A photo of Kathy Griffin posing with a mock severed head of President Donald Trump sparked intense outrage Tuesday, prompting the comedian to issue an apology hours later.
“I am a comic. I crossed the line. I moved the line and then I crossed it,” Griffin said in a video posted on Twitter Tuesday evening. “I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people. It wasn’t funny…I am taking down the image and I am going to ask the photographer to take the image. I made a mistake and I was wrong.”
The photos were leaked to TMZ, which wrote: “Trump’s critics have skewered him for inciting violence with his speech. Did Kathy do the same?”
The photographer behind the controversial picture, Tyler Shields, could not immediately be reached for comment on Griffin’s apology Tuesday night, but earlier in the day, he defended the image in an interview with BuzzFeed News as a valid form of artistic expression.
“Trump is the social media president,” Shields said. “He is the most polarizing president we’ve ever had. With any type of person like that, art is going to be made about them.
“I like to make things and let people make up their own minds about it, but I understand with this that some people will praise it and some people will absolutely hate it.”
Shields, who is known for taking highly sexualized images of celebrities, said he photographed the comedian last week holding the bloodied prop, which he said was custom-made for the shoot.
The pair brainstormed several ideas for their photo shoot, after Griffin, whom he described as a friend, suggested she model for him again, Shields said.
“I said, ‘OK, how crazy do you want to get?'” Shields recalled. “And she was like, ‘I’m ready and willing to push any or all boundaries. I’m down to get political, to get naked, to do whatever.'”
“I could never have done this photo with anyone else,” he said, saying that Griffin was “such a polarizing figure” and was “fearless.”
The comedian had originally defended the photo on Twitter, comparing it to Trump’s apparent comments about Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle.