US & Canada

Trump: Samantha Bee should be fired for Ivanka insult

Ivanka Trump (left) and Samantha Bee Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ivanka Trump (left) and Samantha Bee

President Donald Trump has called for comedian Samantha Bee to be fired for insulting his daughter Ivanka with an obscene phrase on her television show.

Bee used an offensive slur when attacking Ms Trump over the Trump administration's immigration policy.

Mr Trump called it a "double standard" that her show was not cancelled like Roseanne Barr, who lost her sitcom after she posted a racist tweet.

Bee has apologised, saying she "crossed a line" with the vulgar phrase.

In his tweet, the president appeared to suggest that it was unfair that Bee did not lose her show as Barr had.

Barr came under fire earlier this week for making a racist comment about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. She compared Ms Jarrett, an African American, to an ape.

Disney, the parent company of ABC TV network, on Tuesday dropped Roseanne's rebooted '90s sitcom amid a ferocious online backlash over her racist tweet. Disney chief executive Bob Iger apologised to Ms Jarrett over the incident.

In a now-deleted tweet, Barr said she implored ABC not to axe her sitcom.

"I begged them not to cancel the show. I told them I was willing to do anything," she wrote, adding that she asked for "help in making things right".

Mr Trump has not condemned Barr's remarks, but criticised Mr Iger for the "horrible" things said about him by the entertainment conglomerate's television personalities.

What did Bee say?

On her political commentary show Full Frontal, Bee attacked the president's daughter over a long-standing US policy of separating undocumented immigrant children from their families.

Presenting Obama-era photos of such young people sleeping in cages, Bee said: "Tearing children away from their parents is so evil, it's the inciting incident in almost every movie we've ever cared about."

She said Ms Trump had been "oblivious" recently to post an Instagram photo of herself hugging her child.

She then called Ms Trump a "feckless [expletive]", employing an offensive term for part of the female anatomy.

Bee urged the first daughter to confront her father about the policy.

"He listens to you," she said. "Put on something tight and low-cut and tell your father to [expletive] stop it. Tell him it was an Obama thing and see how it goes, OK?"

The immigration issue has risen to the fore recently since it was reported that US authorities had been unable to contact almost 1,500 unaccompanied children placed in the care of sponsors.

The Trump administration has also been criticised for its policy of separating children from parents who cross the US-Mexico border illegally.

The hashtag #Wherearethechildren has been used hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter.


Harnessing cultural flashpoints

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC Washington

In February, a White House source told the website Axios that the president's strategy for the upcoming mid-term congressional elections would be to find "unexpected cultural flashpoints" and lean into them in person and on Twitter.

Provoking a debate over whether MS-13 gang members should be called "animals" is one way to do that. Relentless media-bashing is another.

Calling for the firing of a foul-mouthed late-night comedian who mocks conservatives is a third.

The president's decision to condemn Samantha Bee and not Roseanne Barr, who touched the electrified line of US racial discrimination, has opened the president up to charges of hypocrisy - although Mr Trump is far from the first commander-in-chief to respond angrily to verbal attacks on a family member.

In mid-term elections, the party in power traditionally has a more difficult time motivating their voters to head to the polls. The out party, stinging from past defeats, sees the elections as the first chance to settle grievances and strike back. As he did during his presidential campaign, Mr Trump is counting on his ability to shape firestorms and controversies into an electoral force to carry the day. This is just the beginning.


What's the fallout?

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called Bee's language "vile and vicious".

"Her disgusting comments and show are not fit for broadcast," she added, demanding the cable network apologise.

TBS, which airs Full Frontal, duly obliged by agreeing that Bee's language was "vile and inappropriate".

"Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it," said the network's statement.

Car retail website Autotrader.com and State Farm insurance dropped their sponsorship of Bee's TBS show on Thursday.

First Lady Melania Trump has said "the double standard is truly astounding", conservative news organisation the Daily Caller reported.

Barr also weighed in on the situation on Twitter.

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