Joan Rivers made a not-so-funny “joke” on “The Today Show” yesterday about the three Cleveland women who were kidnapped by deranged creep Ariel Castro and held captive in his home for a decade. When describing how cramped her daughter’s guest room in her home is, Rivers joked that “Those women in the basement in Cleveland had more space,” much to the horror and awkward fumbling of her “Today” interviewers.
Word got back to the kidnapping victims Amanda Berry, Gina de Jesus, and Michelle Knight, who were deeply offended. Lawyers for DeJesus and Berry reached out to Rivers in a statement:
Our clients have become aware of Joan Rivers’ unfortunate comparison of living in her daughter’s guest room to their captivity. We understand that Ms. Rivers is a comedienne; however, the idea that a celebrity would say something this hurtful, on national television, no less, is beyond shocking and disappointing. Our clients are strong, private women who have endured unwanted and often painful media attention for quite some time. They now have to endure this, which is a new low, and we believe a sincere apology is warranted.
Rivers, however, feels she has nothing to apologize for. “They got to live rent free for more than a decade. One of them has a book deal. Neither are in a psych ward. They’re okay. I bet you within three years one of them will be on ‘Dancing With The Stars,’” she told TMZ. Damn, Joan.
Rivers went on to tell Cleveland newspaper The Plain Dealer that “There is nothing to apologize for. I know what those girls went through. It was a little stupid joke.” Rivers also told the paper that she was thrilled about the women’s rescue and that she “hopes they have productive, joyful lives.” She told the Plain Dealer they should “stop writing about my stupidity” and give more focus to topics like government leaders.
Sure, there are more high-pressure issues to focus on than entertainers’ latest drama. But that doesn’t give her an excuse to evade responsibility for what she’d said. It’s one thing if she were to refuse to respond to reporters who sensationalized a remark just to exploit Rivers, but the joke has gone beyond harmless humor and actually hurt its subjects, who’ve already been wounded by so much else in life. The cycle of attacking the character of a public figure for a “controversial” comment and demanding a formal apology is usually fruitless (and often ridiculous) but this is different. Rivers is ignoring the pleas of the victims themselves to directly apologize. There is something really scummy about that.
“They’re free, so let’s move on,” Rivers insisted to the The Plains Dealer. I’m sure the kidnapping victims who have publicly suffered on a massive scale would like nothing more than to do exactly that. So maybe Rivers she help them out with that by not bringing up their plight on national TV anymore. Joan, you’re better than this!