ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel offered up a belated apology Tuesday after Fox News revealed the late-night host had repeatedly used the “N-word” while impersonating Snoop Dogg in a song spoof in the 1990s. Kimmel had already come under fire for using blackface in several skits earlier in his career.
“I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us. That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke,” Kimmel told Fox News in a statement on Tuesday.
The “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” namesake had long been under fire for donning blackface when impersonating NBA legend Karl Malone, but other routines have recently come to light, such as imitating rapper Snoop Dogg’s voice for an “N-word”-filled track on a 1996 Christmas album.
In the Christmas track, a singer mentioned a “fat n—- in a sleigh giving sh— away,” referring to Santa Claus. The song also referenced “n—– in the manger,” including associates of King Herod.
“We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head. I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more,” Kimmel said in the statement.
“Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices,” he added.
Kimmel said that he has changed over the years and “anyone who watches” his show can vouch that he’s evolved.
“I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. I love this country too much to allow that,” Kimmel’s statement added. “I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.
“Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry,” he said.
Kimmel abruptly announced last Thursday he’s taking the summer off to spend more time with his family. He has been tapped to host the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards. To conclude the statement, he said that his upcoming vacation was preplanned and he will be back to work in September.
Fox News’ Gregg Re and Melissa Roberto contributed to this report.