An Australian comedian, Dave “Hughesy” Hughes, has apologised “for [his] ignorance” after a tweet about US presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The funnyman sparked a backlash after appearing to mock Biden’s stutter, something Biden’s struggled with since he was four years old.
But now Hughes has told that that wasn’t how the tweet was intended, and apologised if anyone interpreted it that way.
Having watched one of Biden’s TV appearance, Hughes initially wrote: “Joe Biden just had a mad struggle stringing sentences together. Is it the autocue?”
Hughes was subsequently accused of “upsetting lots of people unnecessarily”, and being “a bully” toward Biden by some Twitter users.
Others urged Hughes to take time to do more research before tweeting.
Hughes deleted the tweet, and wrote to his followers: “I would NEVER mock someone’s stutter.
“I was commenting on Joe’s struggle to read the autocue. I didn’t think it had anything to do with a stutter. Sorry for my ignorance.”
Despite the backlash from some followers, others jumped to Hughes’ defence and commended him for making an apology.
“When somebody makes an honest mistake, realises it & apologises surely it’s time to move on,” one suggested.
“If you truly want the world to be a better place Hughesy is not your enemy. #IStandByDave.”
Hughes wrote back to the same fan: “Thank you mate. And you were the first to alert me to my mistake. You made an actual phone call. Very old fashioned.”
Hughes later added: “I genuinely didn’t know Biden has always had a speech impediment. Good on him. Thanks for the heads up!”
Former Vice-President Biden has always been open about his speech impediment.
He told CNN in April : “It has nothing to do with your intelligence quotient. It has nothing to do with your intellectual makeup.”
And Biden urged those who don’t struggle with a stutter to better understand the condition: “It is critically important for them not to judge themselves by their speech and not let that define them.”
Biden is up against incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in the race for the White House, with many Americans’ votes still to be counted in a number of crucial swing states.