Gay TV host fired for comparing Michelle Obama to ‘Planet of the Apes’
An openly gay Univision host has been sacked, after making racist comments about First Lady Michelle Obama.
Rodner Figueroa, who had won an Emmy for his work on the Spanish-language US network, made the offending comment during show El Gordo y la Flaca this week.
He said of the First Lady, while discussing a make-up artist: “You guys know that Michelle Obama looks like she was from the cast of Planet of the Apes.”
When his co-hosts objected to his comments, he insisted: “No, but it’s true!”
The network has reacted swiftly to the incident, editing the comments out of further broadcasts and pulling Figueroa off the air.
A statement said: “Yesterday during the entertainment program ‘El Gordo y La Flaca’, Rodner Figueroa made some comments about First Lady Michelle Obama that were completely reprehensible and in no way a reflection of the values and opinions of Univision.”
The host – who claims the First Lady’s office directly complained about the jibe – has said he did not intend his comments to be racist.
He said in an open letter to Michelle Obama: “I offer my sincerest apologies for a comment that I made about the characterization from a make-up artist that I made about you in the Univision entertainment program El Gordo y La Flaca.
“I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and it was directed personally to you, but to the characterization of the artist, that left a lot to be desired. The clip in full context is proof.
“I take responsibility for this lack of judgement in my part, but I can’t accept that I am being called a racist and being fired for that reason and being humiliated by Univision after working there for 17 years. I come from a bi-racial Latin family, with family members, like my father, who is Afro-Latino.
“I am the first presenter on Hispanic TV that is openly gay and I am an activist for causes that favour minorities, that have been discriminated against just like me.
“I openly voted twice for your husband Barack Obama, because I consider him a great man that respects minorities, like me, in this country.”