Michelle Obama: Univision host fired for insulting First Lady

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Univision Fires Rodner Figueroa After Racist Michelle Obama Planet of the Apes Comment


By Tierney McAfee, Hollywood Life

We can't believe our ears. Emmy award-winning talk show host Rodner Figueroa compared Michelle Obama to a character from 'Planet of the Apes' on live television on March 11. So appalling! Thankfully he's already facing the consequences.

Spanish-language TV station Univision fired Rodner Figueroa almost immediately after he made the racially insensitive comment about First Lady Michelle Obama during his entertainment news show El Gordo Y La Flaca. Do you think the network made the right call?

Michelle Obama: Univision Host Fired For Saying First Lady Looks Like An Ape

Rodner, 42, is known for his "biting fashion commentary," according to the UK's Daily Mail, but the talk show host majorly crossed the line when he said Michelle looked like a cast member from Planet of the Apes on air on March 11.

He made the comment while he and his co-hosts were discussing the work of makeup artist Paolo Ballesteros, who uses beauty products to transform himself into female celebrities, including the first lady.

Then out of the blue, Rodner said, "Well, watch out, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she's from the cast of Planet of the Apes, the movie."

His co-hosts reacted quickly. Lili Estefan said, "What are you saying?" and Raul de Molina said Michelle was an attractive woman. Still, Rodner stood by his shocking statement, saying, "But it is true." How dare he?!

Univision made it clear that Rodner's remark would not be tolerated or brushed aside. By the night of March 11, the network had taken Rodner's photo down from its website.

Univision then released a statement the following day, March 12, saying:

Yesterday during the entertainment show El Gordo y La Flaca, Rodner Figueroa made comments about First Lady Michelle Obama that were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect the values or opinions of Univision. As a result, Mr. Figueroa was fired immediately.

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Michelle Obama: Univision host fired for insulting First Lady
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First lady Michelle Obama is applauded before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. Front row, from left are, Nathaniel Pendleton, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, Mrs. Obama, Menchu Sanchez and Jill Biden. Second row, from left are, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Deb Carey, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amanda McMillan, Lt. Brian Murphy and Marie Lopez Rogers. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Washington, DC - January 24: First Lady Michelle Obama waves to acknowledge applause as she joins her guests before President Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress while delivering his State of the Union speech, on January, 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
US First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledges applause pruior to US President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress and the Supreme Court on January 25, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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US First Lady Michelle Obama and US President Barack Obama arrive during an event in the East Room of the White House December 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama and US first lady Michelle Obama attended the event at the White House with the 2012 Kennedy Center Honorees before to celebrate their contribution to the arts before heading to the Kennedy Center for the honors program. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington, DC - December, 4: Guests arrive at the Kennedy Center for tonights honors awards with President Obama in attendance on December, 04, 2011 in Washington, DC. Pictured, First Lady Michelle Obama, right, and President Barack Obama, arrive in the Presidential box and greet the honorees including Yo Yo Ma, second left, and Meryl Streep, left. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at a reception for the recipients of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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First lady Michelle Obama, left, and President Barack Obama wait for the arrival of French President François Hollande for a State Dinner at the North Portico of the White House on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
First Lady Michelle Obama walks away from the Grand Staircase after posing for the official photo with President Barack Obama with French President Francois Hollande as they arrive for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
First lady Michelle Obama, left, and President Barack Obama wait for the arrival of French President François Hollande for a State Dinner at the North Portico of the White House on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
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First lady Michelle Obama, left, and President Barack Obama welcome French President François Hollande for a State Dinner at the North Portico of the White House on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Rodner Figueroa Writes Apology Letter To Michelle Obama

Rodner apologized for his actions by writing an open letter to Michelle Obama on March 12. Here's the full letter:

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,

I offer my sincerest apologies for a comment that I made about the characterization from a make-up artist that I made about you in the Univision entertainment program El Gordo y La Flaca.

I want to make it clear that I'm not racist and it was directed personally to you, but to the characterization of the artist, that left a lot to be desired. The clip in full context is proof.

I feel embarrassed, I ask for forgiveness, because there is no excuse for a professional like me to make those types of comments that can be interpreted as offensive and racist in a volatile moment that we live in our country.

I take responsibility for this lack of judgement in my part, but I can't accept that I am being called a racist and being fired for that reason and being humiliated by Univision after working there for 17 years. I come from a bi-racial Latin family, with family members, like my father, who is Afro-Latino.

I am the first presenter on Hispanic TV that is openly gay and I am an activist for causes that favor minorities, that have been discriminated against just like me. I openly voted twice for your husband Barack Obama, because I consider him a great man that respects minorities, like me, in this country.

I worked on two Univision shows where I commented about celebrity style, including the real family and Latin first ladies and I have never offended anybody because of their skin color, sexual orientation or nationality. I am a decent person, but a human in the end that makes mistakes like this one.

Although the comment was unpleasant and out of line I do not deserved being called a racist and I have to defend myself for respect and love to my family, my father, my fans and my community.

I was notified verbally that due to a complaint from your office I was fired. An information leak from Univision executives, I was condemned in social media, trying to destroy my career in an unfair manner, without letting me know personally and without an investigation that would allow to clear up the situation.

Again, I offer my humble forgiveness for the misinterpretation and I assume the responsibility.

Yours respectfully,

Rodner Figueroa

So what do YOU make of this, HollywoodLifers? Did Rodner deserve to be fired? Were you offended by his comment? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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