The media double standard reached fever pitch on Wednesday when comedian Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a “feckless c–t” for posting a photo of her toddler son to social media. This came just two days after Rosanne Barr was fired from her hit TV show for tweeting “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” in reference to former White House employee Valerie Jarrett. Barr apologized and said she’d been taking Ambien at the time of the tweets.
While calling a white woman a “feckless c–t” doesn’t have the same racial charge as comparing a black woman to an ape, it was plenty ugly and absolutely uncalled for, particularly as it was in reference to a photo of Ivanka and her toddler.
During her rant on her very liberal TBS show, “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” Bee also suggested Ivanka dress provocatively to urge her father to fix separations of illegal immigrant children from their parents. The language and suggestivity Bee used was beyond the pale. This wasn’t her personal Twitter account, this was a scripted, pre-recorded weekly show, implying that the comments were not only written, but rehearsed and approved by an entire creative team and TBS.
Bee and TBS have since issued apologies via Twitter for the comments, yet offered no excuse of taking too many sleep aids while writing the jokes.
Barr’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and ABC was absolutely right to sever ties with her over her awful comments. Yet why aren’t television executives considering the same consequences for Bee? True, referring to a woman as a “c–t” isn’t racist, but it is plenty hateful. To dismiss this as her creative right is to truly embrace that we live in a time of a media double standard. Imagine if a conservative host referred on-air to a member of the Obama family as a “c–t” for posting a happy family photo.
What truly needs to be in place is a singular standard for all media. Left, right, comedy, or not, we should all be held to the same standard. If Rosanne can’t make an ugly slur about Jarrett, then Bee shouldn’t get away with making an equally hateful comment about Ivanka. That would be the one standard to rule them all.
The undeniable double standard that exists, and has existed for a long time, is a key factor in Donald Trump’s electoral wins. People who dare speak passionately about their conservative politics are flamed for being hateful, racist, or worse, and finally they had a candidate who said exactly what he felt like, pandered to no one, and made no apologies. As long as the hypocrisy continues, more Trumpiness will ensue.
All indications are that it will continue, however. This very week, Bee received an award from The Television Academy, which recognized “Full Frontal” among others as “outstanding programs that have leveraged the dynamic power of television to inspire social change.” The awards presentation took place the day after her inflammatory comments about Ivanka Trump aired, and was merely closed to media attendance after the Bee incident blew up.
Bee will not lose her job. Her show will air at its normal time next week, and her liberal followers will still support her. At the same time, Barr is begging for followers on Twitter, and for a chance to apologize in person to anyone she has ever offended, knowing fully that her career is forever over.
Yes, Bee and TBS apologized, but expecting that the normal rage-tweeting feminists would be overwhelmingly supportive and this would all blow over. “Full Frontal” Executive Producer Miles Kahn was even bragging about the comments on Twitter, saying “So. ‘Feckless C—’ seems to be trending,” and “So. anything in the news?” As of evening Thursday, Kahn’s tweets have not been deleted, and he has issued no apology. Bee and her network’s apology arrived mid-day, after critics had compared her remarks to those of Barr’s.
How anyone can still be blind to the egregious double standard that Barr and Bee are being held to is incomprehensible. Both sets of comments were hateful, ugly, and wrong, yet Bee is literally getting an award for inspiring social change the day after she publicly called the president’s daughter one of the ugliest slurs available in the English language. Whereas Barr used a racist trope, Bee used a blatantly misogynistic one. Both chose to target, attack, and dehumanize someone entirely because of that person’s political beliefs. Yet Bee is being held up as hero by the very same people who demanded Rosanne’s termination.
Simply put, if saying unsavory things about a person with a particular political affiliation gets someone fired, then the same should be true in reverse. Of course, if we could actually hold every person in the media to an equal standard, frying someone over a belligerent comment would soon leave us in a very vanilla world where few would feel safe or comfortable exercising their right to speak freely.
Better would be if we could all subscribe to one standard that could more easily be defined as, “If you don’t like something, just don’t watch, read, or listen to it.” The benefit of having one standard is similar to the benefit of the Cold War doctrine of “mutually assured destruction”: both sides eventually learn that going nuclear is a bad deal for everyone.