By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump called on Friday for comedian Samantha Bee to be fired after she made a vulgar comment about his daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump on her cable television program.
His remarks capped a week when a debate over the language used by two television stars became an unexpected proxy for the country’s political divide, with Bee’s liberal-leaning audience on one side, and fans of the sitcom “Roseanne” and its Trump-supporting star on the other.
On Tuesday, Walt Disney Co’s ABC network canceled a revival of “Roseanne” after its star Roseanne Barr made a racist remark in a post on Twitter, comparing a former top Obama administration official to an ape.
Trump criticized ABC and Bob Iger, chief executive officer of Disney, on Twitter, but did not address the content of Barr’s comments.
He took exception, however, to Bee’s use of a crude term for the female anatomy to describe Ivanka Trump on her show “Full Frontal” on Wednesday, while discussing the president’s controversial immigration policies.
“Why aren’t they firing no talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low ratings show?” Trump said on Twitter on Friday. “A total double standard but that’s O.K., we are Winning, and will be doing so for a long time to come!”
Both Bee and the TBS cable network, which airs the show, apologized on Thursday.
“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 on Twitter. “It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.”
Following Trump’s remarks on Friday, Sal Petruzzi, a TBS spokesman, said there would be no further comment beyond the earlier apologies.
The show immediately faced a backlash from some advertisers.
State Farm Insurance said it had suspended its commercials. “We constantly review programs to ensure alignment to our programming guidelines and brand values,” spokesman Jim Camoriano said in a statement.
Autotrader also suspended its sponsorship, calling Bee’s comments “offensive” in a statement.
Trump’s presidential candidacy was thrown into crisis in 2016 after a tape emerged of him boasting about being able to grab women by their genitalia because of his star status. He had made those comments as he waited to film a segment for the TV program, “Access Hollywood,” in 2005.
Trump later apologized, calling it “locker room banter.”
After “Roseanne” was canceled, the White House said the president would not defend Barr’s comments but pointed to alleged media bias against the TV show, which portrays a working-class American family.
The program, which originally aired from 1988 to 1997, has drawn praise from Trump since its return. Its reboot featured Barr portraying a Trump voter facing off against her sister, an ardent opponent of the president, and tackled other issues reflecting America’s political divide.
TBS is owned by Time Warner Inc, which is seeking to merge with AT&T Inc in a move opposed by the Trump administration. Disney is seeking to merge with Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington and Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernadette Baum)