Comedian on Fox News show apologizes to Canada
Published Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:25PM EDT
A comedian who appeared on a Fox News program that mocked Canada's military apologized to Canadians Tuesday and vowed he would never appear on the show again.
Doug Benson told CTV's Power Play that he was ignorant about the situation in Afghanistan and said considering the timing, the jokes he made about Canada were "completely out of line."
"I just want to say that I meant no disrespect to Canadians or to the Canadian military when I made those comments," Benson said from Los Angeles. "My comments were just meant to be silly and (were) absolutely misinformed -- I wasn't pretending to know what I was talking about, I'm not a political pundit."
"I'm sorry that I upset people, I'm a comedian, I want to make people laugh."
A group of pundits on Fox News' "Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld," each took turns trashing Canada and its military during an episode that aired on March 17, just before four Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan.
The clip outraged Canadians, including Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who called the segment "disgusting" and "crass."
Jacqueline Girouard, whose husband, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard, was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in November 2006, said there is no humour in what Canada has lost in the war.
"Every night I go to bed alone without a husband who I was married to for 27 years and was the father and hero to our three children," she said in an email to CTV.ca. "So again, there is nothing funny about this war. We live with this every day and hurtful comments do not help. It has been over two years since my husband was killed but feels like yesterday. Our soldiers' sacrifices should never ever be taken lightly."
Benson has already felt the impact of Canada's rage. He had a show in Edmonton cancelled after the owner of the comedy club received threats about Benson's performance.
Benson, who looked genuinely apologetic on Tuesday, said that he's been to Canada several times and he "truly loves it."
"I honestly said things, in retrospect, I completely regret . . . I can apologize, but people don't have to accept my apology . . . but certainly, I would love to come back to Canada someday," he said.
The controversial show
The host of the show, Greg Gutfeld, apologized on Monday saying, "I realize that my words may have been misunderstood. It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize."
But the host also seemed to defend his program, adding "Red Eye is a satirical take on the news, in which all topics are addressed in a lighthearted, humorous and ridiculous manner."
On the show, Gutfeld mocked Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, chief of land staff, who suggested in early March that the military may need a year-long break in operations due to personnel and equipment shortages.
"Once their Afghan mission winds down sometime in 2011, certain members of the Canadian military are looking to take a much-deserved break. And by certain members I mean all of them," Gutfeld said.
"Meaning, the Canadian military wants to take a breather to do some yoga, paint landscapes, run on the beach in gorgeous white Capri pants."
In the four-minute segment, Gutfeld asked the other three members of his panel: "Isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country? They have no army!"
Benson replied: "I didn't even know they were in the war. I thought that's where you go when you don't want to fight. Go chill in Canada."
While the show aired a week ago, it came to light in Canada after the recent deaths of the four soldiers.
An outraged Canadian posted the clip from the show to YouTube with a comment that said, "Fox News belittles and mocks the Canadian military."
In an interview with CTV Newsnet Monday, MacKay demanded an apology.
"It's crass, it's insensitive, it's in fact disgusting given the timing where Canada is just receiving back four fallen heroes here at CFB Trenton," MacKay said.
Benson said on Tuesday that the segment was only based on one article they read and they never researched Canada's role in Kandahar.
"The host . . . all he says is stuff that is meant to incite people and every question he asks the panelists is just ridiculous," he said. "We just have to respond . . . as a comedian on the show I don't necessarily agree with everything that's going on around me on the show, and certainly am not planning on appearing on that show again."