Comedian Kathy Griffin claims the infamous bloody shock photograph of herself clutching the fake, decapitated head of President Donald Trump would have blown over within days had Trump himself not responded to the photo on social media.
In an interview with Politico this week, the 57-year-old My Life on the D-List star said she still cannot book stand-up concerts anywhere in the United States, seven months after the photo was first published by TMZ.
“I think it would have been gone in a week without his tweet,” Griffin told Politico. “Trump knows what would be perceived as something hysterical and he loves hysteria. There are millions of people who think I’m a member of ISIS to this day.”
The photograph — taken by photographer Tyler Shields — first hit the Internet on May 30. Griffin issued an apology the same day, saying the image had gone “too far,” but months later apparently retracted her apology, explaining she didn’t believe she had done anything wrong.
Trump responded to the photo in a tweet the following day, explaining that his children, including his young son Barron, were having a “hard time” with the image. One report claimed Barron had seen the photograph on television and had “panicked,” not knowing who Griffin is or whether the photograph was fake.
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
Griffin added that she thinks Trump seized upon the photograph to “distract” from his then-recent firing of FBI director James Comey.
The photograph was met with widespread condemnation as Griffin was almost immediately fired from CNN, where she had hosted the network’s New Year’s Eve coverage for a decade, saw numerous stops on her cross-country tour canceled, and was questioned by the U.S. Secret Service.
In June, Griffin held a press conference with attorney Lisa Bloom in which she also blamed Trump for the reaction to the photograph and said she believed the backlash was sexist.
“It’s a bunch of white guys trying to silence me,” she said. “This wouldn’t be happening to a guy. This is a woman thing.”
Griffin told Politico she can no longer perform in the U.S. as a result of the backlash, but has found keen audiences overseas.
“They were thrilled to have someone come over and make fun of Trump,” she said. “I wish I could tour in the U.S. without getting shot — I know I can’t. I was in the middle of a 50-city tour when the tweet happened. It was canceled in 24 hours.”
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum