By DEBRA SAUNDERS
By mid-week last week, comedian Kathy Griffin had apologized for posing for a photo with what looked like the blood-soaked decapitated head of President Donald Trump.
“I went too far,” she said in a contrite follow-up video. “I sincerely apologize.”
But it was too late.
Squatty Potty CEO Bobby Edwards announced that it was suspending an ad campaign featuring Griffin as the Utah-based bathroom-stool company saw the stunt as “deeply inappropriate” and “contrary to the core values our company stands for.”
CNN also announced it was terminating Griffin’s appearance on its New Year’s show, after earlier criticizing the photos as “disgusting and offensive.”
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., still planned to appear with Griffin on a tour to promote his new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate. Franken called the photo shoot “a horrible mistake,” but said “she did the right thing asking for forgiveness.”
The question is: What ever made Griffin and photographer Tyler Shields think that it was acceptable, or even funny, for Griffin to pose as an Islamic State terrorist would, holding what looked to be the hacked-off head of a U.S. president?
It is clear that the photo—posted earlier on TMZ—was not a spontaneous gaffe. Griffin and Shields produced a video about the production in which Griffin joked, “We have to go to Mexico. Because we’re going to prison, federal prison.”
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh likened the video to “the political assassination of Donald Trump.”
Tweeting Wednesday morning, Trump said Griffin “should be ashamed of herself” for the photo. “My children, especially my 11-year-old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!”
And first lady Melania Trump issued a statement in which she said, “As a mother, a wife, and a human being, that photo is very disturbing. When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it.”
Many conservatives believe left-leaning Hollywood has two standards -one for Democrats who always are victims, and another for conservatives who get what’s coming to them.
“Clearly there is a history of the Hollywood left feeling emboldened to make outrageous statements about conservatives,” former GOP strategist Alice Stewart observed.
Stewart said she believes in free speech, but she also believes in consequences. She applauded Griffin for apologizing and “my employer CNN for canceling her contract for New Year’s Eve.”
When British filmmaker Gabriel Range made a movie about the assassination of George W. Bush during a 2007 trip to Chicago, he won an award. Then the fantasy of assassinating a president was art, as Griffin described her photo shoot.
But when Republicans target Democrats in less direct fashion, they can be accused of inciting violence. Griffin herself assailed former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for releasing a map with targeted congressional districts in crosshairs. When a madman shot and critically wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., whose district was in the map, Griffin tweeted, “Happy now Sarah?”
Democratic strategist Maria Cardona saw no need to condemn Griffin. “Frankly I don’t think she matters,” the CNN contributor wrote in an email. “I think Trump made a mistake in responding to her because it elevated her and her disgusting antic to a level she doesn’t deserve. And sure, hypocrisy abounds on both sides. Ted Nugent threatened President Obama’s life and Nugent was invited by Trump to the White House.”
In 2012, Nugent, a gun-rights activist, said Republicans “should ride into that battlefield and chop (Democrats’) heads off in November.”
Comedian Will Durst took time off from working on Durst Case Scenario, his one-man show about Trump, to comment on the Griffin controversy.
“You know Kathy Griffin is tasteless,” said Durst, who nonetheless refused to condemn her. “The guy who she is mocking and scoffing,” he said, has “laid a base of attack and bluster and baseless claims, so it’s a whole different playing field.”
Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton was not as understanding. “I hope we can at least agree that it’s never funny to joke about violence toward anyone, and particularly in this politically charged moment, toward our president,” she told “The View.”