WOODLAND HILLS, CA. — You didn’t have to be two feet away from comedian Kathy Griffin at the press conference podium Friday morning, as I was, to see that this media event only worsened a still-spiraling disaster.
But it sure helped to see close-up the damage from this misguided effort, following the release of a Tyler Shields photograph featuring Griffin holding a fake, severed head of President Donald Trump.
As Griffin entered the too-small conference room with her attorney Lisa Bloom, she appeared startled, inhaling sharply. Every inch of space was occupied with reporters from USA TODAY, NBC, ABC, Extra, TMZ. E! News, Entertainment Tonight. And so on. Cameras were rolling.
But it was apparent from that moment that the star of Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-list was in over her head from the raging waters of this national controversy of her own creation.
It was only Tuesday that Griffin posted the graphic, bloody picture. As even the president’s harshest critics (Chelsea Clinton!) joined Trump himself on Twitter in decrying the sight, a clearly distraught Griffin pulled back. She posted a hastily put-together apology video saying, “I went way too far.” The blight was removed.
In an emotional statement, comedian Kathy Griffin says she thinks President Trump ‘broke her.’
Friday’s press conference only worsened this wound with its scattershot objective.
Was Griffin taking back her apology? She wasn’t. Instead, she and her lawyer vowed that Griffin would continue to speak out against Trump, while propelling the theory that Trump and family were hellbent on destroying Griffin.
Griffin called Trump a “bully,” but his tweet only summed up what most Americans thought of the picture. Griffin’s friend and New Year’s Eve co-host Anderson Cooper was as harsh decrying the photo as “disgusting” on Twitter. Griffin made herself the target of public outcry that led to comedy venues canceling appearances and CNN terminating that New Year’s Eve co-host job seven months early.
Trump and company didn’t need to do anything.
There were moments of true emotion in the room Friday. Griffin, whose hands shook nervously at the podium, teared up when asked about Cooper’s Twitter comments (Et tu, Anderson?). But this press conference wasn’t the place to discuss this. Nor was this the time for Griffin to explain how she threw together the faux Trump head or do more stand-up jokes.
Griffin was simply incapable of turning off the comedian switch and rolled on far too long, stepping into enough hot points to rile most every demographic. Was she funny at times? Yes, for sure. But this was a press conference, not a comedy club routine.
After a bizarre end featuring an outspoken, critical reporter hijacking the press conference, Griffin retired to a back office and canceled a series of interviews with individual reporters. Bloom handled a few of these follow-up interviews before abruptly canceling them as well (including one with USA TODAY) without explanation.
As Twitter exploded, Bloom tersely re-emerged from her office to ask the remaining journalists to leave. Not just the office, but the building.
By the time the whole thing was said and done, the only clear objectives achieved were further proof of Hollywood political disconnect from the rest of the country and renewed vitriol — but it was still directed at Griffin, not Trump.
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