Pete Davidson of ‚ÄúSaturday Night Live‚ÄĚ is facing mounting pressure to apologize for a widely condemned bit in which he mocked a wounded veteran and GOP congressional candidate for wearing an eye patch.
Following Davidson‚Äôs remarks about Dan Crenshaw, who is running for a seat representing Texas‚Äôs 2nd Congressional District, the comedian, his show and SNL‚Äôs executive producer were hammered by politicians, talk-show hosts, veterans and others.
‚ÄúThis is absolutely appalling,‚ÄĚ tweeted Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost her legs in Iraq. ‚ÄúNo one should ever mock a Veteran for the wounds they received while defending our great nation, regardless of political party or what you think of their politics. Pete Davidson owes Dan Crenshaw an apology.‚ÄĚ
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that SNL‚Äôs executive producer Lorne Michaels should be fired.
But Crenshaw ‚ÄĒ who lost his right eye in 2012 after a bomb exploded during a mission in Afghanistan, his third military deployment ‚ÄĒ said he won‚Äôt ask for an apology from Davidson or SNL.
‚ÄúThey probably should apologize, but that doesn‚Äôt mean I‚Äôm going to demand an apology,‚ÄĚ he said Monday on ‚ÄúFox & Friends,‚ÄĚ adding: ‚ÄúThey certainly crossed the line, but their apology won‚Äôt mean anything to me.‚ÄĚ
When asked about the matter on Sunday ‚ÄĒ and again on Monday ‚ÄĒ NBC representatives said the network would not be commenting.
Davidson has not yet responded to the criticism.
Despite being told he would probably never see again, Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL, regained sight in his left eye and went on two more deployments. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs actually a miracle I can see at all and can continue serving the American people,‚ÄĚ he said on Fox.
Davidson seemed to be aware of Crenshaw‚Äôs background during Saturday‚Äôs ‚ÄúWeekend Update‚ÄĚ segment, in which he gave his ‚Äúfirst impressions‚ÄĚ of various candidates running in this election cycle.
‚ÄúThis guy is kind of cool, Dan Crenshaw,‚ÄĚ Davidson said, as an image of Crenshaw wearing an eye patch flashed on the screen.
His co-host, Michael Che, chuckled and said, ‚ÄúYo, come on.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHold on,‚ÄĚ Davidson replied. ‚ÄúYou may be surprised to hear he‚Äôs a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie.‚ÄĚ
The audience laughed.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm sorry; I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever,‚ÄĚ Davidson added, shrugging and grinning. ‚ÄúWhatever.‚ÄĚ
Online, scores of people have expressed anger over the sketch and demanded Davidson and NBC apologize.
‚ÄúGetting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country,‚ÄĚ Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that referenced Davidson‚Äôs much-publicized recent breakup with singer Ariana Grande.
Eric Trump tweeted that NBC and SNL ‚Äúshould be ashamed of themselves . . . Thankfully, we have brave men & women like @DanCrenshawTX otherwise gutless cowards like #PeteDavidson wouldn‚Äôt have a desk to sit behind.‚ÄĚ
The Texas Republican Party called the bit ‚Äúutterly abhorrent.‚ÄĚ
Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), another candidate who was mocked in Davidson‚Äôs sketch, said the jab at Crenshaw was a ‚Äúdisgrace‚ÄĚ and indicated that the comedian should be booted from the show.
‚ÄúWhat are NBC‚Äôs standards for firing? PC to insult wounded vets?!?‚ÄĚ King demanded, adding: ‚Äú(Davidson also insulted me. Who cares?!)‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThis is outrageous. It isn‚Äôt funny at all,‚ÄĚ wrote Dana Perino, a Fox News contributor and former White House press secretary. Crenshaw, she wrote, ‚Äúserved his country ‚ÄĒ sacrificed for it ‚ÄĒ and now is willing to serve again as a Member of Congress (or whatever).‚ÄĚ
On Monday, ‚ÄúThe View‚ÄĚ hosts called it a ‚Äúsucker punch,‚ÄĚ a ‚Äútone deaf‚ÄĚ statement and a ‚Äúreally crappy joke.‚ÄĚ
But Joy Behar said offensive humor is SNL‚Äôs ‚Äústock in trade‚ÄĚ and that the show ‚Äúdoesn‚Äôt take any prisoners.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThey took a shot at Alec Baldwin, who is part of their family, so they go after a lot of people,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúAnd this kid Davidson, his father died in 9/11, and he said, ‚ÄėI like making things of a dark, awkward ‚ÄĒ weird things that you don‚Äôt really find funny, funny. There‚Äôs nothing I won‚Äôt joke about, and I think it‚Äôs because of what happened to me.‚Äô
“So, I mean, he‚Äôs coming from a place of, you know, you make fun of things that are so painful to lighten the load. That‚Äôs where he‚Äôs coming from, I think.‚ÄĚ
Fellow SNL cast member Kenan Thompson also acknowledged the challenges that comedians are up against, but he said that Davidson ‚Äúmissed the mark.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs tough when you‚Äôre fishing for jokes, like that‚Äôs how stand-ups feel ‚ÄĒ like there‚Äôs no real filters out there in the world when they‚Äôre trying to go for a great joke,‚ÄĚ he said on the ‚ÄúToday‚ÄĚ show. ‚ÄúBut at the same time, when you miss the mark, you‚Äôre offending people. So you have to kind of like really be a little more aware, in my opinion.
‚ÄúHe definitely missed the mark, and I think he was more so commenting on the fact that the joke maybe didn‚Äôt land as hard as he wanted to, as opposed to being like, ‚ÄėI don‚Äôt care about veterans.‚Äô I think Pete‚Äôs a very humble dude, and he‚Äôs got a big heart. I don‚Äôt think he goes out to offend people. But stand-ups, they‚Äôre the ones that help us laugh through the most awful things in the first place, so they‚Äôre always fishing in weird places.‚ÄĚ
In a tweet over the weekend, Crenshaw acknowledged the overwhelming outrage over Davidson‚Äôs remarks.
He didn‚Äôt demand an apology, but he did urge the show‚Äôs writers not to use injured veterans as ‚Äúpunchlines.‚ÄĚ
Crenshaw later told TMZ that he didn‚Äôt necessarily want an apology.
‚ÄúI want us to get away from this culture where we demand apologies every time someone misspeaks,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúI think that would be very healthy for our nation to go in that direction. We don‚Äôt need to be outwardly outraged. I don‚Äôt need to demand apologies from them. They can do whatever they want, you know. They are feeling the heat from around the country right now, and that‚Äôs fine.‚ÄĚ
He added: ‚ÄúBut I would like [Davidson] and ‚ÄėSaturday Night Live‚Äô to recognize something, which is that veterans across the country probably don‚Äôt feel as though their wounds they received in battle should be the subject of a bad punchline for a bad joke. And here‚Äôs the real atrocity in all of this: It wasn‚Äôt even funny . . . It was just mean-spirited.‚ÄĚ
Appearing Monday morning on Fox, Crenshaw suggested that Davidson and his SNL colleagues consider pooling money together and donating to a veterans charity.