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“Anybody who is calling for the assassination of the president is so far past reason that we’re never going to get to them,” Glenn Beck said on his show. “How are you going to talk to the people who are shouting down and throwing Molotov cocktails? You’re not. You’re never going to talk to them.”
Most radio hosts weighed in on the controversy Friday after playing audio of Depp’s original comments that he made at the Glastonbury Festival in England the night before.
“Can we bring Trump here?” Depp asked a crowd. “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”
The reference, of course, was to actor John Wilkes Booth assassinating President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
“I want to clarify: I’m not an actor. I lie for a living,” Depp continued.
The White House responded Friday with: “President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and it’s sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead. I hope that some of Mr. Depp’s colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would if his comments were directed to a Democrat elected official.”
Depp later issued a statement to People magazine that read: “I apologize for the bad joke I attempted last night in poor taste about President Trump. It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice. I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone.”
The damage was done, though, as his assassination joke was fodder for his conservative detractors all day long, with host after host likening him to Kathy Griffin and her severed-head routine; a Julius Caesar production in which Trump is metaphorically killed; and Madonna musing about “blowing up the White House.”
The real-life attempted assassination of Rep. Steve Scalise and other Republicans on a baseball field was also drawn into the conversation by Rush Limbaugh, though only by citing a segment on Time Warner’s HLN.
“I’m gonna argue that Johnny Depp doesn’t really influence people,” Pete Dominick says in the HLN segment Limbaugh played Friday.
“He may not influence you, but there are people out there like James Hodgkinson, who did open fire at a baseball practice, and Steve Scalise almost died,” Susan Hendricks says to Dominick.
“This is fascinating,” said Limbaugh after playing audio of the exchange. “You can’t escape this. This guy loved Rachel Maddow, he loved Bill Maher, he loved that John Oliver clown on HBO. He loved all these people. Take a look at what he wrote in letters to the editor. I mean, there was nothing original about this guy.”
Limbaugh suggested that Hendricks risked her job by taking a position “at odds” with her colleagues, and he also quoted Hendricks dragging the Walt Disney Co. into the conversation, given that Depp is the star of the conglomerate’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
“Let’s be honest. When Lincoln was assassinated, the assassin was an actor on the stage,” said Limbaugh, citing Hendricks. “Johnny Depp can now reach millions of people at his little music festival there in the U.K. He’s part of the Disney franchise with these pirate movies. So Depp’s words are much more serious than anything, say, John Wilkes Booth could have said back in the day.”
At the same time, on a competing show that is also nationally syndicated, Dennis Prager spoke to liberals in his audience before playing the Depp audio.
“Our contempt for Barack Obama was as deep as your contempt for Donald Trump, but none of us did anything like this, none of us advocated for assassination,” he said.
“The other amazing thing is that nothing will happen to Johnny Depp. People will still go to his movies, including conservatives,” said Prager.
“Deep man,” Prager said sarcastically after rolling the audio. “The belief among many stars of Hollywood that they are significant outside of their profession is a phenomenon. ‘I am famous, therefore I am significant.’ That is Johnny Depp’s motto … what an amazing non sequitur.”
Watch video of Depp’s remarks below.
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