VERIFY – YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE’LL FIND ANSWERS
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Comedian Kathy Griffin made headlines this week for her now infamous photo holding a bloody head resembling that of President Donald Trump.
Amidst the controversy swirling around the 56-year-old actress, a comment made by her attorney, Dmitry Gorin on Friday caught our attention.
“She basically exercised her First Amendment rights to tell a joke,” Gorin said during a press conference. “When you look at everything in the media, all the times entertainers make videos or express themselves in other ways, you’ve never seen an entertainer, let alone a comedian, be subject to a criminal investigation.”
He was responding to news that the Secret Service opened an investigation into Griffin.
We decided to verify his claim that other entertainers haven’t had to answer similar questions after making off-color remarks about a sitting president or another high-ranking official.
WHAT WE FOUND
A quick Internet search revealed Gorin is wrong.
The Secret Service questioned actor Ted Nugent in 2012 after he told an audience of gun lobbyists that he’d be dead or in jail if President Barack Obama won re-election.
Reports also circulated that Madonna caught the attention of the Secret Service in January when she told a crowd at the Women’s March on Washington that she thought about blowing up the White House.
A professional fighter with Ultimate Fighting Championship named Jacob Volkman had the Secret Service knocking on his door in 2011 after he told reporters at a press conference that someone should “knock some sense” into then President Obama.
And way back in 2003, agents went to talk to rapper Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) because of song lyrics he wrote.
A line from the song “We As Americans” says "I don't rap for dead presidents. I'd rather see the president dead."
When a celebrity makes inappropriate remarks, or creates disturbing imagery featuring a president, the Secret Service questions that person about his or her intent.
The Secret Service isn’t treating Griffin differently than any other celebrity in a similar situation.
It would be unprecedented if Griffin were to be charged with a crime, but that hasn’t happened yet.