This came as a shock to the morning show’s anchors, who eventually apologized after being instructed to do so by co-anchors Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie, per TheWrap. The clip has made its rounds online, with many viewing it as one of David’s usually bold comedic bits. Elmo had made an appearance alongside his father Louie in light of a tweet of his that inspired an outpouring of emotional responses from fans, which ultimately highlighted the importance of checking in on others.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wheaton shared a lengthy and emotional response to the attack on Facebook seemingly two days later, noting that he put off watching it because he “knew it would upset [him].”
“Holy shit it’s even worse than I thought,” he wrote. “What the fuck is wrong with that guy? Elmo is, like, the best friend to multiple generations of children. In the Sesame Street universe, ELMO IS A CHILD, who is currently putting mental health and caring for others in the spotlight.”
After calling David a “stupid, self-centered, tone deaf asshole,” the Stand by Me star shed some light on trauma from his childhood, likening David’s triggering attack to how his father treated him as a child.
“Full disclosure: all the time, when I was growing up, my dad would grab me by the shoulders and shake me while he screamed in my face,” he shared. “He choked me more than once. He was always out of control, always in a furious rage, and always terrifying. I’m a 51-year-old man and my heart is pounding right now, recalling how I felt when I was a little boy who loved Grover the way today’s kids love Elmo.”
With this in mind, he highlighted that David’s “appalling, unforgivable, despicable act hits more than one raw nerve” for him.
“Larry David, this was not okay, and your obviously insincere ‘apology’ clearly communicates that you don’t get that,” he continued. “First of all, you aren’t even in the segment, but you just decided to barge in and draw focus because… why? You couldn’t stand that your appearance on national television to promote your wildly successful series was delayed for a few seconds while the adults talked about mental health? You wanted to manufacture a viral moment where everyone gets to see what an asshole you are, so they’ll tune in and watch you portray an asshole in the last season of your show that celebrates how great it is to be an asshole without ever experiencing the consequences of being an asshole?”
Wheaton delved into the purpose of Elmo and Louie’s appearance, which was “to talk about empathy, love, kindness, and caring for each other,” while he claimed David’s appearance was “to promote the final (thank god, maybe he’ll go away now) season of a television series.” He also brought attention to the fact that “kids who also watch Sesame Street” are likely tuning into The Today Show with their parents, adding that “Elmo is an avatar for children all over the world.”
“Children who are too small to understand Elmo is a puppet will know that a man attacked someone they love for no reason, and that will frighten and confuse them,” he penned.
“And shitty idiot Larry David couldn’t leave it alone, for some reason,” he added. “He had to indirectly tell everyone that opened their hearts to a Muppet that they were stupid, and he thought it was a good joke to physically attack and choke this character who is beloved by children and adults alike. You know what that tells impressionable young adults about sharing their feelings?”
He eventually concluded, “A man who would belittle and mock that isn’t much of a man at all. Shame on you, Larry David.”
Wheaton has been vocal about his upbringing, telling Yahoo Entertainment in 2021 that “a combination of an incredible emotional abuse from [his] father and a lot of manipulation, using [him], from [his] mother” even inspired his portrayal of Gordie in Stand by Me, per Entertainment Weekly.
Those who have seen Wheaton’s reaction have shared their thoughts online. Many have shown their support for the actor, lauding him for “his openness” and clapping back at those “mocking him for being open about his PTSD.” However, he has also received flak from critics, deeming his comments “the cringiest thing imaginable” and arguing that he “got assmad about Larrry David beating up a puppet.”