The White House Friday night defended as free speech the “kill everyone in China” segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live, reports Deadline.
105,000 people signed a petition to the White House demanding an apology and that the show be cut.
In the round table discussion with children on the US debt to China, a six-year-old boy suggested that the US respond by “killing everyone in China.” Kimmel did not stop or correct the child, and instead repeated the comment later in the segment.
In its response, the White House said both ABC and Jimmy Kimmel have already apologized and agreed to edit the segment out of future airings of the show. It went on to say:
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.
The response was not surprising. That it was released on Friday night is a common political strategy used by politicians to bury a story at a time when few people are likely to be paying attention.
The outrage over Jimmy Kimmel resulted in more than two dozen protests being held across the country and in ABC promising to review its editorial policy to make sure such incidents don’t happen again.
The Organization of Chinese Americans and other groups, however, have not been satisfied with ABC’s response and have pushed for a more sincere apology and further action on the part of the network.