Posing with what appears to be the severed, bloody head of the president of the United States was a step too far, Kathy Griffin admitted Tuesday after a controversial photoshoot led to outrage and even calls for her arrest. In an Instagram post, she apologized and said she had asked celebrity photographer Tyler Shields to take down the gory photo, in which she stares coldly at the camera and holds up a prop head that resembles that of President Trump. "I beg for your forgiveness. I went too far," she said, calling the image "too disturbing" and not funny. "I made a mistake and I was wrong," she said. A roundup of coverage:
- CNN says it is rethinking Griffin's role in the network's annual New Year's Eve coverage, the Hill reports. "We found what she did disgusting and offensive," the network said in a statement. "We are pleased to see she has apologized and asked that the photos be taken down."
- Squatty Potty, a bathroom products company that has a pooping unicorn for a mascot, says it has suspended an ad campaign featuring Griffin, the AP reports.
- Before the backlash, Griffin, long an outspoken Trump critic, shared the photo on her own social media accounts with the caption: "There was blood coming out of his eyes, blood coming out of his...wherever," the Hollywood Reporter notes.
- Some critics called for the Secret Service to arrest Griffin for threatening the president, though legal analysts tell USA Today that the photo is protected free speech and not an illegal "threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm" on Trump. "People are allowed to wish the president dead," says Stanford University Law Professor Nathaniel Persily. He says for the photo to be illegal, Griffin would need to have included words urging people to harm the president.
- Griffin is scheduled to appear with Sen. Al Franken at an event in July promoting his new book Giant of the Senate, but he distanced himself from her Tuesday, Politico reports. A spokesman said that while the Democrat respects Griffin's right to free speech, the image "was inappropriate and not the kind of thing that should be part of our national discourse."
- Others criticizing Griffin included Donald Trump Jr., who called the photo "disgusting but not surprising." "This is the left today. They consider this acceptable," he tweeted. Chelsea Clinton called the image "vile and wrong." "It is never funny to joke about killing a president," she tweeted.
- The New York Daily News' editorial board says that while the photo was free speech, it remains "repulsive" and liberals should condemn it. "Imagine if, in 2009, Ann Coulter had been pictured holding up the bloody severed head of Barack Obama," they write. "The howls of outrage would be positively deafening."
- Public anger has largely focused on Griffin, though Shields joked about moving to Tijuana after the photo was taken. "Can you go to jail for making an artistic statement??? Asking for a friend," he tweeted on Friday.
(Click to see the responses from Trump himself
as well as Griffin's New Year's Eve co-host Anderson Cooper