In a tweet published on Friday morning, President Donald Trump suggested that TBS fire television host Samantha Bee, after the comedian used a vulgar term to describe White House adviser Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter. But while it’s natural for the president to claim a paternal prerogative in defense of his own children, Trump’s unique position puts him in sketchy waters with regard to the First Amendment.
What’s more, Trump’s claim of a “double standard” in play casts him in a hypocritical light, based upon his own history of wanton vulgarity.
“Why aren’t they firing no talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low ratings show?” he wrote. “A total double standard but that’s O.K., we are Winning, and will be doing so for a long time to come!”
Why aren’t they firing no talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low ratings show? A total double standard but that’s O.K., we are Winning, and will be doing so for a long time to come!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2018
On Wednesday night, in the opening monologue of her show, Full Frontal, Bee criticized Ivanka for posting a photo of herself with her son at the same time her father was implementing aggressive immigration policies that separated hundreds of thousands of children from their parents at the southern U.S. border.
“Ivanka Trump, who works at the White House, chose to post the second most oblivious tweet we’ve seen this week,” Bee said. “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.”
Bee later apologized for the remark in a statement, saying she had “crossed a line” in using the expletive. “It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it,” she wrote.
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. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.
— Samantha Bee (@iamsambee) May 31, 2018
TBS also issued a separate apology, stating, “Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it.”
Bee’s comments came one day after comedian Roseanne Barr was criticized for making racist remarks about former Obama administration senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Barr later issued an apology and claimed she was leaving Twitter, and ABC canceled her show, Roseanne, a short while later. The comedian quickly returned to the social media platform within the day and reverted to tweeting questionable content in the days that followed and suggested that the sleeping drug Ambien had caused her to write racist things.
Conservatives, including Trump, have since attempted to draw some sort of comparison between the two comedians, denouncing what they claim is a double standard among liberals and the media.
“Compare ABC’s reaction to Roseanne Barr’s tweet w TBS’s non-reaction to Samantha Bee and you’ll see a double-standard in action,” tweeted Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. “There’s no uprising against Bee. Why? Because she is liberal. Because the MSM protects Obama and his aides, but not Trump. The hypocrisy is sickening.”
The president’s suggestion that TBS fire Bee over her remark, however, may actually pose a threat to the First Amendment. In suggesting that certain language be banned from media and calling for Bee’s firing, Trump, an elected official, may arguably be attempting to infringe on Bee’s right to free speech.
“[The First Amendment] doesn’t apply to media companies punishing employees […],” Paste Magazine‘s Roger Sollenberger wrote Thursday. “The First Amendment (though it has several exceptions, such as defamation and incitement to violence) is our guarantee that the government will never step in to silence its critics. So it is a violation of the First Amendment for the White House to step in and advocate private citizens should be silenced for speaking their mind.”
Many have also pointed out that Trump himself enjoys using the word “c—t” several times in the past to describe women whom he dislikes.
As Scott Bixby of The Daily Beast notes, in his book, Fire and Fury, author Michael Wolff claims Trump described former acting attorney general Sally Yates as “‘such a c—t” when squaring off with her over the travel ban, which targeted people from several Muslim-majority nations. Trump later fired Yates for refusing to implement the ban.
Former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Jennifer Lin also claims that Trump called her a “c—t” during an angry phone call in 1988. Trump had reportedly phoned Lin to complain about a story she had written about his allegedly shady business practices in Atlantic City.
Jessica Leeds, who accused the president of groping her and allegedly attempting to reach up her skirt during a flight to New York in the 1980s, also claims the then-businessman called her a “c—t” after meeting her again at a gala years after the incident.
“I remember you,” Leeds recalled Trump saying. “You were that [c—t] from the airplane.”
Trump also has made lewd remarks about groping women without their consent, admitted to making sexual advances on married women, and has made disparaging remarks about both the women who have accused him of sexual predation as well as the wives of his political rivals, specifically Heidi Cruz, wife of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), who ran against Trump in the 2016 GOP primaries. Trump has also mocked his female political opponents for their looks.