On Wednesday, Ken Jennings seemed to put his proverbial foot his mouth when he poked fun at 11-year-old Barron Trump on Twitter in a tweet that slammed his presidential father. The incident was sparked by a very controversial piece of photo art featuring comedian Kathy Griffin holding a bloodied mask doctored to look like the severed head of Donald Trump. The photo was part of a shoot that took place between Griffin and infamous photographer Tyler Shields, and few people found it funny.
Griffin went on to apologize for the offensive photograph, admitting that she’d “gone too far” in a social media video apology shared far and wide. However, her words of contrition were too little, too late for many, and the stunt ended up costing her her CNN New Year’s Eve gig opposite Anderson Cooper.
The questionable photograph that put Griffin in hot water went viral and sparked a heated Twitter debate. It also drew heavy criticism from Donald and Melania Trump, with Donald adding that all of his children, especially 11-year-old Barron, had a “hard time” looking at the realistic severed head of his father. According to the POTUS, the photo art featuring Kathy Griffin was nothing more than “sick.”
Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
Celebrity gossip site TMZ even reported that Barron Trump thought that the bloody Trump mask was really his father. Reportedly, when the image flashed on the television, Barron began panicking, screaming and yelling for his mother.
“He’s 11. He doesn’t know who Kathy Griffin is and the head she was holding resembled his dad.”
This was about the point in the story that Jeopardy! champion and children’s book author Ken Jennings jumped into the Twitter fray. In a tweet that has been panned as inappropriate, Jennings responded to the rumors of Barron’s distress by brutally bagging on his dad. The tweet, which has been liked over 20,000 times and retweeted over 4,500 times, features Ken Jennings comparing Donald Trump to “a heap of expired deli meat” and “a very long necktie.”
According to Jennings, who rose to fame after winning a record-setting 74 consecutive Jeopardy! games, when 11-year-old Barron saw the necktie and expired meat “in a dumpster,” he believed that it was his father and “his little heart is breaking.”
Barron Trump saw a very long necktie on a heap of expired deli meat in a dumpster. He thought it was his dad & his little heart is breaking— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) May 31, 2017
This isn’t the first time that Barron Trump has been targeted since his former reality TV star dad jumped into the political fray. And, as in instances past, the Internet largely came to the defense of the youngest Trump, reports AOL News, arguing that children are off limits, no matter how unpopular their parents might be.
Twitter users quickly took Ken Jennings to task, calling him out for picking on Barron. Many directed their rage at Jennings’ career as a writer, calling on his publisher to dump him over the tweet. Some outraged Twitter users replied to Ken Jennings directly. Jennings, however, was completely unapologetic.
I have moved the necktie to one side of the ham but it still looks a little like the president. :(— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) May 31, 2017
As Fox News reports, even Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to defend his little brother. In a tweet, he predicted that “the left” would make excuses for the Jennings tweet. A few people did come to Ken Jennings’ defense, with at least one Twitter user justifying the comment based on the actions of the POTUS. However, the majority of Twitter users who took the time to comment on the shocking tweet seemed to support young Barron and agree that some lines shouldn’t be crossed. Even so, Ken Jennings continued to defiantly defend himself as the social media onslaught continued.
Jennings even directly responded to Donald Trump Jr., doing so with more of the dark satirical mockery he’d utilized in his original “expired deli meat in a dumpster” tweet. He wrote that he would prove his masculinity to the President’s son by killing “as many white rhinos as it takes.” Trump Jr. famously has famously raised eyebrows with his hunting habits, including hunting everything from big game to prairie dogs.
As TPM reports, POTUS himself even offered a hunting trip with his sons Donald Jr. and/or Eric to supporters who donated $500,000 or more towards a “post-inauguration event.” It has been presumed that Ken Jennings was referring to the Trump sons’ hunting hobby was the basis of his “white rhino” tweet.
While many are disturbed and even outraged by Ken Jennings’ recent use of Twitter, this isn’t the first time the Jeopardy! champ has raised eyebrows with his tweets. As TIME reports, in November 2015, Jennings found himself in hot water after appearing to make fun of a deceased Star Wars super fan who lost his battle with a terminal illness not long after being granted an early screening of the then-latest film in the franchise. According to Jennings, the death was “not a good sign.” Quite a few social media users took offense to his tweet, and he was quickly called out on Twitter for his tactless words. In 2014, Ken Jennings also caused a smaller social media uproar with his insensitive words about disabled people, stating that there is “Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.” At that time, he was also called out by his fellow Twitter users. However, far fewer people reacted to the 2014 tweet.
As of Thursday evening, Ken Jennings hasn’t removed the controversial tweet from his Twitter feed. According to Jennings, his words were justified and they weren’t intended to mock or target 11-year-old Barron. Rather, Ken Jennings says that the Twitter war was sparked because he was being used as “political cover.”
[Featured Image by Seth Wenig/AP Images]