Jay Leno has issued an apology for jokes targeting Asian communities over the years. The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) has been campaigning for 15 years to get the late-night talk show host to acknowledge his past remarks.

As recently as last year, Leno still made a crack about Koreans eating dog meat, a comment that offended several players while filming America’s Got Talent. It’s not the first time Leno has played into the specific stereotype. “At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno stated in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”

Leno continued: “At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”

The comedian acknowledged that he doesn't consider himself to be unfairly “cancelled,” but rather that his actions deserve to be atoned for. “I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part,” said Leno. “MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”

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