Friday 24 November 2017

Kathy Griffin fears career axe after 'severed Trump head' backlash

A tearful Kathy Griffin, left, with her lawyer Lisa Bloom during the news conference (AP)
A tearful Kathy Griffin, left, with her lawyer Lisa Bloom during the news conference (AP)

Under-fire comedian Kathy Griffin has said she is not afraid of Donald Trump and will keep making fun of him - but repeated she was sorry for a video that depicted her holding a likeness of the US president's severed, bloody head.

At a rambling press conference on Friday, Griffin tearfully predicted her career was over and said Mr Trump "broke me".

Since the video was posted on Tuesday, she has lost her job co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve special and had all her upcoming comedy shows cancelled.

Mr Trump, his wife Melania and son Donald Jr, have publicly criticised the video.

Griffin, who said she has been contacted by the Secret Service, said the Trumps were "trying to ruin my life forever".

The Secret Service declined to comment on Friday.

"The president, the first lady and the Secret Service have all made very clear their view on those thoughts," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

Griffin, 56, repeated her claim that the video was a parody, meant as a pointed comeback to Mr Trump's remark last summer that former Fox News Channel personality Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of wherever".

"I'm not laying down for this guy," she said in one defiant moment. "I'm going to keep making jokes about this guy."

Republican Party spokesman Mike Reed called the press conference a "desperate attempt" to change the conversation.

"Kathy Griffin's career was over long before she attempted to make a disgusting joke about decapitating the president," he said.

"What she did was wrong and President Trump and his family have every right to condemn it."

The California politician later sent out a fund-raising email calling Griffin's photo shoot disrespectful and obscene.

Griffin appeared surprised at the number of cameras and reporters in a packed conference room at her lawyer's office in Los Angeles, her hands shaking at one point when she took a sip of water.

She switched between contriteness to combativeness during the press conference, during which she attempted several nervous jokes that drew laughs mostly from her lawyer Lisa Bloom.

Ms Bloom said the comedian had a First Amendment right to make fun of the president.

"Whether or not you get, or like, her artistic expression, in America, Kathy has the right to parody the president," she said.

"She never imagined it would be misinterpreted as a threat of violence against Trump."

Backlash against Griffin has continued to grow and the comedian said five of her performances had been cancelled this week.

Venues in New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and California axed upcoming shows.

The Community Arts Theatre in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, posted on its website that the show had been dropped "due to the recent controversy surrounding Kathy Griffin and the concern for the safety and security of our patrons and staff".

Senator Al Franken also dis-invited Griffin from an event promoting his new book, Giant Of The Senate.

"After hearing from many Minnesotans who were rightfully offended, I've come to the conclusion that it would be best for her not to participate in the event we had previously scheduled," the Minnesota Democrat said - a day after he said she was still welcome.

"I understand why Minnesotans were upset by this, and I take that very seriously."

Mr Franken said what Griffin did "was inappropriate and not something that should be anywhere in our national discourse".

An endorsement deal with US personal care company Squatty Potty also ended.

Though Griffin apologised within hours of the images appearing online, they were met with swift and widespread condemnation.

Mr Trump later tweeted that Griffin "should be ashamed of herself" for posting the images.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie called Griffin "disgusting" and said the photo was "completely outrageous".

Even Anderson Cooper, her CNN co-host for the New Year's Eve show, condemned the images.

Griffin said she had not spoken to Cooper since and appeared visibly upset and struggled to speak when fielding questions about him.

The comic has faced controversies before for her abrasive humour, but none as widespread as the one generated by Tuesday's images.

AP

Press Association

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