Leftist comedian and activist Kathy Griffin addressed the fallout of her 2017 photoshoot in which she held a blood-soaked replica of President Donald Trump’s face, telling the Associated Press in an interview that it left her “unemployable and uninsurable.”
“I kept saying, ‘I think this is an important, historic story,’” Griffin said, explaining her decision to tape her side of the story. “The President and the Department of Justice shouldn’t make you unemployable and uninsurable.”
According to the AP:
The result is a feature film, “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story” that’s part documentary, part comedy special. She financed it herself and carried a poster from interview to interview on a recent press day.
“Look, I made it at Kinkos, OK? I’m still on the D-list,” she quipped, referring to the Bravo reality series that earned her two Emmy Awards.
The documentary portion gets raw, Griffin said. “Like ugly Kathy, no makeup, crying.” But it’s also funny. Griffin taped stand-up that’s edited into the film. (She tried to sell it as a stand-alone comedy special and “nobody would even look at it.”)
Griffin carried a much different tone immediately following the backlash and eventually admitted that she “screwed up.” She wrote on Twitter in May 2017: “I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong.” Her apology was short-lived, though, as she eventually flip-flopped and claimed the image does not bother her.
“You can be as offended by that photo all you want, that doesn’t bother me at all. But I want people to know I didn’t break the law,” she told the AP. “If you take a photo like that, you didn’t break the law. I didn’t violate the First Amendment in any way. If you take a photo like that, you didn’t violate the First Amendment in any way.”
Trump tweeted about the image after it circulated, stating at the time that his youngest son, Barron, was “having a hard time” dealing with the image.
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
Prominent players on both sides of the aisle condemned Griffin’s picture, including Chelsea Clinton and Anderson Cooper. CNN cut ties with the comedian altogether, dropping her from its New Year’s program.
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
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
CNN has terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year's Eve program.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) May 31, 2017
Shortly after the photo circulated, Secret Service opened an investigation.
“The U.S. Secret Service has a critical mission. It is always unfortunate when people make statements that could be perceived as threats,” the statement read. “We don’t have the luxury of knowing a person’s intent. Each alleged or perceived threat has to be investigated thoroughly which taxes Secret Service manpower and resources that could be utilized elsewhere.”
Griffin held a press conference with her attorney, Lisa Bloom, in June 2017 and cried as she accused the Trump family of bullying her. She said Trump was “personally trying to ruin my life forever.”
Kathy Griffin: "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump. He's a bully. I've dealt with older white guys trying to keep me down my whole life." pic.twitter.com/LNCgz4tMmU
— ABC News (@ABC) June 2, 2017
Kathy Griffin gets emotional when talking about photo: "I've had everybody turn on me and I just want to make people laugh…I screwed up." pic.twitter.com/2GKLX2sV36
— ABC News (@ABC) June 2, 2017
In an interview with Seven Network months later, Griffin admitted that she was not actually sorry.
“I am no longer sorry, the whole outrage was B.S., the whole thing got so blown out of proportion and I lost everybody,” Griffin told the network. “Like, I had Chelsea Clinton tweeting against me. I had friends, Debra Messing from ‘Will and Grace,’ tweeting against me.”
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) August 28, 2017
Despite claiming to be a woman “in a position of privilege” who will “be fine,” Griffin has continued to complain about the fallout and effects it has had on her personal life and career. She told ABC’s Start Here podcast last year that Trump was trying to make her life miserable.
You know, he has a vendetta against certain people. Like I said, it’s unprecedented in the history of the United States that a sitting United States president has used the full power of the Oval Office, first family, obviously Fox News and the right-wing media, TMZ, which reported my tour cancellations in real time, which has never happened, and put me under a two month investigation where I possibly could have been charged with conspiracy to assassinate the president of the United States. It’s never happened.
Months after the fallout began, Griffin accused Hollywood of blacklisting and silencing her.
Nevertheless, Griffin hopes her story will serve as an inspiration.
“I just want people to know you don’t have to go down,” she said. “You can take a few punches, but after I kick the bucket, I want somebody to go, ‘You know that crazy red head? They got her but she didn’t go down.’”