Late-night host Samantha Bee, who has been embroiled in controversy ever since she referred to Ivanka Trump as "a feckless c*nt" last week, began Wednesday night's episode of her TBS show "Full Frontal" with an apology.
"It is a word that I have used many times on the show, trying to reclaim it," the comedian said. "This time, I used it as an insult. I crossed the line, I regret it and I do apologize for that."
The problem with her word choice, Bee said, was this: "Many women have heard that word at the worst moments of their lives."
"A lot of them don't want that word reclaimed. They want it gone, and I don't blame them," she explained. "I don't want to inflict more pain on them."
But there was one person Bee to whom Bee refused to apologize. The late-night host added that, while she wants her series to be "challenging" and "honest," she "never intended it to hurt anyone, except Ted Cruz."
"Many men were also offended by my use of the word. I do not care," she continued. "I should’ve known that a potty-mouthed insult would be inherently more interesting to them than a juvenile immigration policy."
Bee had initially called Trump the slur during a segment on immigration policy, and Wednesday night following her apology, she returned to the issue by covering the detention facilities where the Trump administration is housing immigrant children who have been separated from their parents.
"I would do anything to help those kids," she said. "I hate that this distracted from them, so to them, I am also sorry."
Bee also cautioned that, if we, as a society, are so "worried about the death of civility," then we are missing the point.
"I'm really sorry that I said that word, but you know what? Civility is just nice words," she said. "Maybe we should all worry a little bit more about the niceness of our actions."
This was Bee's third apology for her vulgar word choice. The comedian apologized briefly on Twitter the day after the controversial episode aired, acknowledging that the word was "inappropriate and inexcusable" and that she had "crossed a line."
"I deeply regret it," she added.
Later that day, while being honored at the TV Academy, Bee addressed the controversy head on in a speech that was closed to the press. There, she echoed her remorse, but also raised pointed questions about examining our priorities as a nation. IndieWire obtained a copy of the speech.
"We spent the day wrestling with the repercussions of one bad word, when we all should have spent the day incensed that, as a nation, we are wrenching children from their parents and treating people legally seeking asylum as criminals," Bee said. "If we are OK with that, then really, who are we?"
Bee's use of the expletive came shortly after Roseanne Barr's racist tweet, which resulted in the cancellation of her hit ABC show "Roseanne." And the right-wing outrage levied against Bee and TBS was substantial. Conservatives– the White House included – demanded that TBS fire Bee. Predictably, when TBS did follow suit, there were cries of a double standard.
To be clear, this is not a double standard. Could Bee have chosen a different word to hurl at Trump? Yes, there are many alternative words she could have used that are not seeped in misogyny.
Bee called out Trump for her complicity as a member of her father's anti-immigrant administration, which is inflicting real harm to families. The comedian purposely hurled a word that is typically used to diminish women at a woman who claims to stand up for her peers yet has been silent as the federal government rips children away from their parents (and has even attempted to bar young immigrant women from having abortions).
The power dynamics are not only drastically different — besides Ivanka Trump's obvious political power, insults against women are most dangerous when said by men (as insults about race are most harmful when said by white people or insults about sexual orientation when uttered by straight people) — but so is the historical context behind the words.
The racist descriptors Barr used derive from a deep-rooted history of intolerance, remnants of which – housing discrimination, mass incarceration andredlining to name a few – continue to exist today.
"That context matters, as does the fact that the Trump administration is using the power it so gained to inflict real-world racist and misogynistic harm on human beings,"That means that Barr’s utterance mirrored and reinforced abuses being enacted by more powerful people against less powerful people, while Bee’s challenged those abuses."
Nevertheless, Bee is being held accountable. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "network management will have more scrutiny over Bee's show," revoking what had been virtually full creative control.
"The plan is for management to work with the show to prevent another incident that could potentially scare advertisers and draw condemnation from both sides of the political aisle," THR wrote.
Jezebel compared the network's oversight of Bee to babysitting. And it's disappointing, though perhaps an unsurprising move.
Throughout this administration's tenure, conservatives have repeatedly demanded that comedians, especially female ones, be held to a higher standard than a president who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct. If anything, there was a clear double standard demonstrated by those on the right who clutched their pearls at Bee's use of the word "c**t," but remained silent when it was revealed that the president bragged about grabbing women by "the p*ssy."