Brow Beat

The White House Condemns Full Frontal as “Not Fit for Broadcast” After Samantha Bee’s Crude Ivanka Insult

Samantha Bee stands in front of a graphic of Ivanka Trump's face
Incivility is not the same as racism.
Still taken from the now defunct YouTube video

The White House condemned Full Frontal With Samantha Bee as “not fit for broadcast” as outraged conservatives took to Twitter on Thursday after Bee called Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt.” The Full Frontal host used the insult in a segment about how Trump posted a photo of herself and her son over the weekend amid renewed controversy regarding the administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.

“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 cunt,” she said. The White House responded with a statement, via The Wrap:

“The language used by Samantha Bee last night is vile and vicious. The collective silence by the left and its media allies is appalling. Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast, and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the video had been pulled from Full Frontal’s YouTube channel, but by then, it was already the subject of backlash from prominent conservatives, with some comparing Bee’s comments to Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, which led to the cancelation of Barr’s show earlier this week.

The problem with accusations of a double standard here is that there is no double standard at work, because the two situations, while both unfortunate, are otherwise not comparable. Was Bee calling Ivanka the c-word advisable? No. As insults go, it’s not especially clever, pointed, or even funny, and Bee relies too often on vulgar name-calling for the sake of shock value anyway. And the rest of the micro-segment wasn’t much more sophisticated, with Bee urging Trump to “put on something tight and low cut and tell your father to fucking stop it.” (On Thursday afternoon, Bee issued an apology via TBS “for using an expletive” to describe her.)

But crude remarks like Bee’s—or like Michelle Wolf’s at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner—are not the same as racist ones like Barr’s. And let’s be clear, Barr was given the boot for being racist, not for being uncivil, because if incivility were a fireable offense in ABC’s eyes, they would probably never have rebooted Roseanne to begin with, given her well-documented track record.

In the wake of that cancelation, though, there’s an appetite on the right for liberal celebrities to get their comeuppance to “balance the scales.” Soon after ABC canceled Roseanne, for instance, fans of the show retaliated by calling for Bill Maher to get the ax for comparing Donald Trump to an orangutan. (Notably, those critics fixated on a relatively banal insult Maher lobbed at Trump’s appearance rather than, say, his past use of the n-word.)

Still, some conservatives, determined to perform outrage gymnastics, are contorting themselves into knots trying to equate Bee and Barr.