Samantha Bee's late-night TBS program is not a novel one. She summarizes a left-of-MSNBC version of events to a receptive audience, delivering rapid-fire one-liners and progressive protestations, all supplemented by news clips to give her routines a feeling of high-minded, informative satire. Other such shows exist, in case you haven't noticed.
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Now she's called Ivanka Trump a "feckless c—t."
Once the remarks did the rounds on the old Internet, Bee faced a strong media backlash, one that conservative media figures, such as myself, thought unlikely to occur.
CNN's John King called the statement "vile" and "reprehensible," adding "some things aren't funny."
CNN anchor Poppy Harlow said Bee had gone "way over the line," and CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy said it was "really disgusting." CNN host Brooke Baldwin said Bee's remarks made her no better than the objects of her criticism, calling it "beneath where we should be as a society."
I thought only conservative media would care about this, but here's a CNN segment on @FullFrontalSamB crude remark about @IvankaTrump. "Way over the line," "really disgusting." pic.twitter.com/FWTe4ogUoC
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) May 31, 2018
On MSNBC, "Me Too" movement founder Tarana Burke said Bee shouldn't use such a word, and NBC's Megyn Kelly condemned the word as hateful and "jarring." For its part, the White House said in a statement Bee's comment was "vile and vicious."
Despite Kathy Griffin's protests, Bee tweeted a fulsome apology, and TBS also released a statement expressing regret over the airing of her statement.
I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.
— Samantha Bee (@iamsambee) May 31, 2018
This has been the most severe reaction to a Resistance Late Night Comic in the Trump era, and it was to the only woman! Bee has to be a bit gobsmacked that in a world where Bill Maher has mimicked Ivanka Trump doing a sexual act on her father, Stephen Colbert has called Trump a "c—k holster" for Vladimir Putin, and Seth Meyers has flipped off the president, she got busted for one word.
I say one word, because Bee followed up with something perhaps even more gratuitous: urging Ivanka to put on something "low-cut" to convince her father to change his immigration policy, implying an incestuous relationship between the two.
That's all fine, apparently, but just don't use the "C word."
This brief controversy is a telling window into the world of comedy in the Donald Trump era. This was a taped, scripted segment, and the most feminist late-night show on TV called a White House senior adviser and mother the worst thing you can call a woman.
How did the crowd react? Cheers and applause, just like Bee intended.
Bee was just trying to give her audience what they want, and it isn't comedy. It's righteous anger, "owning the cons," a half-hour of rage, because that gets the website recaps and the shares and the "THIS" tweets. The creative class is furious about Trump, and his presidency is no laughing matter in these dark, dark times.
Consider this: The YouTube channel for "Full Frontal" posted just that final 50-second segment containing her Ivanka rant as its own video Wednesday night. It's now deleted, but the show clearly thought it was a winner until the backlash began.
Of course, Bee will be right back at it next week, just with less salty language.
As for the backlash to her remarks, I suspect media figures were extra-sensitive to getting busted for the dreaded double standard attack, given the swift blowback to Roseanne Barr's racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett.
Bee should remember comedy is all about timing.