It’s Christmas time, so why not put on some ugly sweaters and reconcile differences?
That’s what Samantha Bee did on her TBS show “Full Frontal” Monday night, when she sat down with conservative radio and online host Glenn Beck.
“My audience would like to stab you relentlessly in the eye,” Beck told Bee.
“My audience wants to kill me for normalizing a lunatic like yourself,” Bee responded in kind.
Over the years, Beck established himself as a controversial firebrand, and he’s been lambasted continually by the left. He was a favorite target for Jon Stewart when he hosted “The Daily Show.”
But the rise of Donald Trump coincided with an unusual turnaround by Beck, who made it public that he wouldn’t vote for the Republican nominee, and received plenty of blowback from some of his fans. This year, Beck said President Obama has “made me a better man.” He insisted that the Black Lives Matter movement has a valid point. “You can’t be as universally disliked as I am, and not do some soul-searching,” Beck said in August.
So Beck and Bee getting together to find some common ground actually makes a lot of sense. The “Full Frontal” host kicked off the segment by replaying clips showing she was open to criticizing liberals and recognizing reasonable arguments made by conservatives.
But still: “Even if all you said for the rest of your life was reasonable things, I think you’ve still earned a permanent side-eye from [my audience],” Bee told Beck. “Is that okay with you?”
Beck said that was a rational response. But why invite him on “Full Frontal?”
“I think our future is going to require a broad coalition of non-partisan decency,” Bee answered. “It’s not just individual people against Donald Trump. It’s all of us against Trumpism. So I think it’s actually important for us to reach into places where we wouldn’t normally reach.”
Beck agreed with Bee’s assessment of the political climate. “I watch you. I believe you actually don’t want to do damage,” Beck told her. “As a guy who has done damage, I don’t want to do anymore damage.”
He continued: “I know what I did. I helped divide. I’m willing to take that. My message to you is, please don’t make the mistakes I made.”
Beck described himself as not a pessimist, but a catastrophist — a trait he also sees in Bee: “I hate to break it to you — see, I’ve been watching you, and you’ve adopted a lot of my catastrophe kind of traits.”
“Sam Bee is having a Christmas crisis,” she said of that revelation. But she turned the tables: “How does it feel to you, that this,” as she pointed to herself, “is your legacy?”
“Oh crap, I never thought of it that way,” Beck said.
The interview with Beck was one of the “strangest days” Bee had ever had. “Maybe we’re both suckers,” she said. “But very cautiously, by fits and starts, Glenn Beck and I were becoming allies.”