According to a press release shared with CNN on Thursday, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans has run a lengthy campaign about the history of the “Tonight Show” host of racist remarks.
MANAA said that it has been complaining about Leno’s comments for about 15 years. The group said that, in a recent zoom call between Leno, MANAA leader Guy Aoki, President Rob Chan and Vice President Lawrence Lim, the comedian expressed his remorse.
“The moment I made those jokes, I really deemed them harmless,” he told Leno in a joint press release with MANAA. “I was making fun of my enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth for them.”
CNN has reached out to Leno and MANAA for further comments for both reps.
Leno was documented in 2002 Jokes and comments about Chinese people and Koreans eating dogs continued for years.
According to the MANAA press release “In February 2002, after the first day of those jokes, then Karen Narsaki and the Executive Director of the Korean American President held a conference on the chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Alliance (APAMC, of which MANAA is a founding member). Call in with Tha Leno, who made some Koreans eat dogs. “
Leno said, “Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: either ‘we need to deal with this’ or ‘screw’ they don’t need to take them for granted,”. “Many times I sided with him even later when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”
He said, “I do not consider this particular case to be another example of a culture of cancellation, but a wrong that was done on my behalf. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology,” he said.
“I hope the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope that I can live up to their expectations in the future.”