The Real Apology Samantha Bee Could Have Given

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Posted: Jun 08, 2018 4:01 PM
The Real Apology Samantha Bee Could Have Given

Yesterday, I wrote a post that was sharply critical of the obnoxious, preening, incomplete quasi-apology comedian Samantha Bee issued on her show this week.  As I noted, she failed to specifically apologize to the woman she called the C-word on national television, in a planned and scripted insult.  She also partially blamed the media and informed her audience that she doesn't care if any men were offended by what she said.  It felt like a bare minimum of bare minimums -- a command performance of feigned regret with a generous sprinkling of edgy defiance.  It wasn't a good look.  I repeated much of my negative assessment on the air last night on Benson & Harf.  

Prior to the show, my co-host Marie Harf wondered if I would have been satisfied with anything Bee could have said.  The answer, I responded, was that while I believe Bee should have been suspended and publicly reprimanded -- not fired -- yes, she could have executed an apology that would have been significantly more satisfactory than the lame, weak offering she aired.  And in the spirit of Marie's challenge, I decided to literally script out what I would have produced if the Full Frontal writers had asked me to draft remarks on the subject. I did my best to channel some of the sentiments she raised in the severely lacking statement she ended up reading, making an earnest attempt to set aside my distaste for her style and worldview, while wrapping them into a package that might plausibly be read in her 'voice.'  For better or worse, here's my final product:

Hi I'm Samantha Bee. 

Last week, I used an ugly word -- a word that I've used before on this show, yes -- but in this instance, I deployed it deliberately to insult Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and advisor. I didn't say it spontaneously, out of anger. I wrote it into my script because I was angry. I was angry about her father's immigration policies. Doing so was wrong and exhibited poor judgment. I want to be provocative and honest on this show, but as I told the New York Times in an interview last year, I want to make sure that I strive for decency in what I see as a troubling political era. I told the Times that we need to seek out the humanity of people who disagree with us. So last week, I failed to live up to my own standards, and I'm very sorry. I shouldn't have said what I did. I apologize without caveat, qualification, or asterisk to Ivanka Trump and the people who love her. 

Of course, I still feel strongly about her father's policies and political decisions. And I'll keep articulating my views on this show every week.  I absolutely do not apologize for that. But that's not what this is about tonight -- right here, right now. It's about saying sorry after crossing a line, which I did. I've also heard from many women, in particular, who are offended by that word -- that epithet -- who want people with platforms like mine to lift fellow women up, not drag them down with terms specifically designed to demean women. I hear you, and I'm sorry. 

When we talk about civility -- and we call out incivility -- it's important to remember that ultimately, civility has to be about more than just using nicer words or sanitized speech. It's about how we act, and how we treat each other. That applies to our president. That applies to how we treat immigrant families. And yes, that applies to me. I should have done better, and I didn't. I hope you'll accept my apology. Now, don't worry: I'll be back next week, rocking the boat and pushing the envelope, as always. I'll just do it through the lens of this clarifying and humbling mistake. Thank you for watching, and good night.

Would that have eliminated people's anger? No. Would a strong, genuine apology have erased many people's contention that she should have faced some form of professional sanctions or consequences for her choice? Probably not. But it would have been better than this, which was evidently good enough for the powers that be at TBS: