UK

Fox News Denies It Thinks Domestic Abuse Is Funny After Joking About Ray Rice Assault

09/09/2014 16:31 BST | Updated 09/09/2014 16:59 BST

Fox News has denied it finds domestic abuse funny after facing a furious backlash for cracking jokes live on air about a now-suspended NFL player violently attacking his wife.

The world reacted with horror after shocking footage showed Ray Rice punching his partner Janay in the face, knocking her unconscious, spitting at her and dragging her out of the lift in newly released CCTV footage.

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But the host of Fox News' 'Fox & Friends', Brian Kilmeade, offered some advice to the battered woman.

"The message is, take the stairs!" Kilmeade quipped as his co-anchors chortled alongside him.

Doocy added: "The message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera."

As The Huffington Post US pointed out, "Fox & Friends" is well known for a lack of tact at the best of times.

But on Tuesday, Kilmeade told viewers that the show took these issues very seriously — so seriously, in fact, that he spent all of 13 seconds focusing on what could be loosely termed an "apology".

“Comments that were made during this story made some feel like we are taking the situation too lightly," he said. "We are not, we were not. Domestic abuse is a very serious issue to us, I can assure you," he said.

Nevertheless, many took to Twitter to voice their outrage at the media network's flippant attitude towards domestic abuse.

Rice, meanwhile, has been promptly dismissed by his team, the Baltimore Ravens, after the security camera footage was leaked by TMZ.

The disturbing footage even prompted an official response from the White House who condemned domestic violence as "not something a real man does."

"The President is the father of two daughters," it states. "And like any American, he believes that domestic violence is contemptible and unacceptable in a civilised society.

"Hitting a woman is not something a real man does, and that's true whether or not an act of violence happens in the public eye, or, far too often, behind closed doors.

"Stopping domestic violence is something that's bigger than football – and all of us have a responsibility to put a stop to it."

The Huffington Post UK's Lifestyle team spoke to Women's Aid about the dangers of making light about abuse.

READ MORE: Why Domestic Abuse Is No Laughing Matter

"Joking about domestic violence trivialises it, and allows abusive men to feel that their behaviour is accepted by society," Polly Neate, Women's Aid chief executive told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "It sends a message to abused women that domestic violence is not taken seriously, and reduces the likelihood of them telling anyone or seeking help.”

She adds: "Many people do not understand how difficult it can be to leave an abusive relationship, when your self-esteem has been shattered and you are scared of your partner. People can judge women in abusive relationships without understanding the issues or level of danger involved in her trying to leave. One of the reasons women do not tell anyone they are being abused is because they don't think people will understand or will judge her."