Rosie Apologizes for Asian Joke on The View

12/14/2006 at 11:50 AM EST

Rosie Apologizes for Asian Joke on The View
Rosie O'Donnell
Mirek Towski/DMIPhoto
One-time "Queen of Nice" Rosie O'Donnell is out to regain her crown.

On The View on Thursday, O'Donnell addressed her now-infamous attempt at humor by speaking in mock Chinese, and made a formal, on-camera apology.

After running a clip of the offending segment, which originally ran Dec. 5, she said, "This apparently was very offensive to a lot of Asian people. So I asked Judy, who's Asian and works here in our hair and makeup department. I said, 'Was it offensive to you?' And she said, 'Well, kinda. When I was a kid people did tease me by saying ching-chong.'

"So apparently 'ching-chong,' unbeknownst to me, is a very offensive way to make fun, quote-unquote, or mock, Asian accents. Some people have told me it's as bad as the n-word. I was like, really? I didn't know that."

O'Donnell said that her joke was "never intended to hurt anyone, and I'm sorry for those people who felt hurt or were teased on the playground," but added that in the future, "there's a good chance that I'll do something like that again ... Not on purpose."

The controversy began when O'Donnell commented on a visit to the ABC morning show by a seemingly inebriated Danny DeVito, saying, "The fact is that it's news all over the world. That you know, you can imagine in China it's like: 'Ching chong. Danny DeVito, ching chong, chong, chong, chong. Drunk. The View. Ching chong.' "

The joke outraged many, including the group UNITY: Journalists of Color, which represents more than 10,000 journalists, and New York City councilman John C. Liu, who sent a letter to View executive producer Barbara Walters, demanding an apology.

Last weekend, O'Donnell's rep, Cindi Berger, said in a statement: "She's a comedian in addition to being a talk show co-host. I certainly hope that one day they will be able to grasp her humor."

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