Comedian Kathy Griffin complained Sunday that she was featured in a video that shows a fake President Donald Trump massacring members of the news media and his critics.
“No, this video isn’t a joke to his followers,” she tweeted, referring to the president. “And it will not be taken as such.”
The video, an edited scene from the 2014 dark comedy “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” shows Trump’s head superimposed on the body of actor Colin Firth opening fire at a “Church of Fake News.” Some parishioners faces are replaced with logos of various news organizations and the likenesses of Democrats and liberals.
News of the video was first reported by The New York Times after someone at a gathering supporters at his resort Trump National Doral Miami last week leaked a cell-phone video of it to the newspaper.
Griffin was among the non-media organizations whom Trump slaughtered in the video, in her case with an ax to the stomach. Others included President Barack Obama, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and actress Rosie O’Donnell.
On Twitter, Griffin initially expressed skepticism that people would “run to my defense” over the meme.
An hour later, though, she issued a plea not to be “left hanging out to dry” again.
Griffin bitterly recalled the backlash she faced for posing with Trump’s fake severed head in a 2017 photo shoot, which she has said got her fired from her long-running gig co-hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve special. She later apologized for the stunt, though she has continued to attack Trump and his supporters.
Im depicted as being murdered by The President of the United States in this video.The left, right & center left me hanging out to dry regarding the Trump mask photo. Please don’t let it happen again. No, this video isn’t a joke to his followers. And it will not be taken as such. https://t.co/uxikv4fAT0
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) October 14, 2019
The reaction to Kathy Griffin and the Trump video
However, New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow was among a number of prominent liberals who did back Griffin. He said in a tweet Sunday that “Trump world lost it” over Griffin’s photo shoot, and asked: “Will anyone apologize to her?!”
Other journalists and Democratic politicians denounced the video as dangerous. Many blamed Trump for encouraging such propaganda with his frequent criticism of the news media and his political opponents. During his campaign for re-election, Trump has repeatedly called the press “the enemy of the people.”
The White House said Monday that Trump “strongly condemns” the video, but that he hadn’t yet seen it.
In a statement Sunday, the White House Correspondents’ Association pronounced itself “horrified’ by the video and called on Trump and “everybody associated with this conference this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society.”
CNN media analyst Brian Stelter declared: “Trump is responsible for a climate that is so hateful, so hostile toward journalists that it spawns videos like this one.”
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke deemed the video not funny, and warned: “It will get people killed.”
However, some conservatives said Trump was the one facing a double standard. They noted that Griffin was not the only celebrity to fantasize about violence against the president without seeming to suffer serious career consequences.
15 Stars Who Imagined Violence Against Donald Trump, From Kathy Griffin to Pearl Jam https://t.co/6zTHuJCKNr
— Jack M. Posobiec, IWO (@JackPosobiec) October 14, 2019
Others, including right-wing pundit Stephen Miller, noted a major difference between the Trump video and the Griffin photo shoot: There is no evidence Trump was involved in this depiction of violence.
Trump is not the creator of the video. You might as well be saying “If Kathy Griffin holding up Trump’s head is wrong, then so is the ultra violence in Django Unchained.”
This isn’t hard.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 14, 2019
The Daily Caller’s Derek Hunter criticized “the media” for “wetting themselves” over the video, and said of the outraged reaction: “Pathetic.”
Twitter influencer Carpe Donktum joked that members of the press were really upset at having been depicted in church, calling it: “Devastating to their brand.” He shared a series of memes mocking journalists for allegedly advocating censorship by the political left.
Organizers and attendees deny involvement
Meanwhile, Reuters was unable to contact organizers of the event at Trump’s Miami resort. But the political action group hosting the event, American Priority, said in a statement on Twitter that it had not been aware of the video and did not approve it.
“It has come to our attention that an unauthorized video was shown,” the group said, adding that the video had been shown in a “side room.”
“This video was not approved, seen or sanctioned by the … organizers.”
American Priority states on its website it supports free speech as protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
A spokesman for Trump’s campaign said he knew nothing about the video, the Times reported.
“That video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence,” said spokesman Tim Murtaugh.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and a former spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference in Miami but the Times reported that neither had seen the video.
“I wasn’t aware of any video, nor do I support violence of any kind against anyone,” Sanders told the Times.
Event organizers, speaking to the Times, denounced the violence in the video and are investigating as to how it was shown.
“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review,” organizer Alex Phillips told the Times.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)