White House Addresses Jimmy Kimmel's China Joke
After a petition urging the removal of Kimmel from the airwaves reached more than 105,000 signatures, the White House responded that the First Amendment prevented it from doing so.
The White House is weighing in on a controversial joke about China that aired on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! in October.
A petition on WhiteHouse.gov received 105,000 signatures, with its creator asking the White House to "immediately cut the show" and have it "issue a formal apology."
"The parties involved have already apologized independently. Jimmy Kimmel has apologized on-air and issued a written apology," reads the White House response. "ABC has removed the skit from future broadcasts, taken the clip down from online platforms and detailed several changes in its programming review process in response to this incident."
It goes on to reiterate President Obama's position that "the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China" and adds the First Amendment prevents the government from forcing ABC to remove Kimmel from the airwaves.
Kimmel and ABC apologized multiple times for the Oct. 15 pretaped segment in which Kimmel asked a group of children for ideas for how to deal with the debt the U.S. owes China. "Kill everyone in China," answered one boy. Kimmel responded, "OK, that's an interesting idea."
Read the full White House response below:
Thank you for your petition. Your petition requested an apology from those involved and to "cut the show."
The parties involved have already apologized independently. Jimmy Kimmel has apologized on-air and issued a written apology. ABC has removed the skit from future broadcasts, taken the clip down from online platforms and detailed several changes in its programming review process in response to this incident. You can find more about Jimmy Kimmel's apology here and ABC's apology here.
On a broader level, as the president has stated publicly, the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China. The comments you are writing about do not reflect mainstream views of China in the United States.
The federal government cannot force ABC to remove this show. The First Amendment of the Constitution protects free speech, even if individuals might personally find it offensive or distasteful. It may be upsetting when people say things we might personally disagree with, but the principle of protected free speech is an important part of who we are as a nation.
If you think this issue merits additional scrutiny, you may file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission by visiting FCC.gov/Complaints. The FCC is an independent agency that regulates the airwaves without input or consideration from the White House.
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