Norm MacDonald set off a firestorm Tuesday with comments he made about the #MeToo movement in an interview given to the Hollywood Reporter.
I’m happy the #MeToo movement has slowed down a little bit. It used to be, “One hundred women can’t be lying.” And then it became, “One woman can’t lie.” And that became, “I believe all women.” And then you’re like, “What?” Like, that Chris Hardwick guy I really thought got the blunt end of the stick there…
The model used to be: admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition and then we give you a second chance. Now it’s admit wrongdoing and you’re finished. And so the only way to survive is to deny, deny, deny. That’s not healthy — that there is no forgiveness. I do think that at some point it will end with a completely innocent person of prominence sticking a gun in his head and ending it. That’s my guess. I know a couple of people this has happened to.
MacDonald has been a long-time friend of both Roseanne and Louis C.K., he says after Roseanne’s career blew up he put her in touch with C.K. in hopes he could offer her some guidance going through the implosion of her career. Here’s where I think he got himself in trouble in the original interview: ”
I got Louis to call her, even though Roseanne was very hard on Louis before that. But she was just so broken and just crying constantly. There are very few people that have gone through what they have, losing everything in a day. Of course, people will go, “What about the victims?” But you know what? The victims didn’t have to go through that.
By the afternoon, MacDonald issued an apology on Twitter:
Roseanne and Louis have both been very good friends of mine for many years. They both made terrible mistakes and I would never defend their actions. If my words sounded like I was minimizing the pain that their victims feel to this day, I am deeply sorry.
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) September 11, 2018
But just as MacDonald had suggested in the interview, an apology is no longer enough. MacDonald was set to tape the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but shortly before the show went on, Fallon asked him not to appear because members of the Tonight Show staff were in tears. MacDonald himself relayed the behind-the-scenes story this morning on Howard Stern.
“Jimmy comes to me … and he was like, ‘How should we play this?’ I said, ‘I think we should say it at the end because if you say it at the beginning, you can’t come back from that,'” Macdonald told Stern. “And he said, ‘What am I supposed to ask?’ And I said, “Jimmy, I don’t exactly know.’ So he leaves. Then someone suggested I start the show with an apology, and I go, ‘It’s not my show.’ And Jimmy came back in and said ‘Can I talk to you, buddy?’ He was very broken up about it. And he said ‘I don’t know what to do. And I said, ‘Should I not do the show?’ And he said. ‘I don’t know. It’s just that I have so much pressure from so many people.’ He goes, ‘People are crying.’ And I say, ‘People are crying?!’ And he said, ‘Yeah. Senior producers are crying.’ And I said ‘Good lord! Bring them in and let me talk to them. I don’t want to make people cry.’ So Jimmy said, ‘Come back whenever you want, but I think it will hurt the show tonight. And I said, ‘Jimmy, I don’t want to hurt your show. That is the last thing I want to do.'”
KTLA’s Sam Rubin points out in the clip below that this should have been a perfect set up for a real conversation about something that matters. Fallon could have just asked MacDonald what he meant about #MeToo victims and Norm could have issued his apology on air or maybe said something else. But it would have been more interesting than the usual Tonight Show celebrity blather. Instead, they just shut down his appearance, partly because staffers were in tears but I suspect also partly because they anticipated a blowback for promoting Norm MacDonald the same day his comments appeared.
I’ve written dozens of stories about #MeToo and it’s a real issue that deserves attention and discussion. We shouldn’t have guys like Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey taking advantage of others sexually because they are too important to be held accountable. But we also can’t turn colleges into imitation courts where the accused isn’t given an opportunity to defend himself or even know the accusation against him. In short, there has to be a balance here. I think maybe that’s what MacDonald was trying to say in the first place, but that’s just my guess.
Looking back over a crazy 24 hours, MacDonald said he’s tired of every conversation becoming political,”I don’t like talking about politics, I find it boring. Everywhere I go, every conversation comes back to Trump and these issues and I’m like, ‘God damn, I just want to talk about how I have to wait three years to see Game of Thrones.'”