An eczema of “Tina Fey Defends Free Speech” headlines broke out on the web this morning when Fey came to the Winter TV Press Tour to talk about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, her new comedy series for Netflix. That’s because TV critics and Reporters Who Cover Television woke up this morning to news of a terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. And so, in one of the most awkward moments of any TV Press Tour — though this one’s still in its first day and looking promising — a reporter asked Fey to comment about the executions at the publication and the “importance of satire,” and to tie it into her work on this show and 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.
Fey, who appeared not to have been prepped for that question, responded hesitantly. “Obviously, that news is terrible and tragic and upsetting,” she said, noting that today’s news and the controversy surrounding the Sony movie The Interview are a reminder of “how important free speech is … and you cannot back down.”
By way of a follow-up, another reporter asked Fey how she had dealt with pressure to not write or say something in her work. She deftly dodged that one, instead speaking more generically about this “social media era, where you can make a joke on American TV and it can go worldwide. But we’re Americans; we have to be able — even if it’s just dumb jokes in The Interview — we have the right to make them.”