Dog The Bounty Hunter star Duane "Dog" Chapman defended himself against longstanding racism claims, which have followed the reality television star for more than a decade, in a new New York Times profile. Chapman's television career was put in jeopardy back in 2007 when son Tucker sold a phone recording in which Chapman used the n-word repeatedly to the National Enquirer. Chapman told the Times he thought he "had a pass" because his mother is Native American.
"I thought I had a pass," Chapman told the Times. "It was a word I grew up using. I was wrong."
The Dog's Most Wanted star admitted he will "never be forgiven" for the incident.
"Some people form an opinion of me that I can't change, but you've talked to me and I'm not a racist," he continued before telling the Times he supports several churches and charities, and believes he is the perfect example of the success of second chances. "That's something nobody wants to talk about, people just want to focus on the negatives."
In 2007, the National Enquirer published a recording of Chapman using the n-word six times in 45 seconds. There was immediate backlash, with A&E pausing Dog the Bounty Hunter production, licensing deals were ended and his book You Can Run But You Can't Hide was pulled from bookstores. Chapman's attorney at the time, Brook Hart, later confirmed to The Associated Press that Chapman's son Tucker sold the tape to the Enquirer for "a lot of money."
At the time, Chapman also issued a statement apologizing, saying he has "utmost respect and aloha for black people who have suffered so much due to racial discrimination and acts of hatred."
"I did not mean to add yet another slap in the face to an entire race of people who have brought so many gifts to this world," Chapman continued. "I am ashamed of myself and I pledge to do whatever I can to repair this damage I have caused."
"I know that all of my fans are deeply disappointed in me, as well, as I have tried to be a model for doing the right thing," Chapman later said. "I did not do the right thing this time, and hope you will forgive me."
In the end, A&E resumed production on Dog the Bounty Hunter, which continued until 2012. The series was followed by Dog and Beth: On The Hunt (2013-2015), the 2017 special Dog and Beth: Fight of Their Lives and the new WGN series Dog's Most Wanted. These shows all co-starred Chapman's wife Beth Chapman, who died in June at age 51.
"I am the prime example of the system: The bail bond system, the legal system, of crime," Chapman told the Times. "I'm a second chance. Guys who don't have job hopes when they get out, why do you think they go back to what they were doing before they were convicted? If I can change, anyone can. But it's going to be a lot harder now without Beth, that's for sure."
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