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Samantha Bee's new C-word apology was sincere — and coerced

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large, Yahoo Entertainment
Samantha Bee on Full Frontal. (Photo: TBS)

Samantha Bee followed up last week’s C-word controversy with an A word: She apologized extravagantly for the ruckus she stirred up on her TBS show, Full Frontal.

“I crossed the line. I regret it, and I do apologize for that,” Bee said at the start of her show on Wednesday night, the first one since the May 30 show in which she called Ivanka Trump — “the president’s daughter and adviser” — a very bad word. “The problem is that many women have heard that word at the worst moments of their lives,” said Bee, adding “a lot of them don’t want that word reclaimed. … I don’t want to inflict more pain on them. I want this show to be challenging, and I want it to be honest.” Bee apologized to any female viewers who may have been offended. As for men who were also offended? “I do not care about that,” she said. “I never intended [for this show] to hurt anyone — except Ted Cruz,” she joked.

Bee tried to get a few laughs from the situation by presenting a bunch of supposed TBS “mandatory censors” who’d keep her from committing another bad-taste error, but it wasn’t very funny. And she proceeded to do a solid segment about the original subject of her Ivanka joke — Trump administration policies regarding “missing migrant children.”

One significant thing Bee said about the C word on Wednesday will, I suspect, be overlooked: “It is a word I have used on the show many times.” Indeed, when all the media explosions went off, when suddenly everyone starting using the same word — vile — over and over and over again, I was initially surprised, because I did recall that Bee had used that word before on the show with no repercussions. This time it’s different because we live in Trump World. Once again, we find ourselves operating in a media world in which Donald Trump supporters call the cultural shots. By now, we know that Trumpists are on the alert for even the most mild criticism of the president and his family. The media knows this and anticipates the Trump outrage, thereby helping the Trump side by calling attention to even potential insults and saying, in effect, “Oooh, did you Trump supporters hear what this person said? Are you angry? Can we get that on camera, please?” This is outrage being manufactured once again. Bee wasn’t doing anything new in using the C word — she just got caught saying it about the “wrong” person.

Bee’s apology came the same day the Hollywood Reporter reported that the management of TBS “will have more scrutiny over Bee’s show.” “The network had previously given Bee essentially full creative license,” the report said, but now, “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.” I wonder how this sort of oversight is going to play out as Full Frontal proceeds. It’s hard to imagine that Bee will stand for having her show edited or modified to placate nervous network executives who are bound to be more cowardly about attacking the powerful than Bee might be. But then again, I didn’t think Bee would apologize as quickly as she did for criticizing Ivanka Trump’s professional life in the White House. I wish she hadn’t.

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on TBS.

More: Last Night Now on Bee’s apology:

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