WASHINGTON — The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) on Oct. 28 sent a letter to Paul Lee, president of the ABC Entertainment Group, in response to an offensive “Kids Table” segment aired on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
On Oct. 16, Kimmel ran a segment on his show called “Kids’ Table,” where he spoke with four children about various political issues. When asked how to address our national debt owed to China, one of the children suggested that the United States “shoot cannons all the way over and kill everyone in China.”
The audience laughed and Kimmel acknowledged the comment by saying, “That’s an interesting idea.” Before concluding the segment, he brought the comment up one more time, saying, “Should we allow the Chinese to live?” One child said “no” and the others said “yes.”
CAPAC’s letter called for Kimmel to issue a formal apology for airing the segment and requested that ABC Entertainment Group ensure that the segment is removed from all future broadcasts. CAPAC will also seek a meeting with ABC to discuss the need for racial diversity and tolerance in entertainment programming.
On Monday’s show, Kimmel said, “There seems to be a lot of people upset with me, more upset than usual … I think it was obvious that I didn’t agree with that statement, but apparently it wasn’t. So I just want to say I am sorry. I apologize. It was certainly not my intent to upset anyone.”
On Friday, ABC issued a statement saying that it “would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large” and promised to “minimize the distribution of the skit by removing it from all platforms and editing it out of any future airings of the show.”
Following are statements from CAPAC members.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “While Mr. Kimmel’s on-air apology for his ‘Kids’ Table’ segment lacked substance or sincerity, I am glad that ABC Entertainment Group apologized for the offensive segment and addressed the matter with the seriousness that it merits.
“I applaud the Asian American community’s swift organization and response to condemning the segment and demanding an immediate apology. Moving forward, I intend to have an open dialogue with ABC Entertainment Group to ensure that diversity is respected at every level of the organization.”
Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose), chair emeritus: “I am glad that ABC has issued an apology for remarks aired on its network against the Chinese people. It is important for everyone, especially children, to realize that hate speech left unchecked is dangerous. While Mr. Kimmel’s words still leave much to be desired, it is also up to all of us to ensure that everyone’s rights and dignity are respected.”
Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa): “I am thankful that ABC Entertainment Group has apologized on behalf of Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Kids’ Table’ segment and given this issue the serious attention it deserves. I also commend the Asian American community’s advocacy in response to this issue.
“While a child may not understand the prevalence of genocide or the ramifications of a joke suggesting the U.S. ‘kill everyone in China,’ a major network has a higher responsibility to its viewers and the public. As a member of CAPAC and also as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, I am pleased to know that ABC has demonstrated its commitment to the Asian American community and Asian viewers around the world. I look forward to working with my CAPAC colleagues to ensure that major networks continue to fulfill this responsibility.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “I acknowledge the apology offered by Jimmy Kimmel and ABC and thank them for recognizing the sensitivities involved in this matter. I appreciate them being responsive to our concerns, and I am confident that they will use better discretion and judgment in the future.”