The 57-year-old comedian opened up about the controversy to BBC World News program HardTalk in an interview airing Wednesday.
“I’m not sorry. I take the apology back 1,000 percent,” Griffin said. “The reason I made the apology is when the image went out, I thought people would just think, ‘That’s Kathy doing another shocking image.’ I’ve done many throughout my entire career, and I’ve done many shocking things. When I won my first Emmy I said, ‘Suck it, Jesus, because this award is my God now!’ And you know, the conservatives took ads out it the papers. That’s what they like to spend their time and money on. So yes, I knew what I was doing.”
Griffin explained that she felt motivated to apologize originally when “good friend” Rosie O’Donnell — whom Griffin called “the preeminent expert of being trolled by this fool, ‘the Accidental President’ ” — likened the photo to Daniel Pearl, the American journalist who was beheaded in Pakistan.
“She said, ‘What if Daniel Pearl’s mother saw this?’ ” Griffin recalled. “When she said that, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I’ve never apologized for a joke. I get it.”
In May, Griffin issued an apology saying, “I’m a comic. I crossed the line, I moved the line and then I crossed the line. I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people, it wasn’t funny.” She followed that apology up with another at a press conference in June.
But neither were enough. Trump and his supporters continued to go after the comedian: She says she received hate mail and death threats and was put under federal investigation for two months (she remains on the no-fly list and has been detained at every airport she’s flown to since, she says). Some of her tour dates of were canceled, and she was fired from her gig co-hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live show (which she had for nearly 10 years). Griffin also lost high-profile friends, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
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In August, Griffin retracted her apology while on the Australian talk show Sunrise, saying, “I am no longer sorry, the whole outrage was B.S., the whole thing got so blown out of proportion. I lost everybody.”
Meanwhile, Tyler Shields, the photographer who took Griffin photos told Architectural Digest in an interview published Friday that he knew the image would be controversial but was still shocked by the level of outrage.
“The day we realized this was going to be really crazy — I don’t remember if it was the day after, or a couple of days later — I called Kathy and I said to her: ‘Listen, this happened to the Dixie Chicks, if you remember with the George W. Bush thing, and people were burning their albums, and driving over their albums or whatever,’” Shields said, referencing the 2003 moment when the Dixie Chicks said they were “ashamed” Bush was from Texas on the eve of the Iraq War.
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“Kathy was in a tough mental place and I said, ‘Kathy, this happened to them and they thought they were over, and they had that song and it wasn’t an apology, and it ended up being their biggest song ever, but it took time,’” Shields continued
Shields said he didn’t think that amount of negativity toward a photo could happen in this day and age. “There was a part of me, when that happened, I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think that could still even happen. I didn’t think you could have something go big like that anymore,’” he said.