Former talk show host Jay Leno apologized Wednesday for past jokes about Asians and said in his “heart” he knew it “was wrong.”
“At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it,” the 70-year-old comedian and former host of “The Tonite Show with Jay Leno” shared in a joint statement with the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), according to The Wrap.
Jay Leno apologizes for decades of anti-Asian jokes: “I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part” https://t.co/8x7DVOd5ml
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) March 24, 2021
“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,'” he added.
“Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong,” Leno continued in the statement. “That is why I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part.”
The outlet listed close to nine different times between 2002 and 2012 that the host of “Jay Leno’s Garage,” made jokes about Koreans eating cats or dogs.
“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” the former host of the NBC late show explained. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.” (RELATED: Biden Says Atlanta Massage Shootings Are ‘Very Troubling’ But He’s Still ‘Waiting For An Answer’’ On Shooter’s Motive)
“MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology,” he added. “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.” (RELATED: Olivia Munn, LeBron James And More Stars Call Out Violent Attacks On Asians After Atlanta Shooting)
“I was shocked and saddened by what has been happening to my fellow citizens in the Asian community,” he continued. “I would be deeply hurt and ashamed if somehow my words did anything to incite this violence. With MANAA’s help, I would like to do what I can to help the healing process.”
The comments come following a shooting at three massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia, that left eight people dead, six of whom were Asians.