Samantha Bee opened her show Wednesday night by apologizing for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” on the show last week. The apology was a limited one, focusing on Bee’s choice of words rather than the propriety of insulting Ivanka Trump:
“I want this show to be challenging and I want it to be honest, but I never intended it to hurt anyone except Ted Cruz,” Bee said. The host also apologized directly to the children on the wrong end of the United States’ immigration policies, because her accidental contribution to what she called “the nightmare of 24-hour news cycles that we’re all white-knuckling through” was a distraction from the serious issues they are facing.
Bee’s apology was inevitable for pragmatic reasons as much as anything: The insult led to a firestorm of real and faux outrage that buried the point she had been trying to make about the Trump administration’s immigration policies. But as news-cycle-mandated-apologies go, this one is pretty good, both for the sincere regret it acknowledges and for the insincere regret it doesn’t acknowledge. Bee is very aware of the chutzpah it takes for a supporter of Donald Trump to pretend to be offended by bad words, and ended her apology with a reminder that pursuing civility for the sake of civility was a waste of everyone’s time:
I’m really sorry that I said that word, but you know what? Civility is just nice words. Maybe we should all worry a little bit more about the niceness of our actions.
Well, that should settle everything down! Speaking of profanity on television, Bee followed with a segment about Jeff Merkley’s visit to a “child detention facility.”
Update, 11:40 p.m.: Here are Bee’s complete comments:
Hi, I’m Samatha Bee. You know, a lot of people were offended and angry that I used an epithet to describe the president’s daughter and advisor last week. It is a word I have used on the show many times, hoping to reclaim it. This time, I used it as an insult. I crossed the line, I regret it, and I do apologize for that.
The problem is that 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. I don’t want to inflict more pain on them. I want this show to be challenging and I want it to be honest, but I never intended it to hurt anyone except Ted Cruz.
Many men were also offended by my use of the word. I do not care about that.
I hate that this distracted from more important issues. I hate that I did something to contribute to the nightmare of 24-hour news cycles that we’re all white-knuckling through. I should have known that a potty-mouthed insult would be inherently more interesting to them than juvenile immigration policy. I would do anything to help those kids. I hate that this distracted from them, so to them, I am also sorry.
And look, if you are worried about the death of civility, don’t sweat it. I’m a comedian. People who hone their voices in basement bars while yelling back at drunk hecklers are definitely not paragons of civility. I am—I’m really sorry that I said that word, but you know what? Civility is just nice words. Maybe we should all worry a little bit more about the niceness of our actions. Okay, thanks for listening.