Overnight Wednesday, Griffin, 57, posted a lengthy Twitter thread titled “Stand Up To Trump,” chronicling the entire saga from start to finish — and repeatedly blasting the president for his “abuse of power.”
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Griffin — who, in the wake of the scandal, was fired from CNN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast, which she had co-hosted with Anderson Cooper for 10 years — began her thread by acknowledging that she’s “in a position of tremendous privilege.”
“I have access to resources that allowed me to deal with this in a way others who aren’t as privileged couldn’t have,” she said. “And that’s exactly why I’m speaking out, I don’t want this to happen to someone who doesn’t have my resources.”
The comedian went on to explain the rationale behind the photo, pointing out that the image was inspired by Trump’s “sexist comments to Don Lemon about Megyn Kelly from the 2015 campaign.”
“The mask photo was meant to be a play on those sexist comments about Megyn… ‘blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.’ FYI, I am no Megyn Kelly fan, she has made horrible racist remarks, but there’s no doubt Trump’s comments about her were sexist,” said Griffin.
While taking headshots for her tour, Griffin said she decided to shoot the mask “at the last minute.”
“My assistant went out and bought a $10 dollar halloween mask and ketchup…that’s it,” she said. “This wasn’t some elaborate setup.”
Griffin said she knew the photo would cause controversy, but assumed it would subside in a day or two.
“My point was to do something provocative in an attempt to keep the spotlight shining on his sexism. In my mind that’s the role that comics are supposed to play,” she said. “Our job is to shine a bright light on issues people are afraid to talk about, speak truth to power, push boundaries, take risks, and by being provocative…force people to pay attention to important issues. And yes…we often do that through humor but provocation is also a tool.”
In hindsight, Griffin said she would done two things differently: One, she would have used a blowup doll instead of a mask, and two, she would have handled the release herself.
“The photographer asked me when he should put it out and I told him to do it when he felt best,” she said. “Not releasing the image with context and the fact that it ended up on TMZ totally allowed for my intended messaging to get lost in the mix.”
Griffin recalled the way in which “s— hit the fan” after TMZ blasted the image. She decided to post an apology video, after which “things started to calm down” — until Trump tweeted about the photo, calling it “sick.”
This “started a process I was completely naive to which I like to call the Trump wood chipper,” said Griffin. “I learned that day the power of the presidency and the power of the Trump machine. Immediately the death threats started pouring in again but more violent and serious than the previous night. The news networks broke into their programming to put his tweet up.”
“The way I like to look at it is Trump is the most powerful news director and campaign director. A tweet from Obama was just a message…a tweet from Trump is an order to his millions of followers and the news media,” she continued. “And that day I was the target of that order.”
“People will say to me ‘Well you started it, he was just responding.’ Ok…I was a comic/citizen responding to the President. I was punching up…he decided to punch down and use his following to go after me,” she went on. “Was that appropriate use of presidential power? I don’t think so.”
Griffin said the death and bomb threats she recieved at the time were “terrifying.”
“I couldn’t get a crisis manager or publicist at the time to take me on (it’s not lost on me that Harvey Weinstein never had a problem getting anyone to work with him),” she said. “Lisa Bloom was willing to help so I gladly accepted her advice and signed the check.”
Griffin went on to reflect on the press conference she held with attorney Bloom, calling it a “total disaster” that “only made things worse.”
She also addressed the investigation the Secret Service opened, writing: “I thought it was going to be a quick call and it would be done. That wasn’t the case, it wasn’t a quick call to smack my hand. They kept the investigation open for two months. Remember in all this I’m no stranger. I’m a famous comic. No rational person can think that I pose a serious threat to the president.”
“I would have understood a call, but keeping an investigation open for two months and hauling me in (which they did) for an interview over a photo of me, 110 pound Kathy Griffin, holding a halloween mask with ketchup is nothing less than an attempt to intimidate,” she said.
“Trump didn’t win in the long run. I won’t let him,” she continued. “I have scraped my way back into touring and I will keep pushing and I won’t give up. But i know I’m in a special position…Trump’s abuse of power keeps getting worse and worse. What’s next?”
“The only way to deal with a presidency that abuses power and is authoritarian in nature is to make sure that we back up those that the administration has tried to knock down,” she concluded. “It’s exhausting but so important if we have any hope of preserving our democracy.”
After being unable to tour in the United States, Griffin went overseas, performing in 23 cities in 15 countries. She recently embarked on her “Laugh Your Head Off World Tour,” which includes gigs in San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Chicago and a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall in New York.
“I’m trying to sort of get people to forgive me and get people to come back to me or give me a chance,” she recently told the AP. “And it’s interesting. It’s really like I’m starting all over again.”