Jay Leno is apologizing for a series of jokes he told throughout his career which is being called racist against Asian-Americans.
The former ‘Tonight Show’ host issued the apology after meeting with the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) following an incident where he told a distasteful joke perpetuating the stereotype about Asian communities consuming cat and dog meat.
As you know, the most recent incident occurred in 2019, while Leno was a guest host on ‘America’s Got Talent’ where he made a racist joke about Koreans eating dog meat.
See Jay Leno’s Apology…Below.
“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said on a call with MANAA leader Guy Aoki.
He continued, “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them. At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”
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Jay Leno’s Korean joke was cut from NBC’s broadcast of ‘AGT’ but it was included in a report about Gabrielle Union’s complaint about the show’s problematic workplace culture.
“I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part,” Leno said.
Adding, “MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”
MANAA got involved in the Jay Leno situation after it was announced the comedian was named host of the rebooted game show, ‘You Bet Your Life.’
At the time, Guy Aoki wrote a letter to Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy after the firing of Leno or the organization would go after the shows advertisers.
A few months later, a meeting was set up with Aoki and Leno as well as MANAA president Rob Chan and vice president Lawrence Lim.
The Leno apology comes at a time when crimes against Asian-Americans are at an all-time high — including the recent mass shooting of massage parlor workers in the Atlanta area.