CNN drops ties with Kathy Griffin after tasteless decapitated Trump photo/video

This was posted Wednesday, May 31, 2017 by Rodney Ho/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Atlanta-based CNN has cut ties from comedienne Kathy Griffin the day after she posted video and photos of her holding a bloody, beheaded version of President Donald Trump, a move that generated outrage from all sides of the political spectrum.

She has been co-hosting CNN's New Year's Eve program with Anderson Cooper on Times Square in New York City since 2007.

"CNN has terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year's Eve program," the network said in a statement.

Even Cooper, a long-time friend of Griffin, couldn't defend her, describing the photo on Twitter as "clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate."

Griffin, once she gauged the negative response Tuesday, apologized. "I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far," a makeup-less Griffin said on Instagram. "I made a mistake and I was wrong." She even asked the celebrity photographer Tyler Shields who took the photos to remove them from the Web although that in and of itself is impossible.

Trump himself expressed displeasure with the implication that he should be dead, saying on Twitter Wednesday that she "should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!"

Griffin, a veteran 56-year-old stand-up comic known for dishy tales about her interactions with celebrities, has always liked to push the edges of propriety in her comedy but even she admitted after the fact that she went over the line this time.

When she first posted it, she said the bloody photo was a statement referencing Trump talking about former Fox News host Megyn Kelly in 2015 seeming angry asking him questions during a debate: "You know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base."

"I'm merely mocking the Mocker in Chief," Griffin said in a Tweet.

Griffin also lost an endorsement deal with Squatty Potty, a toilet footstool designed to allow for better bowel movements. She had just signed the deal three weeks earlier.

Marshall Chiles, owner of the Midtown comedy club Laughing Skull Lounge and a stand-up comic, said she would have been better to just double down and not apologize. At the same time, "I think anyone who is going to make such a divisive statement deserves any divisiveness that happens to them."

But Chiles thinks, given her existing liberal supporters, her career won't go down in flames over this: "Her fans will forgive her. The fact she owned up to it and will make jokes about it, she will be okay."

Shannon Burke, a late morning talk show host on NewsRadio 106.7, was thoroughly disgusted and noted that other liberal celebrities have voiced harm against Trump, including Snoop Dogg shooting Trump in a music video and Madonna at a women's march wishing she could blow up the White House.

"This seems to be the new normal," he said in a text. "And they think President Trump has mental issues? The First Amendment is wonderful! Kathy won't go to jail for what she did but I hear she's looking for another New Year's gig. I can't recall a single example of such seething, tasteless disrespect of a President by mainstream media or celebrities ever. Classy."

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year before her appearance at Atlanta Symphony Hall, she said opportunities for a comic her age in Hollywood were limited, that she had to hustle on the road.

My 2016 interview with Griffin when she last performed in Atlanta. 

“When you’re a chick over 50, the sexism is pretty hardcore. You have to work harder and jump higher," she said. "I would love to be Kevin James and David Spade juggling film and TV offers. I would have another TV show, or three. I would love to have a breakout film role. I talked to Lee Daniels. Where’s my 'Precious'? David Russell: where’s my ‘American Hustle’? In the meantime, I can’t stop adding concert dates. I feel like one of the political candidates. I’m going to real America.”

In the near term, even that side of her business is threatened. AP reported that a New Mexico casino has canceled a performance by Griffin, who was scheduled to perform at Route 66 Casino, operated by Laguna Pueblo, on July 22. She is not scheduled for any comedy dates in Atlanta in the near future.

In the 2016 interview, she said she and CNN president Jeff Zucker got along fine.

“He’s sent me flowers,” she said. “I yelled at him once during the New Year’s show to come on the platform and run it like when he was at the ‘Today’ show and getting Katie Couric‘s coffee. Jeff actually showed up. He ran the show for about an hour and a half. I told him to get me coffee. I’m not afraid of network and studio heads. They love me if I get ratings. They hate me personally.”

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.