Norm Macdonald goes from one controversy to another by telling Howard Stern: 'You'd have to have Down syndrome' not to 'feel sorry' for harassment victims

Norm Macdonald’s way of handling a controversy appears to be to create a new one.

The comedian experienced swift fallout over his victim-blaming comments to the Hollywood Reporter while defending friends Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr, leading him to issue an apology. It wasn’t enough for the Tonight Show, which disinvited him from the program just an hour before his appearance on Tuesday. By Wednesday, however, the star of the new Netflix show Norm MacDonald Has a Show had stirred up even more drama on The Howard Stern Show. While discussing the controversy, he said, “You’d have to have Down syndrome to not feel sorry” for victims of harassment.

During the Sirius XM interview, the former Saturday Night Live personality, who is 58, said he “never defended” Barr, who lost her job over racist remarks, or Louis C.K., who was dropped by FX after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. “I am completely behind the #MeToo movement,” MacDonald insisted. “You’d have to have Down syndrome to not feel sorry” for the victims of harassment. “#MeToo is what you want for your daughters and you want that to be the future world, of course. And I meet all kinds of women with terrible stories of what’s happened to them. So, I wasn’t talking about the victims. They asked me about Roseanne.” For good measure, he repeated himself: “Down syndrome. That’s my new word.”

Reactions to his latest controversial comments haven’t been kind.

However, some of his fans found it to be a very calculated comment.

During his chat with the shock jock, Macdonald talked about Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon coming backstage personally to tell him that his invitation had been rescinded. Initially, the plan was to have Macdonald make a statement to smooth things over at the top of the show, but the plan changed. “Jimmy came back in, said, ‘Can I talk to you, buddy?’ He was very broken up about it. He said, ‘I don’t know what to do. It’s just that I have so much pressure. People are crying. Senior producers are crying.’ I said bring them in and let me talk to them. I don’t want to make people cry. Jimmy said, ‘Come back whenever you want, but I think it might hurt the show tonight.’”

Macdonald added that he spoke to Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos before he issued his apology Tuesday on Twitter. “He is one of the greatest people to ever come into my life,” he said. “He knows I am a good person. Ted said, ‘We don’t want to hear legalese; write your own thing.’”

In the Hollywood Reporter interview, Macdonald said he was “happy” the #MeToo movement “has slowed down a little bit. It used to be, ‘One hundred women can’t be lying.’ And then it became, ‘One woman can’t lie.’ And that became, ‘I believe all women.’ And then you’re like, ‘What?’ Like, that Chris Hardwick guy I really thought got the blunt end of the stick there.”

He continued: “The model used to be: Admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition, and then we give you a second chance. Now it’s: admit wrongdoing and you’re finished. And so the only way to survive is to deny, deny, deny. That’s not healthy — that there is no forgiveness.”

“I do think that at some point it will end with a completely innocent person of prominence sticking a gun in his head and ending it. That’s my guess. I know a couple of people this has happened to.”
When asked who he was referring to, Macdonald replied, “Well, Louis [C.K.] and Roseanne [Barr] are the two people I know.”

He talked about what he saw happen to Barr, with whom he worked on the Roseanne reboot, and Louis C.K., who are both personal friends of his. “There are very few people that have gone through what they have, losing everything in a day. Of course, people will go, ‘What about the victims?’ But you know what? The victims didn’t have to go through that.”

While talking with Stern, Macdonald said that he shouldn’t “do interviews” anymore — “especially print interviews” — after the Hollywood Reporter debacle. “They ask you questions that maybe you don’t want to answer,” he said. “I’m a f***ing dumb guy. I get confused a lot and s***.”

Perhaps he really should consider an interview ban.

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