UPDATED, 9:06 PM: It took nearly three months — and it happened late on a Friday night — but the Obama administration has responded to the controversy that erupted from an October 16 segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live in which a child giggled during a taped interview that the way to deal with the country’s debt to China was to kill everyone in China. White House reminded everyone that a 6-year-old’s response to the question of how the U.S. should repay its $1.3 trillion debt to China is protected free speech. Here’s the official White House response to the petition; video of the segment is below:
Thank you for your petition. Your petition requested an apology from those involved, and to “cut the show.”
The parties involved have already apologized independently. Jimmy Kimmel has apologized on-air, and issued a written apology. ABC has removed the skit from future broadcasts, taken the clip down from online platforms, and detailed several changes in its programming review process in response to this incident. …
On a broader level, as the President has stated publicly, the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China. The comments you are writing about do not reflect mainstream views of China in the United States.
The Federal government cannot force ABC to remove this show. The First Amendment of the Constitution protects free speech, even if individuals might personally find it offensive or distasteful. It may be upsetting when people say things we might personally disagree with, but the principle of protected free speech is an important part of who we are as a nation.
If you think this issue merits additional scrutiny, you may file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission by visiting FCC.gov/Complaints. The FCC is an independent agency that regulates the airwaves without input or consideration from the White House.
PREVIOUSLY, November 7: The White House will weigh in on one of Jimmy Kimmel Live’s Kids Table segments, after a petition protesting that broadcast logged the required 100,000 signatures within 30 days. The petition was started after the October 16 broadcast of the ABC late night show featured Kimmel asking a group of precocious well-dressed kids about this and that, including how to spell Barack Obama. Kids Table segments routinely feature Kimmel getting unscripted responses from kids to issues of the day. Big question of that day: how to repay the $1.3 trillion the U.S. owes China. “Kill everyone in China,” giggled a little boy named Braxton.
The White House says it will comment on 6-year-old Braxton’s comment and the JKL broadcast in an online post. White House petition rules require a petition to collect 100,000 signatures within 30 days – November 18 in this case, in order to merit response. This petition hit that threshold this morning. The White House raised the number of petition signatures required last January, after a petition calling for the deportation of CNN’s British primetime anchor Piers Morgan, and other petitions, very quickly hit the previous 25,000 signature threshold.
“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 reads. “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 did, in fact, issue an apology, and did promise to cut the Kids Table segment from all future plays of that episode of JKL on all platforms. “We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large…our objective is to entertain,” ABC said in a statement.
And Kimmel went outside his Hollywood studio to personally apologize to protesters, who carried signs featuring Kimmel’s face with an added Hitler-esque mustache, and who numbered about 100 according to press accounts of that encounter.
During the segment on which the White House will be weighing in, another little boy, Braydon, suggested the United States should handle the $1.3 trillion debt by building a huge wall around China “so they can’t come to us.”
“Should this country be forced to pay our own debts?” Kimmel asked the table. “Yes!” the tots responded enthusiastically. Same response when Kimmel asked them, “should we allow the Chinese people to live” – excepting Braxton. “If we don’t allow them to live, then they will try to kill us!” little Eva warned Braxton. “We’re going to all be killed,” weighed in Allie. “Well, this has been an interesting edition of Kids Table – the Lord of the Flies edition,” Kimmel concluded.
Last January, The White House responded to the petition that had been created in December, seeking to have Piers Morgan deported for his views on gun control: “Let’s not let arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First. President Obama believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. However, the Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press — fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy,” the White House said in its repsonse. “Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreements vigorously, but no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment — or any other matter of public concern.”
That petition had been created around the time Morgan called Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt an “incredibly stupid man” on his CNN program.
Here’s Kimmel’s video:
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