White House Reporter Asks Donald Trump If He’ll Pardon Tiger King’s Joe Exotic

by : Emily Brown on : 09 Apr 2020 08:46

The subject of Joe Exotic has officially taken over the world, so much so that a White House reporter brought it up with Donald Trump as they asked whether the president would pardon the Tiger King star. 

As if the POTUS doesn’t have bigger things to focus on in these tough times.

New York Post reporter Steven Nelson asked the million dollar question during a press conference on Wednesday, April 8, which was intended to be about the ongoing outbreak, not the latest Netflix hit.

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPA

The documentary tells the story of Exotic, real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, and the series of events that led him to be convicted of attempted murder for hire in 2018.

Tiger King has well and truly taken the world by storm and has provided some welcome relief from everything else going on in the world, with people distracting themselves by having epic Joe Exotic themed photoshoots and creating all manner of memes about the target of the murder-for-hire plot, Carole Baskin.

Joe Exotic Tiger KingJoe Exotic Tiger KingNetflix

During the press conference, Nelson decided to take a break from learning Trump’s stance on the outbreak to try and figure out where he stood with regards to Tiger King.

The reporter said:

One of the biggest rating hits of the coronavirus, aside from these briefings, has been a show on Netflix called Tiger King.

The man who’s the star of this is a former zoo owner who is serving a 22-year prison sentence. He’s asking you for a pardon, saying he was unfairly convicted.

Tiger King's Joe Exotic Suing From Prison For $94 MillionTiger King's Joe Exotic Suing From Prison For $94 MillionNetflix

Following the release of the documentary, Exotic launched a lawsuit from prison claiming he was falsely arrested and imprisoned after falling victim to a malicious prosecution and discrimination. He has since requested a new judge take on his case after accusing Judge Scott Palk, who was initially assigned, of being homophobic.

Nelson told Trump his son, Donald Jr., recently ‘jokingly said he was going to advocate’ for the pardon and asked the president whether he’d seen the show and ‘if [he] has any thoughts on pardoning Joe Exotic’.

Trump admitted he knew ‘nothing about it’ and asked the reporter to explain exactly why Exotic was behind bars.


After Nelson detailed the premise of the series, Trump commented:

Do you think he did do it? Are you on his side? Are you recommending a pardon?

As a reporter you’re not allowed to do that. You’d be criticised.

Trump turned to an off-screen reporter, identified as CNN’s Jim Acosta, for his recommendations, though Acosta said he wasn’t going to weigh in on the subject.


All hope is not lost for Exotic though, as Trump continued:

I don’t think you would. I’ll take a look.

Backstreet Boys Reunite To Perform 'I Want It That Way' During QuarantineBackstreet Boys Reunite To Perform 'I Want It That Way' During QuarantinePA Images

Nelson received both praise and criticism for his choice of question, and he has since taken to Twitter to point out that Tiger King wasn’t the only thing he asked about.

He wrote:

I asked President Trump about a pardon request from the star of Netflix’s top rated show after his son weighed in.

But I also asked about WHO… funding and this emerging bipartisan detail that may land in recovery infrastructure bill.

Though I’m relieved to hear Nelson wasn’t more concerned with Trump’s stance on Tiger King than he was with the outbreak, we probably shouldn’t be encouraging the president to sit down and watch a Netflix documentary in the midst of a global issue.

Hopefully ‘taking a look’ into Exotic’s case won’t take up too much of Trump’s time – we all know how much he loves Twitter, and we really don’t need him to get distracted by all the memes.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Film and TV, Carole Baskin, Coronavirus, Donald Trump, Joe Exotic, President, Tiger King


CSPAN/Twitter and 1 other
  1. CSPAN/Twitter


  2. Steven Nelson/Twitter