Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson is being heavily criticized for a bit in which he made fun of GOP congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw for wearing an eye patch.
Crenshaw, who is running for a seat representing Texas's 2nd Congressional District, lost his right eye in 2012 after a bomb exploded during a mission in Afghanistan, his third military deployment.
Despite being told he would probably never see again, Crenshaw regained sight in his left eye and went on two more deployments.
Davidson seemed to be aware of Crenshaw's background during Saturday's Weekend Update segment, in which he gave his "first impressions" of various candidates running in this election cycle.
"This guy is kind of cool, Dan Crenshaw," Davidson said, as an image of Crenshaw wearing an eye patch flashed on the screen.
His co-host, Michael Che, chuckled and said, "Yo, come on."
"Hold on," Davidson replied. "You may be surprised to hear he's a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie."
The audience laughed.
"I'm sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever," Davidson added, shrugging and grinning. "Whatever."
When asked about the matter on Sunday, an NBC representative said the network would not be commenting.
Online, scores of people have expressed anger over the sketch and demanded that Davidson and NBC apologize.
"Getting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country," Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that referenced Davidson's much-publicized recent breakup with singer Ariana Grande.
Eric Trump tweeted that NBC and SNL "should be ashamed of themselves. . . . Thankfully, we have brave men & women like @DanCrenshawTX otherwise gutless cowards like #PeteDavidson wouldn't have a desk to sit behind."
.@NBCSNL should be ashamed of themselves for last night’s show. Thankfully we have brave men & women like @DanCrenshawTX otherwise gutless cowards like #PeteDavidson wouldn’t have a desk to sit behind. Dan - America is 100% with you! Thank you for the service and sacrifice. https://t.co/jtSBKmeyma— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) November 4, 2018
The Texas Republican Party called the bit "utterly abhorrent."
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., another candidate who was mocked in Davidson's sketch, said the jab at Crenshaw was a "disgrace" and indicated that the comedian should be booted from the show.
"What are NBC's standards for firing? PC to insult wounded vets?!?" King demanded, adding: "(Davidson also insulted me. Who cares?!)"
"This is outrageous. It isn't funny at all," wrote Dana Perino, the Fox News contributor and former White House press secretary. Crenshaw, she wrote, "served his country – sacrificed for it – and now is willing to serve again as a Member of Congress (or whatever)."
In a tweet Sunday afternoon, Crenshaw acknowledged the outrage over Davidson's joke.
Good rule in life: I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to be offended. That being said, I hope @nbcsnl recognizes that vets don’t deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes.— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) November 4, 2018
He didn't demand an apology, but he did urge the show's writers not to use injured veterans as "punchlines."
Crenshaw later told TMZ that he didn't necessarily want an apology.
"I want us to get away from this culture where we demand apologies every time someone misspeaks," he said. "I think that would be very healthy for our nation to go in that direction. We don't need to be outwardly outraged. I don't need to demand apologies from them. They can do whatever they want, you know. They are feeling the heat from around the country right now, and that's fine."
He added: "But I would like [Davidson] and 'Saturday Night Live' to recognize something, which is that veterans across the country probably don't feel as though their wounds they received in battle should be the subject of a bad punch line for a bad joke. And here's the real atrocity in all of this: It wasn't even funny . . . It was just mean-spirited."