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Joan Rivers storms out of CNN interview

Last updated 16:11 07/07/2014

Joan Rivers storms out during a CNN interview about her new book and caustic humour.

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Iconic American comedian Joan Rivers has stormed out of an interview with the news channel CNN after accusing her interviewer of taking a hostile line of questioning.

Rivers was being interviewed by journalist Fredericka Whitfield about her new book Diary of a Mad Diva.

Whitfield gently pressed Rivers, who is one of the hosts of the TV program Fashion Police, on the point that her critiques of others on the show were "very mean in some ways".

Joan Rivers ducks out of shot after quitting the CNN interview over 'hostile' questions.

Rivers replied: "It's not mean, it's not mean, it's not mean. I tell the truth. I'm sure I say the same things that all your viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch. These ladies make $US28 million a picture. You really think that Nicki Minaj cares I didn't like her dress?"

The 81-year-old comedian told Whitfield that comedy isn't "personal".

"It's not about them, it's the clothing," she said.

Whitfield then asked about the boundaries of comedy, noting that some of Rivers jokes stray into dangerous territory.

Rivers replied: "Let me tell you, life is very tough. If you can make a joke to make something easier and funny, do it.

"Darling, I don't know what your life has been like, but I have a lot of people who have gone through hell. Winston Churchill said, if you make someone laugh you give them a little vacation."

But Rivers felt the interview took a hostile turn, however, when Whitfield pressed Rivers on the fact that she wears a fur on the cover of her new book, suggesting it would offend animal activists.

Joan Rivers ducks out of shot after quitting the CNN interview over 'hostile' questions.

In truth, Whitfield's tone did not seem intentionally hostile and the TV host struggled to keep the moment light, complimenting Rivers on her popularity and success, and laughing as Rivers vented, assuming the comedian was playing up to the camera.

But Rivers was having none of it.

"This whole interview is becoming a defensive interview," Rivers said, before asking Whitfield if she was wearing leather shoes. "Yes," Whitfield replied. "Then shut up," retorted Rivers.

Whitfield then pointed out that Rivers was an animal rights campaigner. She is also a member of PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"I don't want to hear this nonsense," Rivers said. "You're wearing leather shows. You're eating chicken. You're eating meat. I don't want to hear this nonsense. Come to me with a paper belt, and I'll talk to you."

Rivers has previously defended wearing her furs because they are "old", and pre-date her work campaigning for animal rights.

When Whitfield pressed the issue, Rivers decided she had had enough.

"I'm going," she said. "All you've done is negative. I've made people laugh for 50 years, I am put on Earth to make people laugh. My book is funny. I wear fur that was killed 15 years ago. I work for animal rights."

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She finished with a parting shot: "You are not the one to interview a person who does humour. Sorry."

Whitfield presumed Rivers was joking, and replied with: "Are we serious?"

The interview was pre-taped. CNN broadcast the incomplete segment, and Whitfield addressed the walkout by saying, "I thought she was joking the whole time."

"In the end we wondered was this a stunt?" Whitfield said. "Miss Rivers didn't return to the interview but off-camera she kept her microphone on and she continued to talk and drop some rather unflattering four-letter words. She was serious."

- Sydney Morning Herald


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