The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Samantha Bee on Ivanka Trump comments: ‘I hate that this distracted from more important issues’

Comedian Samantha Bee apologized to White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump on June 6, after calling her a vulgar term. (Video: Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

Comedian Samantha Bee sorta-apologized again Wednesday for the vulgar term she used last week to describe first daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, using her first on-air appearance since the incident to repeat her mea culpa — but also to double down on her underlying criticism of President Trump and his treatment of immigrants.

“I hate that this distracted from more important issues,” Bee said during the airing of her TBS show, “Full Frontal.” She said she apologized to everyone — except, she joked, conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

Bee seemed to blame the media for fixating on the slur rather than the target of her joke. “I should have known that a potty-mouthed insult would have been inherently more interesting to them than juvenile immigration policy,” she said.

Last week, the comedian apologized for calling Ivanka Trump a vulgar term during a critique of the president and his administration’s treatment of immigrant families. After outcry from advertisers and some viewers, Bee backed down from the language she used.

“I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night,” Bee said at the time in a statement to The Washington Post. “It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.”

Bee’s slam followed outrage after Ivanka Trump posted an Instagram picture of her embracing her young son as news was breaking about U.S. officials separating immigrant families that crossed the border from Mexico.

Bee’s insult provoked ire from advertisers, who had threatened to pull out from her show (an echo of the scandal earlier in the week that led to the cancellation of “Roseanne”), as well as the White House. “The language used by Samantha Bee last night is vile and vicious,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement to The Post before Bee’s public apology. “The collective silence by the left and its media allies is appalling. Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast, and executives at Time Warner and TBS must demonstrate that such explicit profanity about female members of this administration will not be condoned on its network.”

But even though she was contrite Wednesday and as she toned down her rhetoric (she even had a bit about introducing viewers to the show’s new censors), Bee kept up the criticism of the president’s immigration policies. She said she was sorry for using “that word” to describe Ivanka Trump, but she pointed to a bigger picture: “Civility is nice words,” she said. “Maybe we should worry a bit more about the niceness of our actions.”

She concluded her show with a wink at the very profanity that landed her in trouble: “Good night, everyone. See you next … Wednesday!”