Jenna Bush apologizes for ‘Hidden Fences’ debacle: ‘I am deeply sorry’


The “Hidden Fences” thing blew up on Sunday night. I think Jenna Bush-Hager would have gotten away with an honest mistake if she was the only one who made the mistake. The fact that Michael Keaton doubled-down on it though… it’s problematic. On the Golden Globes red carpet, Jenna was interviewing Pharrell Williams and this happened:

Like, do we think Jenna did it on purpose? No. She was trying to say Hidden Figures, and confused it with Fences, which is one of the “other” films starring black people. But as I said, Michael Keaton made the same mistake, so there’s something (racist) in the water. Still, Jenna wants us to know that she didn’t mean anything by it. She gave an on-air apology on the Today Show on Monday:

“I had an error in the night, which I have to apologize for,” said Bush Hager, who was joined by Al Roker and Natalie Morales on the NBC morning show. “When I was interviewing the incomparable Pharrell, who I adore, I accidentally — in the electricity of the red carpet, which I’ve never done one before — called Hidden Figures ‘Hidden Fences.’ I have seen both movies, thought they were both brilliant. I’ve interviewed casts for both of the movies and if I offended people I am deeply sorry… It was a mistake, because ya’ll know I’m not perfect,” continued Bush Hager, who at this point began to choke up and get teary-eyed. “I am authentic, but a human. And what I didn’t want to do is make anyone lesser than who they are. I apologize to both the cast, to Pharrell but it was a mistake and I hope we can move on.”

Both Roker and Morales swooped in to defend Bush Hager, with Roker blasting the “culture of Twitter and waiting to pounce on people” for what he said is a common mistake for live TV broadcasters.

“We’ve all been in live situations and you make a mistake,” said Roker, adding how he forgot Braveheart when he was interviewing Mel Gibson and called Jessica Biel Jessica Alba during his Sunday interviews. “Honest mistakes happen in live television and this culture of Twitter and waiting to pounce and get on people, it’s got to stop. It’s got to stop somewhere because it’s pretty ridiculous.”

[From THR]

Yeah, we all get mixed up and sometimes it comes out the wrong way and it’s not like she made an error as big as Yahoo Finance did last week. I like her apology too, in that she acknowledged that her mistake might have made someone “feel lesser” but that was not her intention. Still, I think it’s silly to cry over Black Twitter roasting you. Most of the tweets weren’t even directed at Jenna, they were just making jokes that all “black films” are the same. I would be honored to be roasted by Black Twitter!

Meanwhile, Michael Keaton got asked about his exact same flub after the Globes – you can see his reaction here at TMZ. He seemed apologetic at first but then shrugged it off. Sure thing, Bryan Luke George Gosling Cranston Pitt. Sorry, all white guys look the same to me.


Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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91 Responses to “Jenna Bush apologizes for ‘Hidden Fences’ debacle: ‘I am deeply sorry’”

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  1. Jenns says:


    Could Jenna be more dramatic? I see she takes after her father when it comes to nonsense word vomit.

    As for Al Roker, I thought he blanked out talking to Mel because who would want to interview that racist jerk.

  2. Lucretia says:

    “I had an error in the night” makes it sound like she got up to puke.
    Whoops, “y’all” know I’m not perfect? I don’t hear a lot of responsibility taking, which seems to be a national trend. That’s worrisome. Actually, it’s dangerous. Oh, and it’s white privilege.

    And Roker, “this culture of Twitter and waiting to pounce and get on people, it’s got to stop. It’s got to stop somewhere because it’s pretty ridiculous.” Um, yeah. Tell PEOTUS.

    • Jess says:

      She was close to tears if you watch the video of her apology and I think she knows that she fucked up royally.

    • Ace says:

      She slipped up on one word and made a heartfelt apology. You don’t hear a lot of responsibility taking? What crime is it exactly which you think she committed?! And I agree with Al Roker, all this pouncing and instant criticizing has got to stop somewhere. And I include myself in that but am posting here to illustrate the trend.

      • CItyHeat says:

        Exactly. She made an honest mistake. I think all the allegartions of nefarious psychological intent (she must be a raccccciissstt!!!!!) is beyond reprehensible.

      • HookedOnCoffee says:

        Yup. My impression was, he wasn’t taking Black Twitter to task. He was taking the entire social media culture, where people are forever frozen in some 10 second online video or soundbite for a slip of the tongue, then trolled online by thousands/millions of memes and snarky comments.

        10 years ago, you could have a slip of the tongue, and a few people might crack a joke about it. Now, you are forever immortalized as an idiot for an understandable mistake that anyone could do. People make minor mistakes. Especially when they are talking. Especially when they are stressed. Social media culture does have crazy standards and disproportionate punishments.

      • Adele Dazeem says:

        Agreed. Frankly I don’t think she’s intellectual and deep enough for “nefarious psychological intent”, lol. Love that terminology cityheat!

    • nicegirl says:

      she is from texas, i do not think her use of y’all is fake

    • K says:

      Oh lord she made a mistake, she apologized and it was clear she felt terrible for hurting anyone.

      The people involved with the film said they understand and it’s all fine. Seriously she is new to doing this she was excited and mixed up words. Michael Keaton had a prompter so he had no excuse.

      But there is no reason to burn this girl at the stake over an honest mistake that she apologized for.

    • Megan says:

      When someone mistakenly misspeaks and apologizes for it, calling that white privilege undermines the effort to educate Americans about the very real issue of white privilege. This is not about white privledge. This is about sticking an inexperienced journalist on the red carpet and she screwed up.

      • Timbuktu says:

        I think anyone could screw up like that. I mean, the titles do have similarities. It’s not like she mixed up “fences” with “apple”.
        I am more bothered by the discovery that 2 Bushes and 1 McCain spawn are on TV (what, when they ain’t smart enough to be governors, you send them to Hollywood? God forbid any of them should actually get anywhere by merit) than by what she said, and I do think it’s reaching to imply that she said that because she is a racist. It was phonological, not racist.

      • HookedOnCoffee says:

        You raise a good point. I’m not saying that white privilege may not have played a role in why the ‘black films’ were confused…but do we seriously want to make the national dialogue about this? How vapid does the discourse need to be? Let’s talk about the fact that I can easily smile and charm my way out of a traffic ticket, while someone with more melanin might not be able to do that. Let’s talk about how funding public schools with LOCAL taxes ensures that poor kids stay poor…something that disproportionately affects minorities. Let’s talk about how ‘white names’ are favored over ‘ethnic names’ on identical resumes. Oh, no–let’s talk about the stupid Golden Globes. Hollywood clearly needs a reason to live further up its own ass.

        Timbuktu–I don’t actually mind the Bush spawn as much as the McCain spawn. It’s funny, because my opinion of their fathers is the complete opposite.

        At least the Bush twins do have brains and use their privilege for worthy causes (Ana’s Story broke my heart). Meghan McCain is a typical, vacuous, histrionic, overpriveleged symptom of social media culture.

  3. someone says:

    There were a lot of people going after her – it wasn’t just black twitter. Check out the responses on yesterdays post here on Celebitchy. Plenty of people accused her of disrespecting black actors. If it were just funny jokes I think she could take it but the cries of racism hurt.

    I like Jenna. I think she is real and I think she puts the time and effort into her career. Yes she is a little ditsy but she has heart and you can feel her good intentions. Go Jenna!!

    • Timbuktu says:

      I agree with you, but refuse to give her props for “putting the time and effort”. Her career was handed to her because of a famous name, she would have never landed that job on her own merit, the fact that she sort of appreciates it and acts excited about it is hardly something to praise her for – it’s not like she’d going into war zones and risking her lives to bring us cutting edge journalism, exactly, she’s no Anderson Cooper.

      • someone says:

        Yes, she is not in serious journalism but there have been other famous children that haven’t been able to handle the job when given it. Pippa Middleton comes to mind. Not every journalist wants to be Anderson Cooper. Some just want to be Kathy Lee Gifford. And there is a place for that too.

      • Timbuktu says:

        In Russian there is a saying “only a bad soldier doesn’t want to be a general”. I didn’t pick Anderson Cooper because he was the pinnacle of journalism as much as because he is also a celebrity child, but he has actually done a lot of things we would have respected even if he was not famous by association. But since we ran with Anderson Cooper, I think that “only a bad journalist doesn’t want to be an Anderson Cooper”.
        I think that there is nothing wrong with BEING Kathy Lee Gifford necessarily (I can’t recall if I’ve actually ever seen her in action, tbh), but I do think it’s sad when a journalist ASPIRES to be her. Let’s face it, it’s an easy and lazy aspiration: who doesn’t want to interview celebrities in a fancy dress? Beats traveling to the African jungle to write about children soldiers or doing meticulous research in some dark library in order to expose shady business deals.

  4. Bex says:

    Michael Keaton shouldn’t be let off the hook for that screw up either. He only had 5 names to memorise all night plus a flipping autocue, I think he had even less of an excuse.

    • Lady Rain says:

      Good point. I wonder why Jenna is taking most of the heat while Keaton seems to be under the radar on this. He has no excuse since he read from a screen, while Jenna did a live interview where people tend to flub up. Good on her for offering a sincere apology.

  5. Kitten says:

    I still frequently call “House of Lies” “House of Cards” and vice versa. I don’t know…maybe I’m giving her too much credit but to me it seems like it was an honest mistake.

    • detritus says:

      Yesterday, I was talking about the funny show about the party caterers that Rob Riggle was in.
      It was not Rob Riggle, it was Ken Marino.

      I didn’t recognize Winona in Stranger Things, said ‘Oh that pretty lady looks a lot like Winona Ryder’.

      Recently I also mixed up whether Idris or Chiwetel were in what SciFi movies because I couldn’t get the titles straight between the Martian and that Fassy movie where he is an android and Idris is sexy in jumpsuit.

      I consistently mangle names, titles and am often basically face blind.

      What I’m saying is, I feel for Jenna and I would suck at her job. She did need to apologize though, because it is her job to know the difference, and POC have kind of a good reason to be a little prickly about this, so I’m not mad at anyone.

    • Timbuktu says:

      Thank goodness someone who I’ve come to respect for fairness and good judgment agrees with me!

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      Agreed kitten. People need to chill, not only was her first red carpet, but the globes which has movies, miniseries and television. That’s a LOT of names, titles and categories to memorize.

  6. Crox says:

    “Sure thing, Bryan Luke George Gosling Cranston Pitt. Sorry, all white guys look the same to me.”

    Laugh all you want, but I have a hard time separating Gosling from Reynolds. And Pratt from Pine.

    • Kori says:

      Me too. Especially Reynolds and Gosling. Maybe repetition has something to do with it? Ryan Gosling/Reynolds. Fences/Figures (both Fs). Multiple Chrises. Al Roker that night called Jessica Biel Jessica Alba and they had to retake it. I get some actresses mixed up all the time–some are black, some are white, some are hispanic either because there IS a facial resemblance or because the names are the same/similar. And I do it on my own computer or in personal discussions, not on the heat of live TV. But by the same token, I get why this strikes a chord with people as well and am not going to say ‘oh you’re wrong’ or ‘oh that’s silly’. People’s experiences shape their views.

    • Matador says:

      Pratt, Pine, Hemsworth all look the same to me.

    • Timbuktu says:

      Gosling stands out to me both by his looks and his talent. The rest – I agree with you (and I’m white). I also always confuse the Bryce girl (see, can’t even remember her name) and Jessica Chastain – it doesn’t mean I want to show them disrespect.

  7. Jaded says:

    I hate nepotism, hire trained professionals and perhaps mistakes like this wouldn’t be made.

    • Kori says:

      I noted on another post that Al Roker, who has been around tv (live and otherwise) called Jessica Biel Jessica Alba. It happens even to the experienced. And while Jenna was a nepotism hire, she’s been around a few years so she’s not entirely inexperienced–though this was apparently her first time on the live red carpet which is different from taped segments or brief chats on the Today show.

    • CItyHeat says:

      BS. Even so called professional have occasional flubs. But is nepotism involved? Of course.

      Otherwise I wouldn’t know that obnoxious Jaden Smith.

  8. Kori says:

    I think she genuinely did make a mistake and is genuinely sorry. Octavia Spencer and Pharrell have both defended her on their twitter. Octavia Spencer: @JennaBushHager We all make mistakes, hon! Thanks for your apology! #HiddenFigures @TODAYshow. Pharrell: Don’t worry @JennaBushHager!Everyone makes mistakes. Hidden Fences does sound like an intriguing movie though. Just saying… 😂😘❤.

  9. Victoria says:

    BFD. I call Downton Abbey, Downtown Abbey all the time. She made a mistake, and that makes her racist?

  10. hey-ya says:

    …I can easily see her going up to Ryan to say “La La Lion…so great.” …ps Helen looked super stylish as always..

  11. SusanneToo says:

    Colbert’s opening last night & his monologue did a funny bit on “Hidden Fences,” upcoming film for Summer 2017.

  12. Nancy says:

    Give her a break. It’s not like she’s ivanka trump or anything vapid like that.

  13. Mogul says:

    It’s passive-aggressive dib, you will tell me you can remember every tv show and movie that has a majority of white actors representing it but the less than five projects that has a majority of black actors you mess up. I’m schocked that they didn’t throw moonligthed and atlanta in there too, because why not. And when people start making jokes about, you play the victim being chassed by the big black wolves or you act unaffected.

  14. Jenns says:

    I think the issue that people have (regardless of a heartfelt apology or not), is that she and Keaton didn’t just mix together random 2 movies, they mixed together 2 of the few award movies that are about black people. And even if it was a genuine goof and they/she truly feel terrible, it’s still a problem. It is that “all look a like” issue that makes people careless and less concerned, and that’s when these mistakes happen.

    And the Jessica Biel/Alba thing is apples to oranges. Both are/were young attractive B/C list actresses. It’s a last name, not like mixing up 2 black actresses or 2 Latino actors.

    Edited to add, all of these examples of other goofs don’t make sense when compared. Downton Abbey to Downtown? That’s a few letters. That’s laziness/misreading (which we’re all guilty of at some point), not making other cultures/races feel lesser because you couldn’t get a name right.

  15. OhDear says:

    I’m glad she apologized. The issue with her mixup is that there’s an implied “oh, they all look alike” aspect to it. Hidden Figures and Fences were two of very few movies with black leads/predominately black cast about stories relating to the black experience that were nominated. It may have been an honest mistake, but it’s one of those micro-aggressions that non-white people deal with all the time.

    • Jess says:

      To play devils advocate, the word “Figures” and “Fences” are both two syllable words that start with the letter F. If the movie was called “Hidden Equations” and she said “Hidden Fences” instead than I think that would signal more of a micro-aggression.

    • Ace says:

      The word micro-aggression puts my teeth on edge. Particularly in this context where this all seems to be much ado about nothing. Joan Rivers used to routinely mix up actors and projects, and she was considered a red carpet legend. And her aggressions were never micro! #JoanRangers

  16. Lightpurple says:

    I was bothered by the grip she put on Pharrell’s shoulder. He didn’t look comfortable with it either

    • mee says:

      omg yes. she put her hand on everyone’s shoulder as a familiar gesture and i thought, what gives her that right? perhaps the entitlement of a former press’ daughter? that was annoying plus she kept asking everybody if they were going to party or go back to their hotel and eat a pizza. it was like watching a college student interview.

      and on topic, that was an embarrassing gaffe and i thought pharrell was thinking, did she just say…? at least she did apologize unlike michael white male with privilege keaton. her apology seems sincere yet strangely unprofessional/casual.

  17. QQ says:

    There are different things at play here:

    1) She is dramatic and Unqualified for her job, I know this cause I stopped watching the Today Show behind her completely Inane Sugary segments with her own relatives where they would reminisce and cry

    2) This Speaks to a Bias , It wasn’t like they were colluding to make #HiddenFences a Thing but it speaks to the dismissive way in which some white people view Black people/their craft that they could so to speak blend together when we are in fact showing vastly different stories/tone etc

    3) #HiddenFences and #N*ggerNavy to Me speak of things I don’t expect ya’ll to understand, things like the innate brilliance, FUN AND JOY and geniality of black people and the black experience, that happens indefatigably and under any and all circumstances, even as we are getting… say… dismissed, minimized, not lauded ( I see this on Viral dances, church Memes too, and It makes me fall once more in awe or what Black people create out of ANYTHING), Call and Response Culture where it comes from and how to this day Black folk can make anything go Viral

    • Victoria says:

      I have a case of fat fingers when typing, and typically read/edit what I’ve typed before sending. Take a look at your phone and you’ll notice the letter b is right next to the letter n. Should it have been proofread before posting? Absolutely.

    • Abbess Tansy says:

      Yes, yes this exactly. Its the casual dismissal ( for me it was Keaton who bothered me more than Hager) of it. But as I said on a recent thread, Black Twitter manages to rise to the occasion and doesn’t disappoints.

      • Lady Rain says:

        Black Twitter is amazing. When a situation is presented where POC feel marginalized or ignored, Black Twitter reminds us that sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying.

      • MarcelMarcel says:

        I thought the screen grabs on celebitchy yesterday were hilarious (I don’t have twitter so I only see it when it’s featured in other places). I don’t really see this as a great example of online trolling. She’s a public figure who made a mistake in as a professional on live broadcast and the tweets all referred to that one specific mistake. Her appearance wasn’t mercilessly ridiculed, death threats weren’t made and the online content wasn’t at all similar to Trumps twitter statements about other people- that kind commentary is what I consider online bullying.

        Long winded way of saying I agree with you QQ.

        Also I’m white (just felt I should acknowledge my privilege since we are discussing race).

        This uproar over SJWs frustrates me. When I ask people to give me an example of when their behaviour has been censored by political correctness they have none. I think it’s just privileged people feeling uncomfortable because they are used to their perspective being centred in literally every discourse and they don’t want to question their privilege.

    • Hannah says:

      Typical of Jenna- she is an unqualified journalist- that’s why people are calling her out. Jenna is horrendous on Today show- she is so unnatural in front of the camera. She has awful interviewing skills- she interrupts her guests constantly. I want to change the channel every time she comes on. Someone must owe George Bush a favor or she would have been fired long ago.

  18. JenB says:

    I think it was an honest mistake and she feels horrible about it. I cry over everything now myself so I can relate to the tears. I give her a total pass. I think it was her first time doing a red carpet event and I noticed that she seemed to put a grip on most of the celebs she talked too. Probably won’t do that as much if she gets another opportunity.

  19. Apples says:

    I think she made an innocent mistake but I also think she doesn’t give a shit. That overly dramatic apology is something she had to say before the whole thing went out of hand, so she did.
    Why was she interviewing celebs on the red carpet anyway? No personality, no achievements.

  20. KiddVicious says:

    OMG, I missed the Yahoo finance tweet last week. All of that could have been avoided if they had just said “Trump wants a bigly Navy”.

  21. KBeth says:

    Honest mistake. I swear people just look for things to feel outraged about…..

  22. Jenn4037 says:

    I think it would be easier to name those NOT benefitting from nepotism in Hollywood. And I’m not sure how her father’s conservative politics would be an asset in Hollywood?

    People shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all certainly don’t have the magnifying glass constantly.

  23. Anilehcim says:

    I really find this to be a nonissue, especially after watching her tearful apology on the Today Show and seeing how her coworkers, Al and Natalie, consoled her. I watch the Today Show daily where she fills in often and I really do find Jenna to be a genuinely sweet person and believe she meant no harm. People make mistakes and she has apologized repeatedly.

    On another note, I hate the ugliness looming as inauguration day approaches. I feel like racial tensions are at an all-time high as racism is alive and well and feeling bold enough to rear its ugly head. This particular instance was blown out of proportion because of how terrible the climate in this country is right now, and that is a terrible shame. At the same time, this is part of the ugliness of social media. Whether one loves or hates Al Roker, he said something yesterday that I found myself agreeing with–there are millions of people on social media waiting for any slight slip up to pounce and go nuts on someone and as a result, even the smallest mistake gets blown up. Sometimes its great and brings justice to bad people, but other times people are too trigger happy and it creates such unnecessary drama.

  24. perplexed says:

    She looked like she genuinely felt bad.

    I can also see why Twitter would make note of the mistake. There are a lot of people on Twitter, and I don’t think you (general “you”) can expect no one not to notice. I don’t really think social media is at fault for blowing up someone’s mistake — I think that lies more with the mainstream media who repeat ad nauseum what happens on social media. Social media is a platform for regular folks to have a conversation. Responsibility lies with the mainstream media for blowing up the mistake larger than it may have been perceived on Twitter, but that would mean that Al Roker and others might have to recognize that it’s really their peers blowing up the mistakes all over the print and online media.

    Twitter also moves fast, and people will forget about this in a week after Donald Trump has insulted Robert De Niro and George Clooney on Twitter.

    • Goldie says:

      People often complain about the SJWs on social media, but really it’s the mainstream media makes a mountain out of a molehill by blowing these tweets out of proportion.
      An example of this is when Blake Lively made her “Oakland Booty” joke. Hardly anyone was actually offended by it, but the media decided to drum up controversy by claiming that the “black community is outraged”.

      Taking stories from social media is just an easy way to get hits w/out having to do much work. OTOH it is good that journalists do pay attention to social media, because there are a lot of important issues that gain traction there before the mainstream media notices. They just have to be more discerning when it comes to which social media stories they choose to emphasize.

    • Ashamed 2 b a Fl girl says:

      I don’t think he will insult them…they have penises.

  25. lemonbow says:

    Is “Black Twitter” actually a thing? Or do people just mean black people who are on twitter? I find this odd.

  26. Kate says:

    Wiow at the reactions. Jenna cannot do her job properly, people call her out and SHE is somehow the victim, with all the sympathy (seriously look at her twitter feed). I wish I had her life. Yesterday, I was typing too fast one of my translations and wrote “amis” (“friends” in French) instead of “mais” which means “but” in French. My professor realized it probably was a typo but I still lost points. And I did not make myself the victim of all this. Whitefreagility really is something else.
    Oh, and isn’t that funny that nobody confused the Night of and the Night Manager last night ?

  27. sauvage says:

    What I took away from this, more than anything, is how few and far in between “black” films (i.e. films where the majority of cast members are POC) still are. That’s the problem, and that’s what has to change. I believe Ms Bush made an honest mistake. The fact that so few black stories are being told in Hollywood films that they are apparently easily confused, is a problem.

    I also think that speaks volumes that these two titles got confused, but somehow nobody ever mistakes Captain America for Captain Marvel, or Birdman for Batman etc. The fact that people have no problem keeping all the white superheroes apart, but can’t remember the correct titles of two films with a predominantly black cast – is telling to me.

    • Trixie says:

      I don’t think it’s about race, though, but rather popularity. Indie dramas are never as popular as studio blockbusters. Hidden Figures and Fences are two very lesser known movies while Captain America and Batman are billion dollars franchises. So it makes sense that people wouldn’t confuse Captain America or Batman for another property with a similar name. But since Hidden Figures and Fences aren’t as well known, it seems reasonable that people would confuse the names.

  28. Jenn says:

    Sometimes, a mistake is just a mistake and the general public read way too much into it.

  29. sunshine gold says:

    C’mon, there are bigger issues in the world, people. Save your outrage for something that matters.

  30. Trixie says:

    Just reading the names “Hidden Figures” and “Fences” when the nominations came out, without knowing at all what the films were about or who starred in them, I got the names mixed up. I think it could be an honest mistake and have nothing to do with racism. I honestly thought for a while, again without knowing anything about the films, that it was “Fences” and “Hidden Fences” and was surprised that there were two nominated movies with the same word in them. So I think it could be an honest mistake.

  31. Eva says:

    I get her and Sophia Bush mixed up.