Those seeking to issue an apology for some viral public offense would do well to heed one of the core values of the website Axios: “smart brevity.” That appeared to be the strategy last week, when “Full Frontal” host and comedian Samantha Bee apologized for referring to Ivanka Trump as a “feckless c–––” during a discussion of the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies, particularly the separation of parents from children at the border. Bee had alighted on an urgent matter; over a two-week stretch in May, more than 650 children were separated from their parents as a result of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy. Yet her execution veered out of bounds.

Here’s how Bee apologized for her epithet:

On her program last night, Bee had a little more time to riff on her tour through the national social-media-cable-news hellscape. “A lot of people were offended and angry that I used an epithet to describe the president’s daughter and adviser last week. It is a word I have used many times 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.”

From there, a qualification crept into her regret. She riffed:

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 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.

Italics inserted for a reason: We can worry plenty about the “niceness of our actions” and refrain from calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c–––” at the same time. It’s not an either-or proposition.

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