Late-night comic Jimmy Kimmel has apologised for a joke about US First Lady Melania Trump’s accent.
On ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live on April 2, the TV host poked fun at the First Lady’s heavily accented reading of a children’s book at the White House Easter egg hunt.
“Not a chance she did one thing to help set that up,” Kimmel said of the egg hunt.
“The only thing she’s been working on is an escape tunnel.”
He then went on to ridicule her pronunciation of the words “this and that” as “dis and dat”.
Mrs Trump, who was born in Slovenia, speaks Slovenian, French, Italian, German and Serbo-Croatian, in addition to English.
Where does @JimmyKimmel get off making fun of @FLOTUS Melania Trump’s accent? Is he going to make fun of someone from Boston? TX? Or is it just the accents of immigrants he mocks? The woman speaks 5 languages for Pete’s sake! He’s out of line. https://t.co/9hUKWq9BzS
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) April 8, 2018
Fox News host Sean Hannity was one of the many conservatives who took exception to the joke.
He branded Kimmel a racist, a pervert and “Harvey Weinstein Jr” – in reference to sexism claims made against Kimmel’s former program, The Man Show.
Independent Women’s Voice, a conservative organisation, also accused Kimmel of racism and double standards.
“Melania Trump would be considered a cosmopolitan woman of the world if her political affiliation was different,” the lobby said in a statement.
“This is another example that for women in the Trump White House and Administration, the old rules against sexism –and in this case racism – don’t apply.”
To Hannity’s charge of racism, Kimmel responded: “Another thing we have in common!” before going on to make a gay sexual innuendo in reference to Hannity’s apparent ‘love’ for President Donald Trump.
In Monday’s apology, Kimmel maintained his joke at Mrs Trump’s expense was “harmless”.
“I will take Sean Hannity at his word that he was genuinely offended by what I believed and still believe to be a harmless and silly aside referencing our First Lady’s accent. Mrs Trump almost certainly has enough to worry about without being used as a prop to increase TV ratings,” the TV host said.
“I am hopeful that Sean Hannity will learn from this too and continue his newly-found advocacy for women, immigrants and first ladies and that he will triumph in his heroic battle against sexual harassment and perversion,” Kimmel added.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) April 8, 2018
Kimmel also apologised for the gay reference he made about Mr Trump and Hannity, saying he did not “intend to belittle or upset members of the gay community”.
Hannity said he would address Kimmel’s statement on his Monday show.
Just had this pop up. I am at a tournament with my daughter. I’ll have a full and comprehensive response tomorrow on Hannity. 9 EST FOX. pic.twitter.com/JLdZDa07BI
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 8, 2018
He tweeted he had just received an alert about the Kimmel apology while at “a tournament with my daughter”.
“I’ll have a full and comprehensive response tomorrow on Hannity. 9 EST FOX.”