Actor Tim Matheson is under fire for a joke about former first lady Melania Trump. On Friday, Matheson commented on a news story about first lady Jill Biden on Twitter, comparing her to Melania by saying: "So wonderful to have a First Lady with class and heart. And, can speak English!" Many derided Matheson's joke as bigotry.
Matheson was replying to an NBC News tweet about Jill Biden taking cookies out to the National Guard troops in Washington D.C. He deleted his joke before long, but it had already been captured in screenshots all over the site by then. Many critics condemned the joke, saying this was the wrong approach to criticize the Trump family. They argued that no one should be mocked just for speaking English as a second language.
deleted, but the List comes for all, @Tim_Matheson.
✍🏼✍🏼✍🏼 pic.twitter.com/FEvWoFoe6n— Siraj Hashmi in Gitmo (@SirajAHashmi) January 23, 2021
"you don't respect Melania because of her accent? Thank you for showing us the real you. R A C I S T," one person wrote. "I do have an accent too! And she represents me. Therefore you are mocking me too!"
Another person added: "Tim, my parents were doctors in Cuba who came to the US escaping Castro. After years of hard work they got their MD's again and practiced for 30 years. Still, throughout their professional lives here there were always fools like you who mocked their accents."
At first, Matheson fought back against the criticisms, writing in another deleted tweet: "Comedy is sometimes cruelly honest. The ex-First Lady doesn't have any of my respect for anything. Sorry."However, a few hours later, he rescinded all these statements and apologized.
I was going to tweet thank you for being a big enough person to apologize, but then I saw this. pic.twitter.com/WhQSMeOS7v— 🙄Erin 🤔 (@MsErinMurray) January 23, 2021
"This morning I made a hasty and stupid joke about the former First Lady," Matheson tweeted later in the day. "It wasn't funny, and it was in poor taste. It was regretful and humorless and I apologize."
Many thought this was too little, too late after Matheson argued with followers for hours over the throw-away comment, but some defended him. Many called it "refreshing" to see someone simply own up to a mistake and apologize on social media.
Matheson, 73 years old, has a long and historic career in Hollywood, with one of his best-known roles being Eric "Otter" Stratton in National Lampoon's Animal House. Years later, he came to be associated with U.S. politics after playing Vice President John Hoynes on the drama The West Wing.
Matheson is still taking film roles to this day, his most recent being the 2019 remake of Child's Play. However, there is nothing new upcoming on Matheson's IMDb page.