Pardon me for being obtuse, America, but I want to make sure I understand this.
Samantha Bee, the comic who called Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” yesterday on her TBS show “Full Frontal,” apologized today, saying on Twitter,
“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.”
No repudiation of her words were forthcoming from TBS, or Turner Broadcasting, which owns that network as well as CNN. [UPDATE: After this was posted, TBS stated that Bee’s words were “vile” and “inappropriate,” and that it was their “mistake” as well as Bee’s.]
Now, Roseanne apologized for her tweet connecting Obama-whisperer Valerie Jarrett to the Planet of the Apes, yet was not only fired, but had her show, and its entire cast and crew, tossed as well. ABC, which did the tossing, explained that her tweet, which was on Roseanne’s personal Twitter account, did not comport with the network’s values. Well, did anyone think for a nanosecond that Roseanne was speaking for ABC with her obviously spontaneous, not-very-well-thought-out slur? Of course not. In contrast, Bee’s line that was “inappropriate and inexcusable” was scripted, vetted by the network, and prerecorded, as well as previewed by network personnel . So it is fair to assume that calling the President’s daughter a ‘feckless cunt” is consistent with the network’s values. Right? Am I missing something?
Now this is confusing to me. Roseanne’s line was obviously intended as a joke, and supposedly comics need to have wide tolerance when jokes misfire. Bee’s statement wasn’t even a joke; it was just a vulgar insult. Moreover, a pre-taped, scripted TV show is obviously a more consequential forum than a single tweet, and a personal tweet is viewed as less of a representation of a network than a show on that network. Correct?
I don’t get it.
Why is Roseanne out of work, along with dozens of innocent people, and Bee, plus the people who enabled her, still has a show?
Then there is MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who was revealed to have written homophobic comments on her now-defunct blog, made a risible claim that she was hacked, and then was exposed as lying to her audience. Is lying and homophobia consistent with the values of MSNBC and NBC, neither of which have admonished Reid? They must be, no?
And what is the hierarchy here? I always regarded cunt and twat (I see no difference, civility-wise) as just as offensive when applied to women as nigger is when used to describe an African-American. Is this a mistaken assumption? I was raised wrongly, then? Or is misogyny, as well as homophobia, lower on the intolerable scale than racism? They must be, come to think of it, because Bill Maher faced no discipline (and never apologized) when he referred, more than once, to Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann as twats and cunts.
Or was HBO tacitly telling us that misogyny comports with that network’s values? CBS, you may recall, allowed Stephen Colbert to call the President of the United States a “cockholster.” So to recap:
- A male comic can call the President a cockholster—which is an anti-gay slur-–on a general audience network show without consequences, and
- …a female comic can call the President’s daughter a cunt on a general cable show without consequences as long as she apologizes, and
- …a male comic can call Republican women who aren’t his daughters cunts on premium cable without apologizing or being disciplined, and
- ….a black female pundit can make derogatory statements about gay men on a blog and lie about it without being burdened by any adverse action, BUT
- …a female comic who uses social media to link a black female Democrat to The Planet of the Apes, does not lie, and does apologize, not only is immediately fired, but so is everyone on her show.
So far what I discern is that racism, real or perceived, is the worst thing in existence, and thus harming over a hundred people to signal to the world that you just won’t stand for even a racist, withdrawn, regretted tweet like Roseanne’s is considered fair and reasonable. Got it. As for the rest, I am confused. Would Bee keep her job if she called Valerie Jarrett a cunt? Would Colbert have gotten away with calling, say, Anderson Cooper a cockholster? Or Barack Obama?
Could Bill Maher call Nancy Pelosi a cunt and keep his HBO show? How about Elizabeth Warren? Pocacuntas?
In case anyone cares, my position is that media commentators and entertainers who use derogatory, denigrating, uncivil, obscene and vulgar terms like cunt, twat and cockholster to attack named public figures should be regarded as exactly as unfit for employment on television as a comic who uses racist imagery to insult a public figure, and it shouldn’t matter what the venue is, what race or gender the offenders or targets are, or what political persuasion the victims adhere to. That rule seems fair and clear, and simple to enforce.
Whatever rule or principle the networks are following, however, is a still a mystery.