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Jimmy Kimmel apology for 'gay insult' on Sean Hannity tweet

Kimmel Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kimmel has apologised for the sexually suggestive tweet

Late-night TV comedian Jimmy Kimmel has apologised for a tweet that some considered homophobic as he feuded with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

"I most certainly did not intend to belittle or upset members of the gay community," Kimmel wrote in a statement on Sunday after a week-long spat.

The dispute began when Hannity criticised Kimmel for mocking First Lady Melania Trump's accent.

The two then quarrelled on Twitter and on television for days.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kimmel has hosted Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on his show

During his programme, Hannity slammed the host of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! after Kimmel joked about Mrs Trump's reading of a children's book during Easter celebrations at the White House.

Hannity called him a "despicable disgrace" and an "ass clown" and insulted his previous programme on the Comedy Central network, The Man Show.

Kimmel responded using similar language, telling the host of Hannity: "If I'm an ass clown... you are the whole ass circus".

The spat continued on Twitter, where in one sexually suggestive tweet on Friday, Kimmel mocked Hannity's devotion to US President Donald Trump.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hannity (left) taped a segment with ex-White House spokesman Sean Spicer shortly after Trump took office

He immediately faced a backlash online by people who viewed the tweet as "a derogatory gay insult".

On Sunday, he apologised in a tweet directed at the Fox News primetime host.

"While I admit I did have fun with our back and forth, after some thought, I realise that the level of vitriol from all sides (mine and me included) does nothing good for anyone and, in fact, is harmful to our country," Kimmel wrote.

He also added: "I will take Sean Hannity at his word that he was genuinely offended by what I believe and still believe to be a harmless and silly aside referencing our First Lady's accent.

"Mrs Trump almost certainly has enough to worry about without being used as a prop to increase TV ratings."

Hannity responded on Sunday night by teasing his Monday night programme.

"Just had this pop up," he tweeted, sharing an image of a news alert about Kimmel's statement.

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