Daytime talk host Wendy Williams is the target of a flood of angry social media posts after she appeared to mock actor Joaquin Phoenix’s “cleft palate,” The New York Post’s Page Six reports.
The Post reports that “fans and activists are getting upset about it” following the incident on her Jan. 7 show. You can see a clip of the segment in a Twitter post below.
“During the ‘Hot Topics’ segment of the episode, Williams, 55, started lusting after the ‘Joker’ star’s ‘piercing eyes,’ after his win at the Golden Globes the previous weekend,” The Post reports.
Williams is quoted saying of Phoenix: “When he shaves off his mustache he’s got a hairline fracture. He’s got one of those — what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate.”
Williams then placed her finger in her lip, imitating the relatively common birth defect, which the report notes occurs when a baby’s lips or mouth do not form properly.
“Phoenix, 45, has never formally spoken about the cause of the scar on his lip — and viewers are not taking Williams’ actions lightly,” The Post reports. “Adam Bighill, a Canadian professional football player who was born with a cleft lip and palate and whose infant son Beau was also born with the condition, has demanded an apology from Williams for the past five days. He says he will continue to tweet until he gets a response.”
British TV personality Carol Vorderman, who says she’s an “ambassador for the Cleft Lip and Palate Association,” also posted about the incident. The Post quotes her writing: “Mimicing [sic] a cleft lip, and making a joke about it, is disgraceful. Have you any idea the pain and operations a child with cleft must go through as they grow?”
Here’s a Twitter post that includes a clip of Williams talking about Phoenix’s “cleft palate” on her show …
For a solid 10 seconds she used her finger to mimic a cleft lip while the audience laughed. Imagine how my 5 year old would take it if he saw it? @WendyWilliams
— Matt Groark (@groarkboysbbq) January 8, 2020