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Jay Leno apologizes for past jokes about Asian people

Comedian and former NBC’s “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno has apologized for his past jokes about Asian people, reports Entertainment Weekly. During his time on “The Tonight Show,” Leno made numerous jokes about Koreans eating dogs, and most recently he appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2019 and made a Korean dog eating joke to an Asian staffer. For around 15 years, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) demanded Leno apologize for his jokes but it never came. However, on Wednesday he said he had a change of heart and issued an apology in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki.

“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless. I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them,” Leno said. 

“At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.

“That is why I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology.  I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”

MANAA president Rob Chan said he’s happy Jay came around and he’s looking forward to working with Leno to “stamp out systemic racism towards the AAPI community.”

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