Comedian Tracy Morgan's apology for a homophobic onstage tirade hasn't satisfied the gay rights groups that demanded an explanation, and his coworkers are lining up in rebuke.
Tina Fey, producer and costar on Morgan's sitcom 30 Rock has released a statement to TMZ. "The violent imagery of Tracy's rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community," Fey says.
"It also doesn't line up with the Tracy Morgan I know, who is not a hateful man and is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person.
Fey, who is the mother of one child and is pregnant with her second, adds, "I hope for his sake that Tracy's apology will be accepted as sincere by his gay and lesbian co-workers at 30 Rock, without whom Tracy would not have lines to say, clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with, or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket."
According to TMZ, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt claims the network has already warned Morgan about the outburst, saying, "Tracy's comments reflect negatively on both 30 Rock and NBC -- two very all-inclusive and diverse organizations -- and we have made it clear to him that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated."
The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement saying the 30 Rock star "did the right thing by apologizing," but "that's just not enough." On its blog, Truth Wins Out said, "We are glad that he recognizes that he hurt and offended people. However, questions remain." Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays executive director Jody Huckaby called for "meaningful action to prove the sincerity of that apology" and condemned Morgan for joking about violence "when kids are being assaulted, are dying."
Kevin Rogers was in the Nashville audience and was the whistle-blower on Morgan's jokes. In a post to his Facebook page, Rogers described the scene as Morgan called gay people "mistakes," said lesbians just hate men and don't have real attraction to women, and advised gays to "quit being pussies" and stop whining about bullying in schools. Then, Rogers said, Morgan talked about stabbing his son to death if he were effeminate.
In Morgan's formal apology, he said that "while I am an equal opportunity jokester, and my friends know what is in my heart, even in a comedy club this clearly went too far and was not funny in any context."
Rogers accepted the apology from Morgan during an interview with CNN today -- albeit with caveats.
"I only hope that it actually is genuine and that's how he feels," Rogers said. "If that's the case, and he shows my community and his fans that he truly is sorry for those remarks, and takes content like that from his show, then yeah, I greatly accept his apology."
But HRC spokesman Fred Sainz said the damage is done.
"Words have consequences and Morgan should be held to a higher standard," Sainz said in a statement. "Until he does something meaningful, his brand will remain tarnished."
Suggestions for how Morgan should atone for his tirade were wide-ranging on Twitter, where fans expressed shock. Some said he should volunteer at a center for homeless gay youth to see the reality of being ostracized by family. Other suggested donations to gay charities, while still others said NBC should fire him from 30 Rock.
"If Tracy Morgan is sincere, he should take us up on meeting these families who have lost loved ones to the type of violence that he is mocking," said Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation president Jarrett Barrios in a statement. "Perhaps by hearing their stories, he will learn that while we all love humor, this is no laughing matter."
The comedian's words did have an effect, Rogers said.
"It had gotten to the point within the rant that I was actually a little numb to everything that was being said," he told CNN. "I was still trying to process everything and decide if there was going to be a punch line somewhere and exactly what was I hearing. To me, the entire thing really did hurt me."