Bloody Head Update: The Kathy Griffin Press Conference


I just watched the Kathy Griffin press conference. The justification for the mdia event that Griffin is “fighting back” against “bullying” from President Trump and his family over her bloody head bit.

Ethics Observations:

1. Presidents shouldn’t “punch down” against civilians, even celebrities, even ridiculous celebrities like Griffin. It is  indeed a form of bullying. I have written about this before. It is an abuse of power and position no matter what the provocation. The public would have been more sympathetic to him and his family if he had just kept quiet. He can’t help himself, and he will not learn.

2. Anyone who doesn’t think Griffin was counting on, praying for, a twitter war to break out between her and POTUS over her visual attack on him (and the office, and the country) by holding up an effigy of his severed head really is too innocent and naiive to talk about this issue. Thus her protests—tearful protests!—over her stunt backfiring have to be seen for the sham that they are. She didn’t just ask for this, she was counting on it. What she didn’t foresee was having no defenders except Jim Carey and a few others.

Did you have any doubt that the photo would prompt a tweet from Trump? Did anyone?

3. Griffin could have prevented what she is whining about by the simple, ethical and obvious act of apologizing to the First Family. She still hasn’t done it. For all the “of course it was terrible and I made a horrible mistake,” Griffin refuses to be contrite, remorseful and genuinely sorry to the primary parties she offended. Indeed, at the press conference she continued to insult the President.

Her stance is an odd one: she is simultaneously arguing the Joke Excuse and the Jester’s Privilege as the bloody head applies to the President and his family, but apologizing to everyone else. You have to pick one, Kathy.

4. For some reason Griffin started blathering about the First Amendment. Nobody is talking about punishing her for the content of her hilarious joke beheading. Sure, she’s being investigated, but that’s routine when you evoke an assassination. This, and her tears at the end (Griffin is an actress; I don’t believe them for a second), strongly suggests that she is bidding for victim status and sympathy. “He broke me!’ she says. She broke herself, to the extent she is broken at all, which I doubt. She will have a burgeoning career at anti-Trump events, rallies and fund-raisers for the next 4-8 years. Maybe she and Rosie O’Donnell will do a concert tour.

5. We also heard about mean tweets, social media attacks and death threats. I am sure Griffin is getting some, just like Michael Richards got death threats after he stated screaming racial epithets at some black audience members for no apparent reason.That was also permitted by the First Amendment, but Richards was smart enough not to use that defense. Death threats are always wrong; the President isn’t responsible for them; he lays himself open to being called responsible by punching down; she was going to get death threats whether he tweeted or not; Griffin is using the threats to try to shift blame to Trump. I think that about covers the death threats.

Conclusion: The press conference was a promotional stunt, designed to make Griffin look sympathetic and minimize the harm to her career. I would call it dishonest, but this was so transparent that it can’t qualify as a genuine effort to deceive. It’s show biz, after all. Donald Trump should understand that better than anybody.


20 thoughts on “Bloody Head Update: The Kathy Griffin Press Conference

  1. She is an asshole. Even the most liberal of “comics” are staying away from her on this. What she did was not funny, and was not intended to be funny. It was just her moronic part in the “Resist” movement, and if she can’t get a job other than on “The View” and Resist-rallies, so be it.

    Free speech is free speech, with several notable examples. But if you rely on free speech to reveal yourself as a idiot, knee-jerk, unfunny, hateful person, than you just have to take the fall-out: your viewers have free speech as well. Why is it free speech for her to display a severed head of POTUS and somehow unfair for people to criticize her for it? Can’t have it both ways. (Clearly, she learned a lesson from Hillary’s performance the other day: blame everyone else for the outcome of your ‘minor’ mistakes…)

    And the crocodile tears were the icing on the cake of a thoroughly sickening performance. And Jack, you’re right: no apology to the man she attacked so viciously, presumably for the sake of ‘humor?” Isn’t that where one starts, if indeed one is sorry for what one did?

  2. Punching down only works to create backlash if you have the media on your side. Obama had that. As a teacher I’ve seen this scenario over and over in microcosm. It is never anything but a hurt fest. Somehow by behaving badly the original ass becomes a hero to their peer group. What a nation of little 3rd grade mean girls we’ve become.
    I’ll bet anything Kathy was victim or bully of this identical scenario when she was a child. Trump probably as well. How I wish there were an adult in the White House. Bush’s “Miss me yet?” meme keeps on being relevant.

  3. I think this editorial (yes, from a conservative paper) sums it up pretty well:

    It didn’t take long for so-called comedian Kathy Griffin to realize that, even with all of the anti-Trump sentiment swirling around our country, no one found her photoshoot stunt very funny. In collaboration with professional troll Tyler Shields, Griffin took pictures of herself holding up the severed “head” of President Trump, with dark blood running down the mask’s face. The photos, unmistakable in their similarity to the shocking Islamic State videos, were published by TMZ on Tuesday and were immediately the subject of intense backlash.

    Before Griffin found her way clear to apologize, she tweeted: “I caption this ‘there was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his…wherever’ Also @tylershields great photog/film maker.”

    A few minutes later, she wrote, “OBVIOUSLY I do not condone ANY violence by my fans or others to anyone, ever! I’m merely mocking the Mocker in Chief.”

    Er, “mocking” usually involves humor of some kind. The caption she tweeted bears some vague resemblance to humor with its reference to the whole Megyn Kelly thing from last year, but the photographs themselves are not funny in any possible sense of the word. You can despise Donald Trump from the very depths of your soul and still see that this is unacceptably vile. Think what you will of him, it’s not amusing in the least to “joke” about killing the president of the United States – or anyone else, really.

    Late in the night – no doubt after liberals like Chelsea Clinton and Griffin’s pal Anderson Cooper publicly registered their disgust over the photos, the star (?) finally realized that there was no one beyond her and Shields who found the pictures appropriate.

    “I am sorry,” she said. “I went too far. I was wrong.”

    The president himself weighed in on Griffin’s “art” with a tweet late Tuesday. “Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself,” he wrote. “My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”

    So, it’s been pointed out a thousand times, but can you just imagine what the backlash would be if she had done this with an Obama mask? She would be shunned from mainstream society. There wouldn’t be a TV channel in the WORLD that would have her on, even to apologize. You think she’ll suffer any such consequences for this stunt? We get a half-hearted “we’ll re-evaluate her role in our New Years’ Eve special” statement from CNN, but we’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that she’ll be standing right beside Cooper when the ball drops. Because who really cares, right? It’s just Trump, a dirty Republican, right? Barely even qualifies as a human being.

    As foul as these photos are, we should probably be grateful every time one of these liberal psychos forgets to wear their mask of civility in public, because it lets your average, sit-the-fence Independent and your average “I guess I’m a Democrat” voter know what the left is really all about.

    • Actually, blood coming out of his wherever is a little clever and makes some sense in context. Just 20 months late for that joke. But, it is KG, so better late than never, I guess.

  4. I think the press conference was a disaster, from the inconsistent positions you note to the fact that only her attorney laughed at her attempted jokes. You’ve got to either double down or offer a sincere apology. If he’s a bully, and free speech, and blah, blah, blah, than stick by it. Why apologize? Or, to quote a Few Good Men, if you ordered Santiago never to be touched, and your orders are always followed, why was he going to be transferred off the base?

    I don’t know, Jack, about her future as an anti-Trump icon. Clearly, she has thought about this and doesn’t see this as likely – hence the need for the press conference (or the press conference should have been “screw all of you!” and she would have shown up with Melania’s head). On the other hand, there is nothing that liberals like more than being in their own echo chamber (how easy must it be to a liberal comic: “Trump sucks”” “Russia” “Cockholster!”)

    • I must say, if she had said “screw all of you!” and shown up with Melania’s head, she would have won some measure of respect for integrity. I will be laughing about that thought all night.

  5. I must have blacked out or something—I missed Griffin saying, “Cut the crap, this wouldn’t be happening to a guy,” Is there anyone who believes this. except maybe Hillary? I did hear her say that “old white guys” were doing this to her. True, I haven’t heard John Lewis or any of the old black guys in the CBC raise any objections: do you think they might have said something if she had held up Barack’s head? But Griffin, who is supposedly a fearless comic, would have never, never, never dared to try that. So why didn’t the ethics alarms go off?

    They didn’t go off because of the phenomenon I have pointed out since the John Oliver post last year. Oliver, Maher, Colbert, Noah, Bee, and others were spewing vicious—but FUNNY!!!!—hateful rhetoric at the President of the United States while their audiences—gee, what can I call them without being like Joe McCarthy, Pete, Lisa? Not liberals! Not progressives! Not “the resistance”! Not democrats! Not “the left”! After all, so many members of these groups have prominently said that the President of the United States deserves some base level of decency and institutional respect—wait…who?—arfed and clapped like seals. Why would Griffin think they wouldn’t react likewise to her holding Trump’s head like he was MacBeth and she was MacDuff?

    And again, despite the howls here for the insight, I restate that the “resistance” reacted as she expected—but had the sense to realize that it would have been a huge and fatal mistake to do it publically, because the ugliness of the campaign to destroy Trump is reaching the tipping point, and the—whatever they are, Lisa, Pete—can sense it. It isn’t the Right or the Trumps that are punishing Griffin—how could they? She had already made her contempt for them manifest—did you like how Griffin argued that making fun of Bill Clinton’s Monica follies proved she was non-political? YOU DIDN’T HOLD UP HIS SEVERED HEAD, DID YOU? After all that would have made your friends angry—so Republicans attacking her didn’t matter. No, it is the re—well, whatever that undescribable group can be called without being so unfair—that are dumping Griffin, because, as I said, she revealed the essence of what the barage of hate against the President. is really about.

    Yeah, I hate being attacked for being right, calling what’s going on what’s going on, and spotting the rotten ethics seeding it. In 1995, suffering from a similar but far less toxic trauma when Bill Clinton became President after 12 years of Reagan-Bush, conservatives, Republicans, talk radio and the militia—remember?—were spouting violent rhetoric about the threat posed by Big Government and the new young Democratic huns. That was hysterical too—-Bill Clinton was a centrist—but the pitch was getting out of hand. And then an anti-government terrorist blew up a building in Oklahoma City, and suddenly the ugly anti-government rhetoric was seen to be as unhealthy as it was.

    I think Griffin’s fake violence may have done the same thing to the re–well, you know, those unidentifiable Trump-haters of no special ideological orientation. If so, we were lucky, and dodged a bullet—literally.

  6. She revealed the … her crowd… to be deeply hateful people. That’s probably the only thing they really object to. They need her to be redeemed, but I’ll be a little surprised if her downward career tragectory is reversed. She’s not a power player, just a formerly useful idiot. This is also based on observing 3rd grade girls.

    • Personally, I don’t give a damn if her career ends up in shit hole dive comedy clubs and she has to get a second job cleaning restrooms; her choices, her consequences. I think she’s a real piece of shit.

      • Anyone who degrades the culture like this should not expect to be treated any other way. There are ugly consequences to being ugly. Usually they aren’t this instant, but instant karma is undeniably satisfying. The worst thing that could happen to her (from her point of view) is that she is completely ignored and allowed to live anonymously and fairly with her life choices just like the rest of us. If the rest of us shit in our nest we have to clean it up ourselves and she should have the same privilege.

  7. At least Michael Richards had the excuse the black guy was heckling him in the club where he was performing. He also apologized for his awful remarks. Griffith with her bullied victim stance over her excretibly bad taste seems to have learned nothing from this incident. Hopefully her career will sink like a rock.

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