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Wendy Williams sparks backlash for 'demeaning' segment on TikTok star's death

Williams is being slammed for comments she made about the murder of 19-year-old Matima "Swavy" Miller.
/ Source: TODAY

Wendy Williams is under fire for making insensitive comments about the murder of TikTok star Matima "Swavy" Miller.

Williams is being slammed for remarks she made Wednesday about Miller, who died of a fatal gunshot wound two days before. The comments, which came during the "Hot Topics" segment of "The Wendy Williams Show," found the controversial talk show host, 56, joking about how she'd never heard of Miller before this week.

"I have no idea who this person is ... neither does one person in this building,” Williams said as Miller's photo appeared on a screen behind her. She then asked audience members to clap if they know who Miller was. (Watch the segment, which begins at the 12:58 mark in the You Tube video below.)

"Well, he's a TikTok star. He's got more followers than me," Williams said of the late internet celebrity, who regularly posted videos of himself dancing and doing comedy sketches with his nearly 3 million followers.

After going back and forth with producer Norman Baker about her own popularity on Instagram, Williams turned back to look Miller's photo up and down, prompting audience members to laugh.

Then, more than a minute into the segment, Williams finally announced the news that Miller had been killed. "He's 19 and he was murdered Monday morning," she said, as audience members gasped.

Williams appeared confused about the details of the story, repeatedly asking Baker if Miller was the person who died.

"Swavy's dead," confirmed the producer.

"All those followers," Williams responded.

Wendy Williams on Aug. 16, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.Paras Griffin / Getty Images

After the segment aired, outraged viewers voiced their anger on social media.

"This actually made me sick how disrespectful she was to the deceased, regardless of his age or how he died. It’s called being respectful. Such a demeaning and belittling attitude on her part," one viewer wrote on YouTube. "The fact that she’s 50+ talking about a deceased 19 year old that way, (someone’s child) is just the icing on the cake. Wendy do better!"

Another wrote, "You really used this young man's death as a laughable moment..."

TODAY reached out to a representative for "The Wendy Williams Show" who declined to comment.

A Twitter user named Alex shared a clip of part of the segment on Wednesday. "Y’all please watch this," he wrote adding a sad emoji. That clip has more than 5 million views.

Other Twitter users responded by blasting Williams for her insensitivity.

"Did she really need to look him up and down like that before breaking the news that he was murdered? Like she’s the only one who knew where this was going and she still chose to sprinkle a little nasty on it first," one user remarked.

"The pain she must be in to treat people like this," observed another.

Still others on Twitter suggested that Williams, who's been called out for her insensitivity repeatedly in the past, should no longer be on the air.

"It is HIGH time for Wendy to be done. She’s wild," one tweeted.

While another person noted, "I really question the kind of people that be in the audience of her show."