Now the Chinese Foreign Ministry has weighed in on the Jimmy Kimmel Live’s Kids Table controversy, telling ABC it needs to “face its mistakes head on and respond with a sincere attitude to the reasonable demands by Chinese in America and prevent a similar incident from occurring again.” Sacking Jimmy Kimmel is a demand made by some Chinese protesters – about 750 to 1,000 strong, depending on your source – who gathered outside ABC’s Burbank headquarters over the weekend.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the statement today during a daily news briefing when he was asked by state-run CCTV to respond to the controversy, according to news reports. At issue is the October 17 broadcast of Kimmel’s late-night show in which a child suggested the way the U.S. should pay back its debt to China is to “kill everyone in China.” Kimmel snarked that it was the Lord Of The Flies edition of the franchise, in which Kimmel asked a group of precocious well-dressed kids about this and that.
Heading into the weekend, with protests scheduled around the country, ABC had issued another apology, in Chinese and English, calling the segment an “egregious mistake” that “should never have been broadcast,” but slipped through the cracks when “systems we have in place for these types of things did not function properly.” In its latest apology, ABC promised it had beefed up its Standards & Practices and executive safeguards to prevent something similar from happening again — and killed dead the show’s running Kids Table franchise.
Additionally the company noted, it has done “everything in our power to ensure that the segment receives no further exposure,” editing the skit out of any future broadcast of that episode and taking down the clip from all of its online platforms. In the wake of the reaction to the sketch, Kimmel apologized on-air, in writing, and met with protesters. Today Xinhau News Agency reported, simultaneously, in headlines that “American broadcaster urged to acknowledge misconduct,” in the Kimmel affair, and “ABC confirms to Xinhua it apologized for offensive talk show skit.” CCTV has broadcast video of Kimmel being asked when he met with protesters days after the segment was broadcast, how he would respond to a group of Chinese Americans who were raising money to sue him. “Well, in America, we have the freedom of the press. If they want to waste their money suing me—I’d recommend they don’t do that—but that’s their choice,” Kimmel said in CCTV’s broadcast.
Meanwhile, expect it to take a month or two, for the White House to weigh in on the Kids Table segment. The White House is required to issue a statement on the subject after a petition on its web site logged the required 100,000 signatures within 30 days. This particular petition hit that threshold late last week. “The kids might not know anything better. However, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC’s management are adults. They had a choice not to air this racist program, which promotes racial hatred,” the petition read. “The program is totally unacceptable and it must be cut. A sincere apology must be issued. It is extremely distasteful and this is the same rhetoric used in Nazi Germany against Jewish people.”
ABC parent Disney has a theme park in Hong Kong and is building one in Shanghai. It’s also one of the biggest entertainment industry markets in the world.