Kathie Lee Gifford drops a puppy on its head, then blames the puppy

I could frame this as an animal rights post, but it’s not. It’s a post about a case of indecency — not of human cruelty but of human callousness and stupidity. It’s trivial in the midst of this political season, I admit, but it was so offensive to me that I want to go on the record. I’m talking, of course, about Kathie Lee Gifford dropping a puppy on its head on live TV, and then blaming the puppy.

Many have talked about how the Today Show has deteriorated in recent years, and the last hour with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb is a national joke. Gifford should be removed from the air before she does something even worse. Last Thursday, during a lightweight segment about puppy adoption, Kathy Lee went off script and insisted she be handed one of the puppies that was there as a prop. Within seconds she dropped the puppy on its head, its neck bending at a right angle sideways as it hit the floor. It’s very possible the puppy is OK; puppies are pretty resilient. But it’s also more than possible it was hurt, and I don’t trust NBC or the segment guest from North Shore Animal League (who wouldn’t want to burn bridges) to tell the truth on that.
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Whether the puppy is OK or not, Gifford is an embarassment, and has been for a long time. The internet is full of clips of her drunken on-air mistakes, and she’s long been an SNL skit as well. Kathy Lee was in many ways a forerunner of today’s pseudo-reality stars. Her fame came from sharing, on Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, about the mundane details of day-to-day life with her celebrity husband Frank Gifford and their two children. (And does anyone else remember the big scandal back in ’96 around her clothing line being made in Honduran sweatshops?) But the on-air drunkenness on her new show has taken things to another level.

The thing that really got me really mad, though, was the follow-up segment on Friday, where Matt Lauer in damage control mode made a joke of the entire thing, with Kathy Lee claiming the puppy is OK, then proceeding to say, a) that she’s a wreck (poor victim), and b) that it was the puppy’s fault. Seriously. She blamed the puppy. Watch the segment and see if you can believe it. She said that it smelled, and suggested it was maybe a bit off. Kathie Lee Gifford dropped a puppy on its head from 4 feet in the air, and is saying it was the puppy’s fault. Everyone on the air Friday morning seemed to go along with this except Al Roker who, while still making a joke of it, at least aimed his humor rather sharply at Gifford. They also showed the loop of her dropping the puppy five times, for comedy value. I’m not sure who can watch the clip and think it’s funny. I find it upsetting.

Animal rights is an issue many of my friends are passionate about. One or two have devoted their careers to it. It’s not a focus of mine, though I avoid the output of factory farms and applaud the shutting down of puppy mills and animal testing. I’m sure some readers will think I’m being ridiculous making an issue of this, but I can’t abide callous disregard for the suffering of other creatures. And I can’t abide people who blame a victim rather than take responsibility for the harm they’ve done. Kathy Lee Gifford’s attitude is summed up in her first line from the segment Friday morning: “The puppy’s OK but I’m a wreck.” Yes, Kathie Lee, it’s all about you. Not the little helpless creature you might have killed. It’s about you.

About Phil Fox Rose

Phil Fox Rose is a writer, editor and content lead based in New York. He is coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of New York, helping promote centering prayer, which has been his contemplative practice for nearly 20 years. Raised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil has journeyed through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Now he's a congregant, worship leader, cook and chair of the leadership team at St. Lydia's, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY, and spends as much time in nature as possible. Phil has been a political party leader, videographer, tech journalist, punk roadie, software designer, sheepherder, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread is the process of learning about stuff, figuring it out and then sharing that understanding with others. Follow Phil by RSS feed, email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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  • Robin

    I agree Kathie Lee’s time is up — and was up a loooong time ago! Never watch her anymore, it’s too painful to watch this self-absorbed narcissistic woman! Poor puppy! How would Lee have liked it if somebody dropped her baby and then joked about it and blamed the baby!! I am glad you posted your article on this!

  • praline

    It was an accident. Anyone who spends time around puppies has either accidentally stepped on a tail, had one jump out of their arms… accidents happen. I do agree the comedy end of things is over the top. its not funny. The poor pup was terrified. Just yesterday I stepped on my 12 month old cat’s paw. it was her fault! She was following me around and was running in and out from my feet while I was carrying laundry. After making sure she would be okay I loved on her and told her something like, “I bet you won’t do that again baby.”
    Was it REALLY my fault for not watching where I was going? sure… ok it was 50/50 split. However she did not throw the pup down, she did not do this on purpose. The pup … which can be clearly seen… leaped out of her arms. I can say the same has happened to me at the vet. Not proud… not funny. But it happens. There are much worse animal rights crimes out there then this.

    • Praline is an idiot

      You’re an idiot! You stepped on your cat, it’s your fault. I’m sure your cat was fine, but don’t play it off like the cat willing new & understood the dangers of running at your feet. It probably only wanted your attention. As a pet owner you must be more aware. Just like Kathy Lee she had no business picking the puppy up, but then to pass the blame on to the puppy is ridiculous.

      • Suzanne

        Thank you for posting that Praline is an idiot! You were much kinder than I would have been.

  • Jcf

    Kathy Lee is an embarrassment to herself, Frank and the network she works for. Yesterday she went on and on about how Frank had gotten up take a leak and ran into something in his own house.she gave all the gory details how his nail was about torn off there was bold everywhere and she had to clean up the blood as it was all over the carpeting, bath floor, bed ou get the idea. First off why could Frank not make it from his bed to the bathroom? Could there have intoxicating in his blood and caused this. I can find the bathroom even in hotels that I have never been to. Why can’t NBC reign her in. She is an accident waiting to happen and get NBC in screwed big time. Why would they hire her after the crap she did with Regis. Could they not understand why she had been fired. NBC would be better off showing test patterns. They would get more viewers then leaving her and HOBO on the air. Between her story yesterday, Monday October 16, and the one on October 13, 2012. In three days of shows and two major screw ups. What will be here next stunt!!!

  • Suzanne

    I have referred to the Kathy & Hota hour as the “Cackling Hens Hour”. Ugh! But, really…it’s Kathy Lee. Hota is fabulous when she’s with a fill-in co-host!

  • chris

    Sorry, though I don’t like her, I feel like I should defend her. Kathy Lee dropped by the puppy by accident after it scrambled to get away. She was in no way cruel, and in the video seems to be trying to set it down after it starts scrambling to get away. It was the cause of accident. Had it waited a few more seconds, Kathy Lee would have set it down, but instead it scrambled to get away and fell on its head. Notice in the video it comes back up to Kathy Lee. It doesn’t look that hurt to me. The fall probably hurt, but nothing serious. In the video, after the fall, the puppy comes back up to Kathy Lee! If it the puppy was hurt and devasted, why would it come back up to the person that did it? I am an animal lover, and have volunteered at the local humane society, and the thing that irks me are the people that complain over simple sh*t like this. You do realize, that when u make a big deal out of simple stuff like this, it lessens the serious stuff. Like not giving an dog caged up outside not enough food or water, or leaving a car in a parked car with the windows rolled up during the summer. If you equate something that isn’t actual animal abuse or cruelty, such as picking up a puppy to show it affection, and then it scrambles to get away and falls down on its face, then normal people are going to think less of what you preach. Normal people are going to think less of animal rights, because you are preaching something so insane as picking up a puppy and it struggling to get away that u accidently drop it as being wrong. The puppy was clearly not injured. The thing that gets me the most is that had that been Ellen Degeners dropping a puppy by accident, this wouldn’t be an incident. Part of the this whole thing is cuz its Kathy Lee, who a lot of people don’t like. Like I said before, I’ve volunteered at the local animal shelter before, and firmly believe in animal rights, but you animal rights extremists do more damage than good for those of us that are truely trying to help the animals. You make mountains out of molehills over the slightest things, and in return that causes the average joe to associate your bs claims with actual animal neglect/abuse. A person picking up a puppy to show it affection and love, and the puppy scrambing to accidently get away only to fall on its face is not animal abuse or cruelty! Thanks all you a-holes that associate this with actual abuse that ruin things for the rest of us trying to fight against actual abuse and neglect.

    • chris

      sorry, i made a few mistakes in my original posting, such as meaning to say dog in a parked car. Also just wanted to say, to the person that accidently stepped on the cat, don’t feel that bad! I’ve accidently stepped on my cat too, as has my mom… twice. When I say twice, i mean two different cats. Though, i accidently stepped on one cat twice. The thing about cats is they get curious, and forget common sense. Common sense dictates you see someone walking you don’t go under their feet. For the person who says its the owners responsibiliity to look out for the cat…you do realize that would mean looking down where you walk every step you take in your own home. Cats can live for 20 years. Who’s going to want to adopt a pet and have to live with it for 20 years if they are going to completely have to alter their lifestyle and behavior for 20 years. Who’s going to say this kitten is so cute that from now on i will watch every step i take in my own home for the next 20 years?! Let me present you animal extremists with facts…pets were domisticated by man so they would serve him, not so that we would serve them. Sorry to bother you with facts. Pets have the intelligence to not get stepped on; why should it be our jobs to live our lives in a state of continuously watching out to see if a pet is under our feet? Why should our lives be dedicated to watching out for a cat or dog’s stupidity, when in fact most of them know better? The cat that has been stepped on definately knows better, but doesn’t care. My family has never stepped on him on purpose, and have avoided stepping on him numerous times. But in the end, he’s been stepped on more than one occasion, because he continues to try walk under people feet as they walk.

  • Janice Holladay

    Yes, puppies are squirmy little things at times. And, it is an accident. That’s not the point. It’s that Kathy Lee made it about herself and the whole bunch of them made it a joke. I don’t see anyone of those people bending down to check on the puppy when it happens. Dogs often go back to abusive owners, so the comment that the puppy went back to her doesn’t make much sense. It probably was scared and just was seeking comfort from anywhere. And, talking about how the dog smelled funny and her dress smelled bad all day…..really? Cause you didn’t hold him but more than a second and you didn’t even hold him up against you, which of course would have calmed the puppy and enabled her to hold him more securely. I, too, have stepped on my dog’s paw. I’ve even stepped on my older dog’s arthritic paw. Of course sometimes she’s just underfoot. That’s how dogs are and how they interact with each other. They like that close, physical contact a lot of the time. I don’t know whose “fault” it is when I do it, but I’m concerned for the dog first of all. I may get annoyed that they stepped in front of me or something, but my first concern is that they are ok. The question of “fault” doesn’t even have to come into the equation here. It’s not about whose “fault” it is, it’s about who was actually hurt. Kathy Lee and her awful cohorts laugh about it and act as if it’s all about her and her buddy, Hoda or whatever her name is. But, there is little concern for the puppy. And, if they cared about the segment itself, they’d have turned it back to puppy adoption. They’d have said that the puppy was ok. They would not have talked about the dog’s smell. They would have maybe joked about how wiggly puppies can be, but then talked about how wonderful it is to have one in your life. Or, they’d have pointed out that if you can’t handle the energy of a puppy that there are plenty of older, calmer dogs looking for homes as well. (I have one I’m fostering.) They didn’t turn the story back on the need for good homes for dogs, they turned the story on to themselves. Really? What is it? About 2 million dogs and cats are killed every year because there are no homes for them or because there isn’t money to take care of them in shelters and pounds until an appropriate home can be found. We keep breeding new dogs while all these other dogs are just thrown away basically. This is not a light and trivial issue. Yes, I’m one of those dog and critter obsessed people who annoy my FB friends by posting animal after animal that needs a home because I hope to save a life. The point isn’t so much that an accident occurred. The point is that not only Kathy Lee, but the whole cast, made it about themselves. They were supposed to be talking about the animals and their need for homes, and yet they managed to make it about themselves. They could have “spun” it differently. They could have turned the topic back to the need for homes for these dogs, but they took this opportunity to talk about themselves. When those doing the news became more of the story than what they were covering, that’s when journalism became to really decline. Kathy Lee could have even said she was a wreck, but then mentioned she was really worried about the puppy but that he’d been checked out and was fine. She could have then gone on about the puppy or about dogs in general and the need to find them homes. That’s the story they were covering. It was a “fluff” piece for them, but it is a serious issue. “I was a wreck. My dogs are older, and I’d forgotten how squirmy a puppy can be. BTW, they checked him out, and the puppy is fine. There are more energetic little guys like him at…….. or at your local shelter for adoption. Or, if you are a bit clumsy like me, there are some older dogs who are calmer looking for homes as well.” She could have turned the laugh on herself and then turned the focus back to the dogs and the rescue. That’s the best that entire team could come up with to deal with that accident? Geez. Not even very creative.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.berry.739 Cindy Hutschenreuter Berry

      Excellent comment Janice…I think that You are probably a wonderful caring person ….I too love puppies and Kittens and Dogs and Cats and all living creatures….Kathy Lee is a self-centered pain in my butt. I really dislike how she has that holier than though attitude and treats Hoda like an idiot…when the truth be known Hoda is the brains on that show..All KLG does is make out like she is so caring and religious , but she drops a little sweet Puppy and she acted like Cruella Deville….Shame on her and shame on NBC for the way they handled that whole incident …very sad….

  • http://OntheWay Charley

    Kathie Lee Gifford is an IDIOT. Seriously, me, me, me. Every single thing that is said or done, she turns it around and makes it all about her. I love Hoda but KLG is so patronizing and abusive, it is embarressing. When she got this gig I thought she must have some serious blackmail over an NBC exec. Now that they have let her continue when all she does is interrupt, talk over, and make faces…………she’ll do ANYTHING to bring attention to herself and take it off of anybody. i.e. Hoda mentioned a young girl that was helping strangers use her home electricity and wireless during the disaster and KLG snarled, oh everybody is doing that. I cannot believe the number of times she has completely talked over a guest, ridiculous/unprofessional/egocentric.

  • pat duke

    I think it is disgusting to see them drinking on every show what a bad testimony to women. are they
    addicted I stopped watching their show .


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