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Samantha Bee, Roseanne and a week of double standards in media

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This past week has been a fascinating case study in double standards as it pertains to former ABC comedian Roseanne Barr, current TBS comedian Samantha Bee, and the laws of hateful, vile rhetoric.

To review: Earlier this week, Roseanne tweets that former Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett is a product of “The Planet of the Apes” and “the Muslim Brotherhood.” Her hit ABC show that bears her name is promptly cancelled just hours later — and for very good reason: Her comment is so repugnant that no one should tolerate it, excuse it or defend it. (And no one with any sense tries or does.)

{mosads}From there, cable news content is dominated by all-things-Roseanne on Tuesday and Wednesday. While no one actually defends her, some subplots instead emerge, particularly one from the right involving an argument that conservatives and Trump supporters are held to one standard while liberals are held to quite another.

ESPN’s Keith Olbermann is evoked often in this process. The sports anchor-turned-political host-turned-sports anchor again was just hired back for the sixth time by ESPN, which happens to be owned by Disney.

ABC also is owned by Disney. And Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, just cancelled Roseanne, citing her comments as being “repugnant” and “inconsistent” with Disney standards. No argument from anyone there.

But Olbermann has a history on Twitter that may not be consistent with Disney values, either. He’s called the president and members of his family “Nazi motherf***rs” on numerous occasions. Critics of Iger and Disney see that as proof that the company only applies a certain standard to one side. 

On Wednesday night, enter Samantha Bee, host of “Full Frontal” on TBS. In her opening segment, she decides to focus on a policy separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. And then, for whatever reason, she shows a photo of Ivanka Trump embracing her infant son that was posted by Trump over the holiday weekend. Bee’s response: “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say one mother to another: do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless c–t.”

At first, the headlines weren’t what one would call scolding, instead opting for characterizations such as “slams,” “tears,” “rips” and “shreds” in almost celebrating Bee’s choice of insult. 
CNN, which is owned by the same parent company as TBS, offered a story on reviewing Bee’s remark without editorial comment, but has not touched on it on the air as of this writing. It’s a stark contrast from Tuesday and Wednesday, when the network seemingly went heavier on Roseanne coverage than any other story those days.
Coverage on the network has been largely muted when compared to the amount Roseanne generated for 48 hours prior.
Let’s be clear: Bee’s comment, as abhorrent as it is, isn’t quite on the level of Roseanne’s racist rant. But it is still pretty awful when considering this context:
Picture any conservative/Republican woman — Laura Ingraham, Katie Pavlich, Dana Loesch, Mary Katherine Ham, S.E. Cupp, for example — using the same language Bee did in describing Elizabeth Warren, Chelsea Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama. 
Now picture the reaction in the media. 
Then picture the TBS response. Does it resemble ABC’s swift reaction to Roseanne’s comments? 
It should. Maybe not as far as a firing but a least a public scolding, condemnation and possibly a suspension, right? 
The Hill has reached out to TBS for comment but, like other outlets who have done the same, hasn’t heard anything back as of Thursday morning. 
So what happens from here? 
Well, for starters, TBS couldn’t be more proud that Bee will be recognized for “advancing social change” by the Television Academy tonight in Hollywood.

But on cable news, we’ll likely see this script play out: 

Outrage on Fox News from its opinion hosts and most guests, with the double-standard argument fully on display. 
On CNN and MSNBC, likely not very much coverage at all. 
In the end, what this whole case study proves is how phony, how selective, the outrage in our media can be. Because you can’t possibly slam Roseanne and not do the same to Bee, if raising the level of public discourse and decrying hateful rhetoric in all forms is the goal. 
But as long as we stay in our safe spaces while predictably always picking a side, as many in this business do, the discourse will only get much, much worse than we witnessed this week.
Update 2:30 p.m. Eastern: Bee apologized on Twitter, calling her comments “inappropriate and inexcusable.”
Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill.
Tags Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton Ivanka Trump Ivanka Trump Joe Concha Kamala Harris Michelle Obama Michelle Obama

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