China Demands ABC Respond to Jimmy Kimmel Skit With 'Sincere Attitude'
Jimmy Kimmel's China problem just won't go away.
After two public apologies from ABC over a satirical skit aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Oct. 16 -- in which a child suggested the U.S. "kill everyone in China" to resolve the national debt – China's Foreign Ministry has demanded further contrition from the broadcaster.
At a press briefing in Beijing on Monday, covered by state broadcaster CCTV, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters, “ABC should face up to its mistake and respond with a sincere attitude to the reasonable demands by Chinese people in America, and prevent a similar incident from occurring again.”
His remarks follow sizable protests around the country and outside ABC headquarters in Burbank over the weekend. According to the Associated Press, more than 1,000 people picketed the ABC building on Saturday, calling for Kimmel to resign or be fired.
The skit and its aftermath have been covered sedulously in Chinese state media, and links to the segment have circulated widely on Sina Weibo, drawing both scorn and amusement. State mouthpiece People's Daily has run stories with headlines such as, "Online Fury Over Child’s Comments," "ABC Confirms Its Apology for Offensive Talk Show Skit," "ABC Apology Fails to Appease Chinese Americans," "American Broadcaster Urged to Acknowledge Misconduct" and "Kimmel Flak Won't Go Away."
ABC first apologized for the skit on Oct. 28, in a letter to pan-Asian-American political organization 80-20, saying the bit was unscripted and that "ABC would never purposefully do anything to upset the Chinese, Asian or other communities."
The network issued a second public apology on Friday, stating, "The simple fact is, the segment should never have been broadcast. Systems we have in place for these types of things did not function properly, and steps have been made to try and prevent this kind of egregious mistake from occurring in the future."
At issue among many of the protestors is the way Kimmel responded to the child actor's statements in the skit.
“Kill everyone in China? OK, that’s an interesting idea,” he said, later asking, “Should we allow the Chinese to live?”
Kimmel himself has also apologized on air and in person at the protests.
"I do want to apologize to all of you if I upset you," he told protestors last month. "We should not have put that on the air."
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV later aired selected footage of Kimmel bantering with Chinese journalists, in which he appeared somewhat less contrite, however.
In one clip, he answered a Chinese journalist's question about his response to Chinese Americans who are raising money to sue him.
“Well, in America we have the freedom of the press," he said. "If they want to waste their money suing me, I’d recommend they don’t do that. But that’s their choice.”
It's not the first time Kimmel has drawn an outsize response from an object of his satire via the use of improprietous kids. In September, his show parodied an earlier Kanye West interview from the U.K. by having a small child play the role of a self-promoting, angst-ridden West. West saw the bit, became incensed and ranted against Kimmel on Twitter. The two later made up in a taped interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which scored the show its best ratings to date.