After declining media requests for comment about his controversial remarks at the National Book Awards gala, Daniel Handler posted a modest apology on Twitter around noon on Thursday: “My job at last night’s National Book Awards #NBAwards was to shine a light on tremendous writers, including Jacqueline Woodson…and not to overshadow their achievements with my own ill-conceived attempts at humor. I clearly failed, and I’m sorry.”
By early Friday morning Handler expanded that to a bigger admission: “My remarks on Wednesday night at #NBAwards were monstrously inappropriate and yes, racist.” He added, “It would be heartbreaking for the #NBAwards conversation to focus on my behavior instead of great books. So can we do this?” Handler pledged a minimum gift of $10,000 to the Indie GoGo Campaign for #WeNeedDiverseBooks, and said he will match contributions over the next 24 hours up to $100,000. (“I’m in for $10,000, and matching your money for 24 hours up to $100,000.”) Within the first couple of hours, that pledge drew over $10,000 in individual donations towards the matching goal.
Later Friday morning, the National Book Foundation posted their own apology, and denouncement of Handler’s words: “On Wednesday evening, November 19, 2014, at the National Book Awards comments were made by the master of ceremonies which were entirely inappropriate, were not authorized by the National Book Foundation and which do not in any way represent the views of this organization. We regret the incident and apologize to all offended by the remarks, especially Jacqueline Woodson.”