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White House rejects petition to cancel Kimmel’s show after China controversy

Jimmy Kimmel at Variety's 4th Annual Power of Comedy in Hollywood, California.
Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Variety

The White House has responded to a petition urging the government to remove ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” after a sketch featured a child suggesting to “kill everyone in China.”

The official White House response stated that “the federal government cannot force ABC to remove this show” because “the Constitution protects free speech.”

Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel came under fire on Oct. 16, 2013 after airing a segment called “Kids Table”, where he asked children how the U.S. government should pay back its $1.3 trillion debt to China.

A six-year-old boy suggested to “kill everyone in China” as a solution, to which Kimmel replied: “That’s an interesting idea.”

Three days after the episode aired, a petition was created on calling for a “sincere apology” and for the show to be “cut.”

The petition slammed Kimmel and ABC’s management for airing the program because it promotes “racial hatred.”

It quickly garnered more than 100,000 signatures, which is the minimum amount required for a White House response.

In the statement, the White House noted that ABC and Jimmy Kimmel have apologized and removed the segment from future broadcasts.

The White House also stated that the comments “do not reflect mainstream views of China in the United States.”

“As the President has stated publicly, the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China,” the White House said.

This wasn’t the first time Jimmy Kimmel apologized over controversial events.

In 2004, Jimmy Kimmel appeared on ABC’s halftime show during the NBA Finals, saying if the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, “they’re gonna burn the city of Detroit down… and it’s not worth it.” The halftime show did not air and Kimmel later apologized.

In a separate incident, a skit on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” involving children reenacting a bizarre Kanye West interview prompted West to demand an apology. Kimmel invited West onto his show and apologized to him.

The White House press office is well versed at responding to impractical petitions.

In 2012, a petition called for a Death Star to be built as a way of stimulating the economy and strengthening defense. A response released in January 2013 rejected the idea, noting that “the Administration does not support blowing up planets” and that a Death Star would cost more than $850 quadrillion to build.

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