This will surprise some of you — at least those who complained to me about my endorsement of ABC firing Roseanne Barr — but I could make a case that TBS should have fired Samantha Bee.
That does not, however, mean that what Barr did and what Bee said are analogous. Not even close.
What Bee said on her show, “Full Frontal,” was beyond distasteful. Commenting on a tweet by Ivanka Trump, Bee said, “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child. But let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless c---!”
I’m disgusted by the use of that word in any context. Ivanka Trump is certainly not above criticism — she’s a member of her father’s administration, not just a first daughter — but Bee was absolutely right when, in her first apology, she said her words “crossed a line” and were “inappropriate and inexcusable.”
That this didn’t occur to her before she spoke boggles the mind. As does the fact that TBS let that air, for which company executives have also apologized. (Even though FCC language standards don’t apply to cable television.)
In her second, on-air apology on Wednesday’s edition of “Full Frontal,” Bee pointed out that she’d used that word “on the show many times, hoping to reclaim it.” Repetition doesn’t make it acceptable. And I’m not buying the whole reclamation-project argument. It was used as an insult.
Bee hurt herself and her message. The point she was trying to make — about Donald Trump’s inhumane policy of separating illegal immigrant children from their parents — was completely lost.
She acknowledged that in her second apology: “I hate that this distracted from more important issues.” And then she went on to try to justify what she did, insisting it was just part of her efforts “to do anything to help those kids.”
Better to have left it to the first apology and moved on.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not buying the faux outrage from the White House or Trump’s supporters. This controversy is not really about the word Bee used. Trump has said worse things; we’ve all heard the “Access Hollywood” tapes.
But Bee misused her platform. And if advertisers pull out and ratings drop, she’ll have no one to blame but herself when “Full Frontal” get canceled.
If it had been up to me, I might have fired her. Even though I like Bee and I like her show.
If it had been up to me, I’d certainly like to think that I would have fired Barr as rapidly as ABC did. Bee used an inappropriate word to criticize Ivanka and Donald Trump; Barr’s racist tweet — one of many — grotesquely compared former Valerie Jarrett, a former Barack Obama adviser who is African-American — to an ape. She slurred all African-Americans.
The bigger question is why ABC put the Utah native back on the air in the first place, given her history of such racist outbursts on social media.
It’s a false equivalency for Trump and his supporters to argue that because Barr was fired, Bee should be, too. The situations are not the same. Not even close.
It’s also a false equivalency to say that HBO should fire Bill Maher because he made jokes comparing Trump to an orangutan. Maher didn’t get fired, the argument goes, because he’s a liberal and Barr backs Trump.
No, Maher didn’t get fired, because his joke — dumb as it was — wasn’t racist. It was about the color of Trump’s hair. And about Trump’s racist support of birtherism.
HBO has no advertisers for Maher’s critics to scare off, so he’s seemingly secure. And he’s used the n-word and the anti-gay f-word on his show — both of which could have and should have cost him his job — so he’s not going anywhere.
And, yes, I think Maher should have been fired long ago.