Essay, Opinion, Politics

KATHY GRIFFIN’S NOT APOLOGIZING ANYMORE, PRESIDENTIALITY AND HIGHER STANDARDS

Header source: Wikimedia Commons

When Trump’s actions are getting increasingly damaging to vulnerable minorities, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine why we should expect people like Kathy Griffin to keep apologizing.


Kathy Griffin, the comedian who faced massive backlash from a May 30th photo she posted of her holding up a mask of President Donald Trump covered in fake blood, styled to look like his decapitated head, is refusing to apologize anymore.

She was the subject of a recent article from The Cut, months after the fallout that cost her 15 live performances, her gig hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast and an endorsement deal – not to mention the thousands of death threats.

The story, which takes place in late June, opens with a description of Trump’s Twitter rant that day: denouncing Robert Mueller’s investigation, mocking House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and calling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer “Cryin’ Chuck.” The nickname came from Schumer getting emotional when discussing the Trump immigration ban.

“Why are people still expecting me to apologize and grovel to a man that tweets like this?” Griffin “vented” to the piece’s author Bashar Ali. “I’m a comedian; he’s our fucking president.”

I do not agree with Griffin’s decision to stage, and then post, a photo intimating a presidential decapitation. I did not think it was appropriate when people would do things like that to President Obama, and I don’t think it’s appropriate now, or ever. However, When Trump is becoming increasing volatile and his actions are getting increasingly damaging to vulnerable minorities, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine why we should expect people like Kathy Griffin to keep apologizing.

Since Kathy Griffin posted, then took down and went on a brief apology tour, the photo, Donald Trump has gone after his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for not squashing the Russia investigation by Robert Mueller, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, for not being able to pass an Affordable Care Act, and the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, for much of the same. He’s also attacked several other members of his own party, such as Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

He instituted a ban of transgender people in the military, citing their medical costs (less than one percent of the overall military budget) as too expensive. He refused to immediately condemn the white supremacists and Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, and later walked back on that condemnation. He argued for the protection of Confederate statues, despite the Charlottesville violence. He got into a pissing match with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. He refuses to release his tax returns, which would alert to any potential conflicts of interest. His son was found to be meeting with a Russian lawyer claiming to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the campaign. He pardoned Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who was accused of intense racial profiling in his arrests, failure to investigate instances of sex crimes, misuse of funds and abuse of power.

Beyond that, he sows competition, aggression and distrust amongst the employees of his administration. He often employs divisive rhetoric, has a history of condescending to women, and regularly uses minority groups as pawns and sacrificial victims for political gain. We should not have higher standards for a comedian or a television host than we do for the president of our country.

It’s interesting to think about, all those months ago, that in the aftermath of the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape with Billy Bush where Trump made several aggressive and sexually-inappropriate remarks, it was seen as a death knell for his campaign. And to mitigate the damage, NBC fired Billy Bush from Today. He, like Griffin, fell from grace while Trump kept on.

I’m not saying that these things should not have been punished or that Bush’s situation, where he was simply on the tape while Trump said those vulgar things, is in any way similar to Griffin’s deliberately shocking photo. I personally didn’t find it to be comedic. But it is bizarre that we live in a world where the actions of a television host and a comedian are held to higher standards than the president of the United States.

That should not be happening. We have become so desensitized to Trump’s actions and his Twitter rants and his flip-flopping that we don’t recognize how deeply unsettling this is.

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