Kathy Griffin Reflects on Her Trump Photo Controversy
It’s been almost three months since Kathy Griffin tweeted a photo of herself holding a bloody mask made to look like a beheaded Donald Trump — which resulted in a huge online backlash pushed in part by the POTUS himself on Twitter – and in a new interview with The Cut, Griffin gets candid about what she learned from the entire experience, which included a federal investigation, a public apology and press conference, and plenty of lost jobs, lost friends, and even death threats. It’s a fascinating read – even more fascinating considering how many friends and fellow comedians have reportedly been supportive of Griffin privately but refused to comment publicly for The Cut’s piece. One thing Griffin has taken away from the whole ordeal: She’s not going to apologize for any Trump material going forward: “President Trump just pardoned Joe Arpaio, who was essentially running a concentration camp in the Arizona desert. He said there are some good Nazis, and he’s kicking out young adults who were brought here as kids by their parents, and I’m the one who has to continue to apologize?” Here’s another excerpt:
Griffin fears the impact of what happened to her will resonate further. “When the president tweeted about me the morning after I released the image, it served as an executive order of sorts to his family and supporters to go after me,” she says. “You may say I deserved it, but just think about it … the president of the United States and his family are going after a stand-up comic who had a show on the Bravo network called My Life on the D-List. If that isn’t punching down, I don’t know what is.”
Griffin says she isn’t a victim: “I am in a position of privilege, I will be fine,” she says. “But what about any American citizen, whether they’re artists or not, who innocently post a shocking photo on social media — will they face a federal investigation?” Griffin also worries about the “chilling effect” created by the retribution wielded by a vengeful president and his army of supporters. She thinks that just as she’s taken responsibility for her provocative image, Trump “has to take responsibility for the power he holds with his Twitter account.”
One of the most unusual parts of the interview is when Griffin reveals that Arnold Kopelson, a member of CBS’s board of directors, advised her to send Trump and Fox News a letter essentially begging Trump for forgiveness and blaming her choice to post the photo on “the lies from the Left”:
The letter includes phrases like, “Now with my world crumbling around me, I am listening for the first time about the great things you have done and are doing. How stupid I was to follow the lies from the ‘Left.’ It took my terrible mistake to finally see the false news,” and “I do not deserve what I am asking of you. I am begging you to open your heart and forgive me.” Kopelson said that Griffin should “exclusively release the letter to Fox Broadcasting,” adding, “Do not send to the other networks.” “If you don’t do exactly what I’ve written, your career is over,” Kopelson wrote. A spokesman for CBS Corporation declined to comment. When I called Kopelson for comment, he said, “I’m tied up” as soon as I explained the reason for the call, and hung up the phone. Kopelson did not respond to a request for comment via email.
Here’s a screenshot of the letter:
This disturbing email that @kathygriffin received, it's from CBS Corporation board member Arnie Kopelson
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 28, 2017
Read the full interview over at The Cut.