During a press conference held in Los Angeles Friday morning, a distraught Kathy Griffin and her lawyer Lisa Bloom lived up to their promise to “explain the true motivation” behind a now-infamous image that has led to a crippling of Griffin’s career. Unfortunately, the explanation they gave during the 30-minute press conference (it felt so much longer) was nearly impossible to swallow. Griffin of all people should have known that America would have forgotten all about this if she just stopped talking and waited it out. Instead, she went and made it worse.
After introducing her new client as “one of the funniest humans alive” and “a bold advocate” for women, the LGBTQ community, and veterans, who “has never threatened or committed an act of violence against anyone,” Bloom described the photo (taken by Tyler Shields) as commentary on two of Trump’s most notorious misogynistic comments. The bloody decapitated head of Trump? That was a reference to his 2016 comments about Megyn Kelly in which he referenced “blood coming out of her wherever.” Griffin’s pussy bow blouse? That was about the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which he said he grabbed women “by the pussy” without their consent.
I don’t not buy those explanations, but Bloom, whose recent clients include several women accusing Bill O’Reilly of harassment, lost me here (bold mine):
“The message is clear: criticize the president, lose your job. And that’s what happened to Kathy, and more. As a result of the first family’s bullying of her, and of those she does business with, Kathy has been vilified, she’s been receiving death threats...been fired from multiple jobs, and had multiple events canceled. The secret service has reached out to her...a comedian...she has has to retain a criminal attorney...For the first time in history that we are aware of, the POTUS and his family is personally attempting to ruin a comedian...Whether or not you get or like her artistic expression, Kathy Griffin has the right to publicly ridicule the president.”
Had Griffin not deleted the image, asked Shields to do the same, and uploaded a heartfelt apology for it, I might have been willing to accept this explanation. But her actions following the uproar suggest she clearly knew holding up the bloody, decapitated head of the president was risky. Trump is an easily offended, vindictive asshole who is using this situation as a blatant grab for positive press, but Griffin knew he was those things before this happened, and was being intentionally provocative with the photo. Additionally, she’s now acting surprised that it elicited this reaction. Just as she has the right to publicly ridicule the president, CNN has the right to kick her off their New Year’s Eve show. (As for the whole “criticize the president, lose your job” thing, if that were the case, I suspect a majority of the country would be unemployed.)
Bloom went on to claim that “male artists have created far more disturbing imagery,” and cited works from Marilyn Manson and the group GWAR. “They’re all just considered bad boys,” she said. “Unlike these male artists, Kathy apologized. Unlike these male artists, Kathy has endured the most powerful man in America and his family using their power to target her and her employers after she apologized.” The problem with those comparisons is that Marilyn Manson and GWAR aren’t nearly as relevant or famous as Kathy Griffin. Neither has a recurring gig on CNN. Neither has an endorsement deal with one of the most successful Shark Tank products of all time. The public would not be outraged by either for holding up a fake decapitated head of Donald Trump because, by and large, the public does not care about them.
After Bloom reminded us that her client will never apologize for “speaking out for women, for LGBT rights, for veterans, and for others,” and calling the comedian a “shero” who “challenges us” and “makes us think,” Griffin herself approached the mic. It was then that this mess of a press conference became even more difficult to watch.
“I’m Kathy Griffin, I’m really nervous right now,” she began.
“I’m not afraid of Donald Trump. I am a woman in a very male dominated field. I have learned over the years that sometimes when you do standup...sometimes people want a joke that’s out there and a little crazy. Regarding the image that I participated in, that apology absolutely stands. I feel horrible...The idea that this made people think of this tragedy...is horrible. If I could recreate the whole thing I’d have a blowup doll and no ketchup. What happened to me has never happened to anyone in the history of this great country. [Donald and his family are] trying to ruin my life forever.”
But instead of ending there, Griffin said something that brought me close to shutting the tab and closing my computer. “This is America,” she declared. “And you shouldn’t have to die for it.”
That would be a cringeworthy bit of grandstanding on any day of the week, but it is especially unconscionable five days after a national holiday meant to celebrate people who actually died for America. It’s also where this recap ends, because nothing Griffin said later—not even her tearful delivery of “he broke me”—really hit home.
You can watch the full press conference, which never ever should have happened, below. I don’t recommend it.