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Kelly Ripa continues Clay Aiken attack, denies being "homophobic"

By Reality TV World staff, 11/21/2006 

After having already made it clear that she wasn't happy with Clay Aiken's "disrespectful" guest co-host behavior on Friday's Live with Regis and Kelly broadcast during Monday's broadcast of the daytime talk show, Live co-host Kelly Ripa went even further on Tuesday.

"It was outrageous, it was out of line, it was unprofessional, and he wouldn't have done it to you because there's a respect," Ripa told The View co-host Rosie O'Donnell about an incident in which Aiken put his hand over Ripa's mouth while the pair interviewed Dancing with the Stars 3 winners Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke during Friday's Live broadcast.

Ripa, who was not scheduled to appear on The View, unexpectedly called into the live broadcast to dispute O'Donnell's minutes-earlier comment that she felt that Ripa's initial on-the-fly response to the Friday morning incident -- a joking "I don't know where that hand has been honey" comment -- was "a homophobic remark" (although rumors about Aiken's sexuality have circulated since his participation in American Idol's 2003 second season, Aiken has recently, after several earlier interviews in which he denied that he was gay, recently declined to answer questions about his sexual orientation.)

"Rosie, I love you dearly [but] I have to strongly, strongly disagree, I think what you said is downright outrageous," Ripa, who initially tried to claim that she believed that she was "the only talk show host... who has ever interviewed him who didn't question his sexuality," told O'Donnell.

According to Ripa, her comment was spurred by germaphobia, not homophobia. "I didn't ever ask him a question about his sexuality [and] when Larry King did, when other talk show hosts did, he didn't reach across and cover their mouths," Ripa told O'Donnell and the rest of The View's panelists during what turned into a nearly eleven minute discussion. "He reached across and covered my mouth with his hand and I have three kids [and] he's shaking hands with everyone in the audience -- I mean it's cold and flu season, that's what I meant and to imply that it's anything homophobic is outrageous Rosie and you know better, you should be more responsible."

"I'm sorry it came off that way to you but what I'm saying is I respect all people regardless... it never even occurred to me that would be, and I apologize to you if you felt that way," Ripa told the openly gay O'Donnell.

Later, Ripa also expanded on her Monday Live comments in which she stated that she didn't think Aiken "was respectful in any way" during his Friday co-hosting stint. "The interesting thing is I was not combative or attacking him in any way, I was very warm," Ripa -- who hadn't further addressed the topic on Live's own Tuesday morning broadcast -- told The View. "I treat my co-hosts with respect, I treat everyone with equal dignity and respect -- a dignity and respect that was not shown to me and so I'm sorry, at the end of the day basic manners -- basic decent human decency. The reality is that he never said 'Thank you, this was pleasant' or anything. It was sort of 'I'm going to use opportunity to steamroll over you because I've been bullied so much that now I'm going to bully you.'"

Then, Ripa and The View guest co-host Sherri Shepherd leveled another charge that Ripa had alluded to on Monday's Live at Aiken -- sexism. "No way on Earth [would he have done it]," Ripa replied when Sheppard suggested that Aiken wouldn't have attempted to cover the mouth of Regis Philbin, Ripa's regular Live partner. "Men talk to women crazier than they talk to men," Sheppard charged. "Amen... amen," Ripa shouted back.

However despite all her strong comments, Ripa insisted that, as far as she is concerned, the incident is "water under the bridge." "I am not angry with Clay Aiken -- I took issue, I said what I had to say. It is in the past, I forgive him -- even if he doesn't apologize I forgive him, I don't care."

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