Everyone remembers Kathy Griffin holding up a bloody, severed head intended to look like President Trump back in May. Hours after the stunt went viral, Griffin put out an apology video in which she said, “I went way too far.” But three days later Griffin took a very different approach. She held a press conference with her attorney Lisa Bloom in which she tearfully claimed, “He broke me.” While she didn’t retract her apology, she did make herself out as a victim. In a profile for NY Magazine’s The Cut, Griffin now admits that press conference didn’t help her case:
There’s a chance that Griffin could have recovered from the controversy much sooner, had she not made the fateful decision to hold a press conference with her newly retained attorney Lisa Bloom just three days after the photo was released. Bloom, known as an attorney who specializes in women’s advocacy, is a ubiquitous presence on cable television whose fame has increased as she has been retained by clients who have accused President Trump and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly of sexual assault and harassment, respectively.
Before the press conference, Griffin received text messages and emails from friends, begging her not to go through with it; they felt it would only further inflame the situation. But Griffin felt that she would look erratic if she canceled, and she was also feeling wounded by all the attacks. It was a disaster: Griffin appeared defensive and nervous instead of resolute. She talked as if she had been the victim of an unprovoked attack. “None of the points I wanted to make in that press conference came across because I said I was a victim and acted like a victim. I take responsibility for that,” she says.
In the aftermath, Griffin says she couldn’t even find a reputable crisis-management expert to take her on as a client, and she still hasn’t found a publicist. Entreaties from her team are met with responses like, “We aren’t taking on new clients right now” — Hollywood speak for “we don’t want you.”
As I said at the time, I think Griffin was genuinely freaked out by the reaction to her stunt. She probably assumed the left would give her a pass but in this case they didn’t. CNN fired her. Al Franken canceled and appearance with her. Even her longtime friend Anderson Cooper didn’t speak to her for several days. When he finally did text her, Griffin told him their friendship was over. But Griffin apparently had a flood of behind the scenes support from Hollywood:
Advice and support flooded in from Hollywood friends, actors, and comics. One critically revered comedian, Griffin says, reassured her that her career wasn’t over and that every comic would give their right arm for the act she’d have after the controversy died down. A comedic movie legend said the incident would be a landmark in the way comedy is viewed. Jerry Seinfeld and Jamie Foxx made supportive comments publicly. Amy Schumer sent Griffin a funny video that Griffin played for me but declined to let me describe…
Despite all the private support, no entertainers were willing to speak to me on the record about Griffin. For this story, I reached out to a number of celebrities, especially comics, that Griffin is close friends with. They’ve been calling and texting Griffin in the past few months to check in on her. A few of them even initially told me that they would talk to me for this story, but when I reached out to their publicists to set up phone interviews, I was politely turned away.
Three months after this story exploded, Griffin says she is still too worried about her physical safety to perform in the U.S. but she is taking her show on the road to Europe and Australia. The Laugh Your Head Off tour uses a promotional image of Griffin, dressed in the same blue blouse she wore in the Trump video, only now she is holding up a globe. Here’s one of the promotional clips for the tour.