Whoopi Goldberg began a segment with an explanation for a joke she made at Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s expense during a discussion about abortion rights and marriage equality with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on The View on Thursday, September 22. After a commercial break, the moderator defended her comment. “It was a joke. Nothing more than that,” she explained.
The press secretary had referenced Graham’s recent proposal for a nationwide abortion ban, and she warned that such a bill would set a precedent for other issues. “It’s not just abortion. It’s going to be on marriage. It’s going to be on contraception. It’s going to be on our privacy,” she said, before mentioning that the South Carolina senator had made conflicting comments before proposing the bill. “Senator Graham had said—maybe about a month ago, early August—that he believes when it comes to marriage, when it comes to abortion, it’s for states to decide. So, Senator Graham, what changed?”
Whoopi responded to the question with a quip at Graham’s expense. “Maybe he’s getting married. Do it quick, because I know people are fooling around with our marriage rights,” she said. While the co-host didn’t make any outright statements about the senator’s sexuality, some interpreted the comment as such. An editor for Media Research Center and conservative outlet Newsbusters Nicholas Fondacaro accused Whoopi of “dabbling in homophobic bigotry,” on Twitter. “This plays to the smear that Graham is closeted,” he wrote.
When the show returned from a commercial break, Whoopi explained that she wasn’t making a serious statement. “I was doing what I do as a comic. Sometimes I make jokes,” she said. “I just got a whole conversation about people misunderstanding the joke. I mean, okay. I should probably never do this show again if this is what it’s coming to. It was a joke, guys.”
This isn’t the first time that Whoopi has called out the Republican senator. When he questioned Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings, Whoopi said that he should be “ashamed,” after he had voted to confirm her in the past for the D.C. Court of Appeals in the past.
The comedian was involved in controversy back in February, when she was called out for making a comment on The View, where she said that the Holocaust was “not about race.” In the next episode, she apologized and brought on Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt to explain why comments like that were harmful. Still, she was suspended for two weeks from the show. Upon her return, she thanked those who helped educate her during her time away. “I listened to everything everybody had to say, and I was very grateful. I hope it keeps the important conversations happening, because we’re going to keep having tough conversations,” she said at the time.