Rosie Really Sorry for "Ching-Chong" Crack

Rosie O'Donnell apologizing for using the phrase ching-chong while speaking in mock Chinese on The View last week, saying she's sorry and never intended to hurt anyone

By Gina Serpe Dec 14, 2006 10:06 PMTags

Rosie O'Donnell is sorry you don't get her sense of humor—and that she might have offended you. And she's pretty sure it won't happen again.

The loose-lipped View host has issued something of an apology for repeatedly using the phrase "ching chong" while speaking in mock Chinese tones last week, saying that she "never intended to hurt anyone."

"This apparently was very offensive to a lot of Asian people," she said on Thursday's show, going on to note that she didn't realize she had crossed a P.C. line until she chatted about the incident with an Asian staff member.

"So apparently 'ching-chong,' unbeknownst to me, is a very offensive way to make fun, quote unquote, or mock, Asian accents. Some people have told me it's as bad as the N-word. I was like, really? I didn't know that."

While O'Donnell said she was "sorry for those people who felt hurt or were teased on the playground" with the taunt, she also claimed that, as far as her comments go, "there's a good chance that I'll do something like that again."

"Not on purpose," she added.

Unsurprisingly, the provisional mea culpa didn't sit well with at least one Asian organization.

Karen Lincoln Michel, president of Unity: Journalists of Color Inc., told the Associated Press that O'Donnell's words "really didn't sound like an apology to me."

"I think by alowing Rosie O'Donnell's cheap jabs at Chinese Americans to go unchecked, then the network is essentially condoning racial and ethnic slurs," she said, adding that one of the comic's cohosts should have stepped in when the remarks were first made.

Last week, while describing the media sensation caused by Danny DeVito's seemingly drunken appearance on the show, O'Donnell hypothesized that the story had global impact.

"The fact is that it's news all over the world," she said on the Dec. 5 show. "You know, you can imagine in China it's like, 'Ching-chong, ching-chong. Danny DeVito. Ching-chong, ching-chong-chong. Drunk. The View. Ching-chong.'"

While O'Donnell's fellow coffee talkers were brought to chuckles by the commentary, some in the Asian community weren't.

New York City Councilman John C. Liu fired off a letter to View matron Barbara Walters, scolding the TV vet for allowing the "derogatory remarks" to be allowed on air. O'Donnell's words, he wrote, "have consequences beyond the stupidity of the person who made them."

The Asian-American Journalists Association also got in on the reproaching act, calling O'Donnell's ill-advised impression "insulting," and said it characterized Chinese as being "substandard to English-speaking people."

O'Donnell shot back, though in less apologetic tones than her latest on-air contrition.

"I certainly hope that one day they will be able to grasp her humor," the comic's rep, Cindi Berger, said earlier this week.

It's not the first time in recent weeks the former Queen of Nice has offended.

Last month, O'Donnell engaged in a headline-grabbing tiff with Kelly Ripa over Clay Aiken. Responding to an incident on Live with Regis and Kelly in which the guest-hosting American Idol alum covered Ripa's mouth, prompting Ripa to crack that she didn't know where his hand had been, O'Donnell blasted Ripa for making what O'Donnell deemed a homophobic comment.

Ripa defended herself by calling in to the View, saying O'Donnell's claims of homophobia were "outrageous." In that case, O'Donnell failed to offer a formal apology, with the twosome apparently agreeing to disagree.