It has come to this: Will Trump pardon Joe Exotic of ‘Tiger King’?


If Joe Exotic of “Tiger King” is looking for a pardon from President Trump, he’d better get in line. Behind, you know, a global health crisis.

It seems that, perhaps because he is president, Trump has not had time lately to watch the hit Netflix show.

But in a sign that the coronavirus is testing us all, a reporter who apparently had nothing better to ask POTUS posed the random “Tiger King” question at a White House briefing Wednesday, setting off a burst of disbelief on social media from those who were watching on TV.


“One of the biggest rating hits of the coronavirus, other than these briefings, has been a show on Netfix called ‘Tiger King,’” said New York Post reporter Steven Nelson.

“The man who’s the star of this is a former zoo owner who’s serving a 22-year prison sentence. He’s asking you for a pardon, saying he was unfairly convicted. Your son yesterday jokingly said that he was going to advocate for it, and I wondered if you had seen the show and if you have any thoughts on pardoning Joe Exotic.”

“Which son?,” Trump replied, absolutely ignoring the bulk of the question. “It must be Don. I had a feeling it was Don. Is that what he said? I don’t know, I know nothing about it.”

The president then inquired as to what Exotic was in for. As fans of the show know, the man also known as Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage was convicted in federal court of two counts of murder for hire along with myriad charges related to killing some of his tigers. On March 17, Exotic sued the federal government for $94 million, alleging among other things that he was convicted on false and perjured testimony.

Trump proceeded to banter briefly with Nelson and others in the White House press room.

“Do you think he didn’t 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 criticized,” Trump asked the Post reporter. Then he shifted his attention to regular nemesis Jim Acosta of CNN and asked him, “Are you recommending a pardon?”


The co-directors of the wild Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” discuss Joe Exotic, the series’ animal rights message and the reaction from fans.

March 26, 2020

The reporters would not commit to any pardon recommendations, understandably, and Acosta said he was not going to weigh in on “Tiger King.”

“I don’t think you would,” the president said, right before Acosta admitted that yes, he did in fact like Joe Exotic.

Busted! Jim Acosta has watched “Tiger King.”

“I’ll take a look,” Trump joked (?) about granting the pardon.

Then everyone got a grip, and it was back to business as usual. Donald Trump Jr., incidentally, thought the whole thing was hilarious.

And as for those social media comments? They came from both sides of the aisle.

“Still processing the fact that some reporter at the latest ‘presidential coronavirus briefing’ actually asked Trump if he would pardon the guy from Tiger King. This season of The Presidential Apprentice is really awful,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joy Reid.

“Omg whoever just asked Trump about pardoning Joe Exotic is an American hero,” tweeted Greg Price, who does social media for the Daily Caller.


Bette Midler weighed in, too, saying, “During #Trump’s coronavirus presser the other day, some ass asked if he’d consider pardoning Joe Exotic, the Tiger King. Now we’ve got tigers AND a clown, it’s officially a circus.”

And then there was this guy, Siraj Hashmi, who jumped to a bold conclusion.