It’s been nearly three months since a photograph of Kathy Griffin posing with a replica of President Donald Trump‘s bloodied, decapitated head in her hand sparked nationwide outrage — and changed her life forever.
In an in-depth interview with New York magazine’s The Cut, the comedian — who, in the wake of the scandal, was fired from the CNN New Year’s Eve broadcast that she had co-hosted with Anderson Cooper for 10 years — discussed the controversial photo at length, revealing that it was the catalyst that ultimately ended her nearly two decade-long friendship with Cooper.
When the photo surfaced on May 30, the CNN anchor took to Twitter to condemn it: “For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in,” he wrote. “It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.”
According to Griffin, in the following days, four of Cooper’s CNN colleagues reached out repeatedly to check on her and offer private support. Cooper, however, didn’t contact Griffin until Aug. 10, The Cut confirmed with CNN.
On July 26, when asked about his relationship with Griffin on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Cooper said that the two were still friends.
“Yeah, we’re still friends,” he said. “And look, I said what I said about — I didn’t think what she said was appropriate, but I wish her the best and I hope she bounces back. She’s incredibly funny and a lot of people love her and I think she’ll bounce back from this.”
Cooper had previously made similar statements during an appearance at Arizona’s Comerica Theatre on June 11: “I don’t want anybody’s career to be destroyed because they do something unfortunate and inappropriate,” he said at the time. “Look, I wish her well and I hope she bounces back and keeps doing what she does best, which is make people laugh.”
“CNN made the decision not to bring her back,” he added. “I had nothing to do with it, but I certainly understand why they made that decision.”
Griffin, 56, told the magazine that the fact that Cooper was publicly claiming they were friends while not checking in with her hurt deeply. When he finally reached out to her in a series of text messages, she told him their friendship was over.
A source close to Cooper, 50, told the magazine that Cooper was “shocked and upset by the photo, and while he was not ready to talk to her personally about it, he still considered her to be a friend, and was publicly supportive when asked about the controversy.”
According to Griffin, other celebrities were more solicitous in the aftermath, such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jamie Foxx, who both spoke publicly in support of the comedian. According to Griffin, Amy Schumer personally sent her a funny video and former Today show host Billy Bush — who was notoriously caught up in his own Trump-related scandal — reportedly suggested in a note that Griffin stay quiet for a while and take up meditation.
Despite the far-reaching consequences of the photo, Griffin told The Cut she’s tired of apologizing for it.
“Why are people still expecting me to apologize and grovel to a man that tweets like this?” she said. “I’m a comedian; he’s our f—ing president.”
“President Trump just pardoned Joe Arpaio, who was essentially running a concentration camp in the Arizona desert,” she later added. “He said there are some good Nazis, and he’s kicking out young adults who were brought here as kids by their parents, and I’m the one who has to continue to apologize?”