On the EDge: Why the Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee comments differ

Composite image. Television image by mactrunk/iStock/Getty Images Plus. Samantha Bee photo by Neil Grabowsky / Montclair Film via Flickr. Roseanne Barr photo by Leah Mark via Wikimedia Commons, St. George News

OPINION — I’m not quite sure who Samantha Bee is, but she found a strange bedfellow in Roseanne Barr last week when she went after Ivanka Trump with a vulgar misogynistic expletive while criticizing her for her support of her father’s cruel and insensitive immigration policies, particularly regarding the separation of parents and children.

On the other hand I’m pretty familiar with Barr, who has equally guttural comedic instincts, which were on display via a racist tweet she made last week regarding a former aide to President Obama, comparing Valerie Jarrett, who served as a senior advisor in the White House for eight years, with a primate.

Barr lost her television show over her remarks.

As of now, Bee is still employed by the TBS network.

This was pointed out immediately by members of the far right who got their knickers in a wad because TBS did not fire Bee.

Bee’s comments were crude and distasteful.

So were Barr’s.

But there are major differences at play here.

Barr leveled a seriously racist volley at a woman who has left public service, been away from the Beltway game for more than a year now and is working in the private sector. There are no scandals attached to her, no investigations, no whiffs of tainted behavior. She’s clean, detached from the vicious cycle of hate and discontent that is the lifeblood of Washington D.C. and certainly undeserving of such an ugly remark that insulted an entire race of people.

Ivanka Trump is a current and highly visible White House advisor. She lugged water in support of her father’s tax plan and continues to do so with his immigration policy. She is in the game and, quite seriously, is open for criticism on this particular issue after a photo of her cuddling her child was released following her support of an immigration policy that separates families caught up in the white nationalist rhetoric of a racist president who wants to build a wall and, in fact, has suggested that, perhaps, he should completely shut down the border with Mexico, at least temporarily.

When things began to go south for Barr after her racist tweet she started looking for something, anything, to deflect the reactions of the outraged.

She claimed she had taken Ambien and that is why she posted the offensive tweet.

Manufacturers of the sleep-inducing drug quickly responded saying: “Racism is not a known side effect.”

She claimed that she did not know that Jarrett is African-American.

Sorry, that flag won’t fly, either, not here, not anywhere else because we know how the right feels about everything Obama as they try desperately to erase his tenure from the history books. These white nationalists weren’t against Obamacare, they were against Obama, and they tried, unsuccessfully to those paying attention, to mask their racism with politics. It didn’t work, at least for those of us with cognitive skills.

Over the years, Barr has blamed her aberrant behavior on mental illness that manifests itself in a multiple personality disorder. We may never know how true that may be or how, if it is true, it may influence her behavior, which, at least as far as her public persona is concerned, is consistently angry, abusive and anti-social.

Bee, on the other hand, owned her comments. She admitted she knew exactly what she was doing when she uttered them and, we are led to believe, was appropriately contrite afterwards. Was it a PR move to soothe the network? Probably, but she didn’t try to downplay what she said. To come out with such strong language to begin with makes it obvious she, as many others, has little regard for Ivanka Trump. But she didn’t dodge the issue or try to place it into some sort of contrived context.

As a point of disclosure here, I’ve never been a fan of Roseanne Barr.

I have always found her brand of comedy to be sophomoric at best. Still, she had a wonderful platform to bring forward issues of the lower middle class and, of course, working women. But her behavior – whether through her outlandish rendition of the national anthem or other outrageous actions of a mildly talented Hollywood celebrity – always got in the way of making an important statement about the human condition. Every time we tried to get close to Roseanne Barr she would push us away. It’s impossible to cozy up to somebody with so much turmoil and anger in their blood. It’s best, for your own sanity, to simply walk away. But, Roseanne is like that train wreck that you can’t help but stop and stare at.

Samantha Bee is one of those curious, low-echelon celebrities who, I guarantee, was looking for a headline when she uttered her skanky words about Ivanka Trump.

Trump, of course, opened herself up to public criticism when she accepted a post on her father’s cabinet. She is fair game for criticism because she has put herself in that position. This isn’t some little daddy’s girl sitting quietly in the shadows; she has thrust herself into the spotlight through her business and political endeavors. She is out there now, in the political mix, fair game for friend or foe.

Bee’s words were harsh.

Bee’s words were crude.

Bee’s words were juvenile.

I wouldn’t use Bee’s words to describe Trump.

But she has a constitutionally protected right to use them.

What makes this an instance of apples and oranges is the fact that Bee took on Ivanka Trump, one-on-one. She was calling her out and she was purposefully inelegant.

Barr, on the other hand, smeared an entire race with a vulgarity. Yes, she, too, has a constitutionally protected right to say what she said. But her target has moved out of the public eye and is no longer relevant in the news media.

Both of these supposed comedians can say whatever they wish. That does not mean there are no consequences. And even though there are vast differences in what transpired, both were artless in their conversation.

What the events of the last week have launched, however, is new crowing and much gnashing of teeth bout how unfair it was that Barr lost her job and Bee did not.

It brings out a high level of hypocrisy, of course, from conservatives who applauded the National Football League for instituting punishments for those who take a knee during the national anthem.

They stand, every man, woman and child among them, steadfast to the notion that an employer – even one doing business in a monopoly restricting where an employee can earn a paycheck – can rescind freedom of speech rights while the employee is on the clock.

Let me underscore that point.

The people who said an employer has the right to control how employees conduct themselves in the arena of free speech are now saying it was unfair of ABC to cancel Barr’s show because, well, free speech. And, of course, at the same time criticizing TBS for not firing Bee.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about the TV fortunes of Roseanne Barr or Samantha Bee, especially when we have conservative reality playing out before us on TV.

Unfortunately, we already have enough tragedies playing out on the tube and really don’t need another.

No bad days!

Read St. George News columnist Bryan Hyde’s take on the Roseanne Barr incident here: “Perspectives: Falsely crying ‘racism,’ the latest weapon of the thought police”

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • LocalTourist June 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Spot on.

    Each employer had the option of terminating their employee. Because, ‘Murica.
    I don’t see why anyone cries either way. I don’t watch either one of these people. Bee’s comments were part of a script on her edgy ” political comedy” show. If people can’t figure that out by the show’s title, “Full Frontal”, they probably shouldn’t be staying up so late.

    Roseanne, on the other hand, spoke (stupidly) from the heart, following the lead of the president she supports so strongly. Hers wasn’t meant as comedy. And I personally agree with a few comments I’ve seen, like John Goodman, who are inclined to feel Roseanne is showing some signs of mental illness.
    Bee’s, although I don’t find is funny, was part of a comedy routine.
    Big difference.

    • mesaman June 4, 2018 at 8:58 pm

      It’s spelled, “SPIT” on.

  • Kilroywashere June 4, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    I could comment on either opinion piece, regarding this topic. 1. Racism still exists in the world, and that includes America. 2. Racism exists across the entire spectrum of races. Yes I dare say this includes white caucasians too, however it is more blatant and systemic amongst blacks and Hispanics in America – agreed . 3. Resolving racism would be the ideal solution to the problem. 4. The media has hypersenationalized racism and is part of the problem. Each side of the equation pushes their meme in an effort to create an emotional response which brings higher ratings, attention, and often turns the average Joe blow into an overnight sensation, good or bad. Double down with anybody that has celebrity. 5. The truth is racism is dividing this country, and being weaponized in social media. WITH THAT BEING SAID, this polarization has created what I would describe from the old spaghetti Westerns as a “Mexican Stand off” where lines are drawn, and no one is coversing or listening – just staring down each other, waiting for the next tweet or public outcry to become the next meme of the day, or week for that matter. 6. There is a solution. But it is not social media, nor comedians, nor mainstream news. They have failed and turned it into a he said she sad rant. The solution is creating an open dialogue, that is all inclusive. For corporations, the Starbucks approach is a great start. From a public perspective , the all whites are racist approach, has to be accepted as racism too. Yup. As long as that is acceptable, there cannot be an open dialogue. I guess I’m a racist now, for saying the truth.

  • Craig June 4, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    I think mainstream conservatives are concerned with the media’s behavior. That probably does not earn the label far right.

    But, the term does suggest a bias on the part of the writer.

    As for the issue, each station can do as it chooses. Viewers decide.

  • Blemonds June 4, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    There are several problems with the authors opinion here. Like most people, who ignores the fact that Samantha Bee suggested that there is an incestuous relationship between Donald Trump and Ivanka. Imagine the outrage if a comedian would joke today about Barack Obama having an incestuous relationship with Obama. The double standard would kick into high gear instantly. Also, I’m not aware that people of note claimed that the network was wrong to fire Roseanne Barr. The only way that would be wrong is if it violated her contract which is something unknown to us.

    Like many other others, he brings up the conservative viewpoint on the NFL players. What he ignores is that the NFL players protested on the job. Samantha Bee made vulgar comments about Ivanka Trump on the job. Roseanne Barr made her comments on her own time. The only person in these scenarios who had an expectation of free speech was Roseanne Barr. Still, the network had a right to fire her own unless, as I said, it violated her contract to do so.

    This brings up another point. Samantha Bee’s comments, as I said, were made on the job. They were thus scripted which means her network, TBS, approved of what she said. So what people fail to see, is the blatant double standard we see from liberals all the time. By the way, the fact that Valerie Jarrett no longer works for the government is one of the weakest arguments I’ve ever heard. Liberals are more than willing to throw out vulgar insults at people not employed by the government and they get away with it. Why? The double standard

    • bikeandfish June 5, 2018 at 3:51 pm

      Trump’s overt sexualization of his own daughter is well documented and discussed politically:

      ““Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?” (1997 Miss Teen USA Pagaent)

      ““My daughter, Ivanka. She’s 6 feet tall, she’s got the best body. She made a lot money as a model—a tremendous amount.” (2003 Howard Stern interview)
      — A year later Trump gave permission to Howard Stern to call her a “piece of As*”

      “”I don’t think Ivanka would do that (pose nude), although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” (The View 2006)

      “‘Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father . . .’” (Rolling Stones)

      Those are not examples of a father’s healthy relationship with his daughter. Trump has volunteered those statements with consistency. Making fun of his perverted fascination with his daughter is more than fair game.

      So your comment questioning consistency with other presidents falls flat.

  • Real Life June 4, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Spin it Ed, spin it good.

    • mesaman June 4, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      Get a “life”, real. This is Mr Ed’s protege. I think he sneaked him over from Baja on one of his trips south.

      • No Filter June 5, 2018 at 9:01 am

        I think your mom “sneaked” you out of english class as a child. Learn the language or get of our country, isn’t that what you tell immigrants?

        • mesaman June 5, 2018 at 9:34 pm

          For you to allege that you think is an elaboration and a confabulation. My advice, don’t believe every thing you think.

          • No Filter June 6, 2018 at 8:07 am

            How long did yo have to search for big words like that? I’ll follow my own advice thank you, if I followed your advice i would end up in a trailer park sleeping with my first cousin.

      • Real Life June 5, 2018 at 11:15 am

        I think you misinterpreted my comment. No surprise, you are not very smart.

    • Striker4 June 5, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Real Life=Moron

      • Real Life June 5, 2018 at 8:34 pm

        Speaking of not very smart

  • utahdiablo June 4, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    Valerie Jarrett is a Communist POS who was pulling Obama’s strings and helped Transform America into what it has become

  • commonsense June 4, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    The only difference between these two women is their politics. The media really believes they can dictate who holds the power. Removing Trump using an end run around the election process has been the goal of the left since November 2016.

    The irony in the Ivanka Trump remark is she is an fine young woman and Dems promote feminism but only if your are liberal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Ivanka Trump and the remark was cheap.

    On the other hand, Valerie Jarrett, born in Iran, and lives with the Obamas is a promoter of Islam over America. She and BHO hold out hope for a removal of Trump allowing them to advance their fantasy of a Sharia State.
    Need I say more?

    • comments June 4, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      “The irony in the Ivanka Trump remark is she is an fine young woman”

      So would you be one to consider ‘the donald’ a ‘fine young man’?

      i believe you’re out of touch and delusional for the most part. The country is ruled by an extreme moral degenerate, reminiscent of bill clinton, but the irony is that you have no problem with it bc he’s working for the r-party. Ol’ Clinton also ruled during a time of high economic prosperity. If you’re not too senile maybe you recall? It’s nice for you that you feel trump is the second coming of Jesus, but the sooner you come back to reality the better.

    • PatriotLiberal June 4, 2018 at 11:25 pm

      “Valerie Jarrett, born in Iran, and lives with the Obamas is a promoter of Islam over America. She and BHO hold out hope for a removal of Trump allowing them to advance their fantasy of a Sharia State.
      Need I say more?”

      Oh please do. Please “say” your sources for the many claims you made above.

  • No Filter June 4, 2018 at 10:19 pm


    And this comment from Trump is not even the worst thing he is recorded saying about Ivanka. Sick pervert you folks elected.

    • comments June 4, 2018 at 10:40 pm

      Makes you wince doesn’t it. The thing is is that he’s not joking so much as hinting at something. I believe he’d “date” his daughter even with her being his daughter if he hasn’t “dated” her already. He’s enough of a moral degenerate that I wouldn’t put anything past him. Elitist billionaires actually live by “a different kind of morality” than us common peasants…

  • commonsense June 5, 2018 at 10:47 am

    I liked the Clinton years, peace and a balanced budget. The moral high ground is slippery Mr Comments. Don’t lose your balance.

    Valerie Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran. She was Obama’s senior adviser and part of his transition team. Read the article in The New Republic magazine to get a sense of her influence on Obama.
    My understanding from social media is she lives in the Washington DC home with the Obamas, a shadow White House if you will, waiting for the opportunity to rule again or still.

    You commenters, it’s not that hard to research facts and it is more pleasant than resorting to name calling. Can we raise the level just a little bit?

    • comments June 5, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      we raise the level as soon as you abandon your EXTREME black and white thinking: “the LIBRULS done it!”. It’s simply childish nonsense. And to hear that you liked the clinton years. That seems very out of character for you. Maybe some day you will grow up and stop seeing LIBRULS hiding under every rock. Maybe there’s hope.

      • mesaman June 5, 2018 at 9:36 pm

        The assisted living center awaits you.

  • Striker4 June 5, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    The same as you and the other Mormons eh Prophet Bob ?

  • RadRabbit June 5, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    Both remarks are horrible and shouldn’t of been said yet not surprising from either one but Samantha Bee’s comment was actually run by producers and the network which in a lot of ways is even worse.

  • jaybird June 5, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Neither remark was funny, yet Barr meant hers to be and Bee didnt. Valerie Jerrett looks more white than Barr. Ivanka Trump is feckless by virtue of her ineffectiveness to move her father to do ANYTHING good. A government that takes children from their parents for unprosecuted misdemeanor crimes is by definition criminal. Im ashamed of this country.

  • Anon June 6, 2018 at 8:36 am

    This article and the comments following have summed up the moral dilemma in America more succinctly than Ed could ever dream to write. Here we are arguing over who had the more despicable comment when BOTH comments, regardless of whether they were made on private time or on the clock, were inappropriate and vulgar. Neither of these ladies should be lauded for their practice of free speech. Both were offensive and reprehensible and should be considered such in the eyes of Americans. What their networks decide to do with their shows is irrelevant. Controversy brings ratings, after all. The lesson that needs to be learned from this and taught to the younger generation is that, no matter what the outcome, these kinds of insults and inappropriate comments should not be said. The mindset behind them needs to be altered.

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