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Norm Macdonald backpedals on #MeToo comments — with another insult

The deadpan comic said he supports the #MeToo reckoning. And then he kept talking.
Norm Macdonald performs in 2017.Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images file

LOS ANGELES — Norm Macdonald appears to be in damage control mode.

The acerbic stand-up comedian told Howard Stern on Wednesday that his controversial comments about the #MeToo movement, Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr had been misconstrued, insisting that he supports the national reckoning with sexual misconduct.

"I never defended them," Macdonald said of his old friends C.K. and Barr, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I am completely behind the #MeToo movement."

But in the radio interview with Stern, Macdonald reportedly mixed contrition with what could be interpreted as an insult against people who are intellectually disabled.

"You'd have to have Down syndrome not to feel sorry for — #MeToo is what you want for your daughters and you want that to be the future world, of course," Macdonald said. "And I meet all kinds of women with terrible stories of what's happened to them."

Macdonald was criticized on Tuesday after the publication of an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in he said he was happy #MeToo "slowed down a bit." He lamented that people accused of wrongdoing, such as C.K. and Barr, were seeing their careers cut short, adding that "the victims didn't have to go through that."

C.K., who wrote the forward to Macdonald's recent book, admitted to sexual misconduct against five women. Barr, who gave Macdonald his first job in Hollywood as a writer on her ABC sitcom, was fired from the reboot of that show after a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to former President Barack Obama.

Macdonald has publicly apologized for those comments, tweeting on Tuesday night that he was "deeply sorry" if it "sounded like I was minimizing the pain that their victims feel to this day."

The former "Saturday Night Live" player is set to return to television on Friday with the debut of his new Netflix talk show, "Norm Macdonald Has a Show." The streaming service did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the furor over the comedian's remarks.

But in his interview with Stern, Macdonald suggested he still had the support of the Netflix brass.

"[Netflix Chief Content Officer] Ted Sarandos was the greatest," he said. "He is one of the greatest people to ever come into my life. He knows I am a good person. Ted said we don't want to hear legalese, write your own thing," Macdonald claimed, referring to his apology tweet.

The contrition was apparently not enough for NBC's "The Tonight Show," which canceled his Tuesday appearance "out of sensitivity to our audience," a spokesperson for the show said in a statement. (When asked by Stern if other TV appearances had been nixed, Macdonald said: "They haven't said anything yet.")

Macdonald also offered up some general thoughts about the controversy.

"I wish I never had to do an interview, especially a print interview, because they edit it and put it together and ask you questions that maybe you don't want to answer. And they put things together that you're saying, and I'm a [expletive] dumb guy. I get confused."