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CNN Drops Kathy Griffin For 'Disturbing' Depiction Of Trump's Head

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

CNN is cutting ties with comedian Kathy Griffin after she was photographed posing with a model of President Trump's head covered in blood.

The photo and video were first posted Tuesday morning by TMZ; Griffin apologized Tuesday evening but by then the image had already been widely shared and condemned.

For the past decade, Griffin has been a staple on CNN's annual New Year's Eve coverage alongside Anderson Cooper. The cable network first said it was evaluating her role, but announced Wednesday afternoon it was terminating her contract.

Cooper said Tuesday he was "appalled" by the "clearly disgusting" photo.

Much of the first family also weighed in on the image. First, the president's son:

Then President Trump himself:

And Wednesday morning, first lady Melania Trump called the image "simply wrong":

"As a mother, a wife, and a human being, that photo is very disturbing. When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it."

Chelsea Clinton called the photo "vile and wrong," adding, "It is never funny to joke about killing a president."

In her video apology, Griffin said she was sorry.

"I sincerely apologize ... I'm a comic, I cross the line. I move the line, then I cross it. I went way too far. The image is too disturbing; I understand how it offends people. It wasn't funny. I get it. ... I beg for your forgiveness."

She said she was asking the photographer, Tyler Shields, to take down the photo, and it was no longer on his website Wednesday morning.

Still, the picture is affecting the comic's public image.

Bathroom product company Squatty Potty had recently enlisted Griffin for an ad campaign, but released a statement saying it had been suspended:

"We were shocked and disappointed to learn about the image Ms. Griffin shared today, it was deeply inappropriate and runs contrary to the core values our company stands for. In response, Squatty Potty has suspended its ad campaign featuring Ms. Griffin. We have acted swiftly and decisively to demonstrate our commitment to a culture of decency, civility, and tolerance."

Shields, who took the photo, is known for his edgy and controversial celebrity photography. By Wednesday morning he had taken down the images.

He and Griffin had joked earlier in the week about the impending reaction to their photo shoot.

The two had about 10 different ideas and props for the shoot, he said in an interview Tuesday, and then settled on the gory image.

"It's not even about [Trump]," Shields told Entertainment Weekly before he pulled the content. "It's just about the whole thing of where we're at right now as a society and he just happens to be the one speaking at that."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.
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