Kathy Griffin Charges Back into Controversy with 'Air-Filled Syringe' for Trump Joke

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday May 28, 2020

Kathy Griffin has charged back into controversy with a wisecrack about a "Syringe with nothing but air inside it" — seemingly, her prescription for the current president.

UK newspaper The Independent reported that the one-liner, which Griffin posted on Twitter, was the comedian's response to Trump addressing reporters at a White House press event, saying, "I don't use insulin. Should I be?" Trump's comment was made with reference to an announcement that insulin prices for senior citizens will be reduced.

Trump himself has created controversy recently by musing aloud about whether injections of cleaning products might be useful in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Those comments did not seem to be made in jest, but when they triggered responses from the makers of cleaning products seeking to inform the public that such products are not safe for use in the human body, the White House claimed that Trump's comments were "ironic."

Supporters of the president discerned neither humor nor irony in Griffith's tweet, however. Deadline reports that some users responded with tweets of their own to the effect that Griffin's jab was "a direct threat to the President of the United States."

Both Trump and Griffin have a history of making comments that some have construed as advocating violence. On the campaign trail in August, 2016, then-candidate Trump seemingly suggested that "Second Amendment people" could protect their gun rights from the prospect of a Hillary Clinton-appointed Supreme Court justice.

One common interpretation of that comment was that Trump was advocating for Clinton's assassination.

Twitter users seemed to take Griffin's jibe seriously, going as far as to tag the Secret Service in their tweets claiming that Griffin had issued a "direct threat" against the president.

The latest flap pales in comparison to Griffin's posing for a 2017 photo that depicted the comedian holding a severed head made to resemble that of the president. Variety notes that Griffin has incorporated that story into her material, saying that she withstood investigations from governmental agencies and was placed on a no-fly terror list because of that image.

Griffin apologized for that photo, but this time around no such apology seemed forthcoming. Media sources quoted Griffin's response to Twitter backlash, Griffin pushed back against the disapproval she faced on Twitter after her wisecrack. Then, referencing Trump's reaction to news that the social media platform will begin labeling Trump's tweets with fact check alerts, Griffin posted the comment, "I feel pretty goddamn superior now knowing that I know a hell of a lot more about the first amendment than this mushroom."

The Associated Press took note of how:

Until now, the president has simply blown past Twitter's half-hearted attempts to enforce rules intended to promote civility and "healthy" conversation on its most prominent user. Trump frequently amplifies misinformation, spreads abuse and uses his pulpit to personally attack private citizens and public figures alike — all forbidden under Twitter's official rules.

Among the falsehoods Trump has curculated on social media are baseless accusations that former Republican congressman Joe Scarbrough, a critic of the president, murdered an aide. The woman in question, Lori Klausutis, reportedly died following a heart arrhythmia that caused her to pass out. When she fell, she hit her head on a desk and sustained a fatal injury.

Trump's claims that Scarborough murdered Kalusutis, is in keeping with other bizarre and untrue claims he has made in attacks on political enemies and critics. But her widowered husband, Timothy Kalusutis, complained about the president's claims being shared on Twitter and asked that the social media platform take those tweets down.

Trump, declared Kalusutis, "has taken something that does not belong him — the memory of my dead wife and perverted it for perceived political gain."

So far, Twitter had not complied with Kalusutis' request to delete those tweets.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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