The Barrs and the Bees: An Appeal for Audience Empowerment

A hullaballoo is raging in the media about . . . what else? The media.

I will not repeat the socially unacceptable quotes by Roseanne Barr regarding Valerie Jarrett, and then, Samantha Bee regarding Ivanka Trump. They’re easy enough to find. Naturally, because of the political connotations of what was written and uttered, people from all ideological stripes have weighed in about the prospective consequences to both Barr and Bee. To date, ABC has canceled Barr’s show, “Roseanne,” despite her public apology; TBS has not canceled Bee’s show, “Full Frontal,” believing her apology should suffice as an appropriate act of contrition.

Naturally, this has led cultural conservatives to decry the media’s double standard between the draconian punishment meted out to “right-wing” entertainers who make socially unacceptable utterances and the lenient treatment of “left-wing” entertainers who commit the same offense. Further, many cultural conservatives are demanding ABC cancel Bee’s program.


If one truly believes in free markets and free speech, one should not imitate the Left’s hostility to both. The appropriate recourse for any American who does not like something an entertainer said, either on their show or otherwise, is to not watch their show. (As the NFL learned, this is the ultimate cudgel an aggrieved audience has upon entertainers who’ve alienated their fan base.)

Indeed, playing the “network must cancel” card is only playing into the hands of the Left. Especially given the networks’ disparate treatment in punishing “right-wing” entertainers who make offensive utterances, why would cultural conservatives urge the networks having a greater latitude in yanking a show off the air?

Better to let the American people make such determinations by viewing—or not—an offending entertainer’s show. In the end, as much as the media loves their virtue signaling, they love money more; ergo, any show that can’t bring its necessary share of viewers to make it profitable is going to wind up erased from the network’s schedule.

This does not preclude cultural conservatives or anyone offended by an entertainer’s socially unacceptable utterances from engaging in political activism to urge a different network to reinstate a beloved show. This constitutes the public defending the sacred principle of free speech against the chilling effect of the liberal network’s corporate caprice; and empowering the public to decide if, on its merits, the show survives.

Of course, there will always be those whose first recourse in being offended is to attempt to silence speech by demanding a show be canceled. But if an entertainer’s remarks are truly offensive, wouldn’t the viewership decline organically without the need for political activism? Certainly, it would; however, this does pose a dilemma for anyone whose political ox is gored at any given time—namely, the responsibility to protect the rights of someone whose speech might offend thee. Not an easy task, these days.

From whatever ideological stripe, entertainers, like everyone, should be judged in the free marketplace of ideas and upon the quality of their product (i.e., show); thus, should enough members of the audience find a particular remark offensive enough to stop viewing, only then should the show be canceled. Otherwise, we further empower the media to determine what is offensive enough to cancel a show.

Best, then, to press for audience empowerment, not network empowerment over which shows stay on the air based upon their merits, not their politics.

After all, you already know the networks aren’t fans of “right-wing” anything; and, most importantly, an America with free speech and free markets in ideas and products is a show that must go on.   

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Photo credit: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images (left); Amanda Edwards/Getty Images (right)

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.