Five takeaways from the Samantha Bee affair

Samantha Bee may still have a job, and her program may still have a slot on the TBS weeknight lineup, but there will be serious consequences for her on-air comments:

"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---!" Bee said in the now-pulled segment.

"He listens to you!  Put on something something [sic] tight and low cut and tell your father to f------ stop it!  Tell him it was an Obama thing, and see how it goes!" Bee suggested.

Five aspects of the incident are important in understanding where this is leading us.  

Takeaway Number One: Trump Derangement Syndrome has overwhelmed the entire corporate power structure at Time-Warner.

Bee's crude and offensive remarks were scripted, approved by the suits, and aired after recording the show with plenty of time for editing them out.  If apologies are due, Samantha Bee is less culpable than her bosses at TBS and its corporate parent, Time-Warner, which is the responsible party for deciding what goes on its programming.  Both Bee and TBS have publicly apologized:

"Samantha Bee has taken the right action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language she used about Ivanka Trump last night," the network said in a statement.

"Those words should not have been aired.  It was our mistake too, and we regret it," TBS added.

But the corporate bigwigs have exacted no punishment:

Asked if any action would be taken against Bee, a TBS spokeswoman told The Hill that the network had nothing additional to add beyond its statement.

Beyond the obvious contrast to the immediate cancelation by ABC of Roseanne Barr's much more successful television show, there is the huge question, of deep significance to Time-Warner shareholders, of punishment for the executives who planned, oversaw, and approved airing of the offensive segment.

It may also be relevant to note that Time-Warner currently is seeking approval of a mega-merger with AT&T and has now demonstrated bad corporate citizenship.  The high stakes make the resistance of the corporate bosses to punitive actions all the more remarkable.  The only explanation that occurs to me is the pervasiveness of Trump-hatred in the entertainment sector in which Time-Warner lives.

Takeaway Number Two: Advertisers are ahead of TBS and Time-Warner in reacting.

Two substantial advertisers, Autotrader and State Farm, have announced they are pulling out of sponsorship of Bee's program Full Frontal.  They live in a different world from entertainment and worry less about the approval of peers and more about the reactions of insurance and automobile purchasers.  Even though advertisers are essential to the success of broadcasters, the strength of TDS in the entertainment industry makes it an outlier sector of American business.   

Takeaway Number Three: The remarks were infantile and in no way humorous.

The sole appeal of the remarks was shock.  There was no wit or humor at all.  Anyone who has parented young children has seen them use a bad word and giggle.  "You're a poo-poo head" is the level of humor.  That the audience responded positively is another indicator of the extent of TDS among a segment of the public – in this case, the kind of people who would show up as a studio audience for Bee's program (and for the other late-night "comedy" shows).

Takeaway Number Four: Bee was honored by her peers, but they were so ashamed that they kept cameras away.

In an award ceremony planned long in advance, Bee last night received peer recognition:

Samantha Bee ended a challenging Thursday by picking up an award at the 11th annual Television Academy Honors for her TBS series Full Frontal, on which last night she called Ivanka Trump "a feckless c---".  The ceremony, held at NeueHouse Hollywood on Sunset Blvd, lauded those programs advancing social change, and in Full Frontal's case, the series was lauded for its coverage of the Time's Up and #MeToo movement.

Bee skipped the red carpet, but made it inside the building where Deadline's fellow PMC publication IndieWire caught wind of Bee's speech at the podium which received laughs and applause from the audience.  Hours before the ceremony, the Television Academy uninvited the media from attending the ceremony, limiting them to the red carpet, over what they called was "a substantial increase in attending press" as a result of the Bee controversy.

Laughter and applause indicate approval, while barring cameras and Bee's avoidance of the red carpet demonstrate they now recognize their own isolation from and clash with major elements of the society in which they live.  They are starting to realize their own marginality.  This demonstrates the possibility of change, at least on the part of those feeling vulnerable to market reactions.  But, of course, many in Hollywood and the entertainment industry prize peer recognition over market success.  

Takeaway Number Five: A gift to Trump, proof of double standard, and media hostility.

CNN, which has bet its ratings on Trump-hatred and tanked, is a corporate sister of TBS in the Time-Warner conglomerate.  At least a few of its talking heads understand how serious the consequences are for their network.  

It is not merely CNN, but the entire universe of Trump-hating media and the entertainment industry that is discredited.  President Trump's strategy of disempowering his media enemies now has more evidence that they are not to be trusted.

Samantha Bee may still have a job, and her program may still have a slot on the TBS weeknight lineup, but there will be serious consequences for her on-air comments:

"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---!" Bee said in the now-pulled segment.

"He listens to you!  Put on something something [sic] tight and low cut and tell your father to f------ stop it!  Tell him it was an Obama thing, and see how it goes!" Bee suggested.

Five aspects of the incident are important in understanding where this is leading us.  

Takeaway Number One: Trump Derangement Syndrome has overwhelmed the entire corporate power structure at Time-Warner.

Bee's crude and offensive remarks were scripted, approved by the suits, and aired after recording the show with plenty of time for editing them out.  If apologies are due, Samantha Bee is less culpable than her bosses at TBS and its corporate parent, Time-Warner, which is the responsible party for deciding what goes on its programming.  Both Bee and TBS have publicly apologized:

"Samantha Bee has taken the right action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language she used about Ivanka Trump last night," the network said in a statement.

"Those words should not have been aired.  It was our mistake too, and we regret it," TBS added.

But the corporate bigwigs have exacted no punishment:

Asked if any action would be taken against Bee, a TBS spokeswoman told The Hill that the network had nothing additional to add beyond its statement.

Beyond the obvious contrast to the immediate cancelation by ABC of Roseanne Barr's much more successful television show, there is the huge question, of deep significance to Time-Warner shareholders, of punishment for the executives who planned, oversaw, and approved airing of the offensive segment.

It may also be relevant to note that Time-Warner currently is seeking approval of a mega-merger with AT&T and has now demonstrated bad corporate citizenship.  The high stakes make the resistance of the corporate bosses to punitive actions all the more remarkable.  The only explanation that occurs to me is the pervasiveness of Trump-hatred in the entertainment sector in which Time-Warner lives.

Takeaway Number Two: Advertisers are ahead of TBS and Time-Warner in reacting.

Two substantial advertisers, Autotrader and State Farm, have announced they are pulling out of sponsorship of Bee's program Full Frontal.  They live in a different world from entertainment and worry less about the approval of peers and more about the reactions of insurance and automobile purchasers.  Even though advertisers are essential to the success of broadcasters, the strength of TDS in the entertainment industry makes it an outlier sector of American business.   

Takeaway Number Three: The remarks were infantile and in no way humorous.

The sole appeal of the remarks was shock.  There was no wit or humor at all.  Anyone who has parented young children has seen them use a bad word and giggle.  "You're a poo-poo head" is the level of humor.  That the audience responded positively is another indicator of the extent of TDS among a segment of the public – in this case, the kind of people who would show up as a studio audience for Bee's program (and for the other late-night "comedy" shows).

Takeaway Number Four: Bee was honored by her peers, but they were so ashamed that they kept cameras away.

In an award ceremony planned long in advance, Bee last night received peer recognition:

Samantha Bee ended a challenging Thursday by picking up an award at the 11th annual Television Academy Honors for her TBS series Full Frontal, on which last night she called Ivanka Trump "a feckless c---".  The ceremony, held at NeueHouse Hollywood on Sunset Blvd, lauded those programs advancing social change, and in Full Frontal's case, the series was lauded for its coverage of the Time's Up and #MeToo movement.

Bee skipped the red carpet, but made it inside the building where Deadline's fellow PMC publication IndieWire caught wind of Bee's speech at the podium which received laughs and applause from the audience.  Hours before the ceremony, the Television Academy uninvited the media from attending the ceremony, limiting them to the red carpet, over what they called was "a substantial increase in attending press" as a result of the Bee controversy.

Laughter and applause indicate approval, while barring cameras and Bee's avoidance of the red carpet demonstrate they now recognize their own isolation from and clash with major elements of the society in which they live.  They are starting to realize their own marginality.  This demonstrates the possibility of change, at least on the part of those feeling vulnerable to market reactions.  But, of course, many in Hollywood and the entertainment industry prize peer recognition over market success.  

Takeaway Number Five: A gift to Trump, proof of double standard, and media hostility.

CNN, which has bet its ratings on Trump-hatred and tanked, is a corporate sister of TBS in the Time-Warner conglomerate.  At least a few of its talking heads understand how serious the consequences are for their network.  

It is not merely CNN, but the entire universe of Trump-hating media and the entertainment industry that is discredited.  President Trump's strategy of disempowering his media enemies now has more evidence that they are not to be trusted.