NBC apologizes for comedian's racial epithet

Friday, July 20, 2001

— A racial epithet that a comedian used on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" should have been removed from the broadcast, NBC said after an Asian-American watchdog group complained.

The joke "was clearly inappropriate and the fact that it was not edited by our standards and practices department was a mistake," the network said in a statement Wednesday.

"We have reviewed our procedures to ensure such an incident does not reoccur and we will edit the joke out of any future repeats of the show."

While bantering with host O'Brien on the show July 11, comedian Sarah Silverman used an epithet for people of Chinese descent.

"My friend is like, 'Why don't you write something inappropriate on the form like, "I hate chinks,'" Silverman said. But she didn't want to be thought a racist, she said, so "I just filled out the form and I wrote 'I love chinks' � and who doesn't?"

Guy Aoki, president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, called the network's statement "a nice start" but inadequate.

"It's one thing for NBC to apologize on behalf of one of its shows and another for the show to address it. ... I think Conan should say something happened last week that was inappropriate and we apologize if we hurt anybody."