After briefly defending her actions online, Kathy Griffin took to Instagram on Tuesday, May 30th, to apologize for controversial images she had posted on social media earlier that day, which depicted her holding up a bloody, decapitated fake head meant to resemble President Trump.
“I sincerely apologize,” Griffin, 56, said in the clip. “I am just now seeing the reaction [to] these images. I’m a comic. I cross the line. I move the line, then I cross it. I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny. I get it.” She added that in addition to taking down the post from her own social media channels, she had requested that photographer Tyler Shields do the same.
“I beg for your forgiveness,” she continued. “I went too far. I made a mistake and I was wrong.”
Griffin’s mea culpa came shortly after Shields, 35, released the provocative images online, along with a behind-the-scenes video that showed the making of the project. In the clip, Griffin boldly states, “Tyler and I are not afraid to do images that make noise.” She is also later heard quipping to Shields, “We have to move to Mexico today because we’re going to go to prison – federal prison.… We’re not surviving this, OK?”
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Shields defended the pair’s decision to share the graphic picture because it was made in the name of freedom of expression.
“It’s art,” he told the Daily News. “I cannot stress enough that I respect the presidency of the United States and would never want anyone to be killed. But it’s art. When you make art, you can do anything you want.”
Both President Trump and First Lady Melania responded to Griffin’s photos on Wednesday, with the real estate mogul condemning the comedienne for her “sick” images, and Melania going so far as to question Griffin’s mental health.
“Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself,” Trump tweeted. “My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!” (The president’s comment came amid a flurry of tweets about the “witch hunt” over James Comey’s firing, the GOP’s disastrous new health care bill and his reported decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement.)
Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
In a statement, Melania pointed to global disasters and strife to denounce Griffin’s political project. “When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it,” the statement said.
Several of Griffin’s high-profile friends – as well as her business connections – have quickly moved to distance themselves from the celebrity as well. Her CNN New Year’s Eve special co-host Anderson Cooper tweeted, “For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part
in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.”
For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) May 31, 2017
This is vile and wrong. It is never funny to joke about killing a president. https://t.co/zIiuKoMyFw
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) May 30, 2017
Indecent behavior should be condemned — including not just faux presidential beheadings but, say, mocking the disabled or denigrating POWs
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 31, 2017
Bobby Edwards, the CEO of Squatty Potty, a line of footstools for toilets, released a statement Tuesday condemning Griffin’s actions. (The comic was set to star in a new ad campaign for the company.)
“It was deeply inappropriate and runs contrary to the core values our company stands for,” Edwards said in the statement. “We have acted swiftly and decisively to demonstrate our commitment to a culture of decency, civility, and tolerance.”
Then on Wednesday, CNN issued a statement that it has decided to cut ties with Griffin.
“CNN has terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year’s Eve program,” the network said in a statement.”We found what [Griffin] did disgusting and offensive. We are pleased to see she has apologized and asked that the photos be taken down.”
Though the Secret Service did not name Griffin or Shield specifically, a tweet from its Twitter account shortly after the controversy seemed to hint at a possible investigation into the matter: “Threats are against @SecretService protectees receive the highest priority of all of our investigations. #ProtectionNeverRests.”
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) May 30, 2017