That was the sentiment expressed today on Meet The Press by Wall Street Journal columnist and former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan Peggy Noonan.
“Part of the problem is public figures having a hard time being public figures,” said Noonan. “When you are lucky enough in America to be a public figure, your celebrity is not only your pleasure, it is your responsibility. What is that responsibility? Don’t make it worse. Don’t make it ugly or don’t make it sicker. Samantha Bee doesn’t seem to understand that responsibility. Roseanne didn’t understand it. I am very glad to see a certain amount of backlash against them, almost as if the American people are saying, ‘Stop it already. This is terrible. You’re making it worse.’ ”
Noonan was joined in the discussion by NBC News correspondent Katy Tur, Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, and Joshua Johnson, host of 1A on NPR, with host Chuck Todd.
Todd began the discussion by asking whether the culture wars sparked by comments from Roseanne and Samantha Bee was about “our inability to deal with race in this country? That’s what the left sort of sees it at, Joshua. Or is this about a double standard in that we sort of hold folks on the right more accountable with their bad taste than we will on the left?
Johnson claimed the Roseanne remarks (which attacked Valerie Jarrett) and Bee’s use of a vulgar word (which attacked President Trump advisor Ivanka Trump) were not equivalent.
“Roseanne Barr made a racist slur,” said Johnson. “Samantha Bee made a cruel, misogynist joke and not even a very good one. If you have to end the joke with an insult, it means you couldn’t think of a good punch line. So she just needs to be a better writer next time.”
Johnson added the remarks by both are part of the “cultural current” that gave Stephen Colbert “the cover to say that the only thing that Donald Trump’s mouth is good for was being Vladimir Putin’s you know what holster, I mean, it’s the exact same current that the Russians exploited to influence the 2016 election. It’s our hate. It’s our misgiving. It’s our fear. The fault is not in our TV stars but in ourselves. And that’s where the problem is.”
Tur said it was unfortunate that Bee’s vulgar remark overshadowed the story she was trying to relay about families being “ripped apart” at the border. “That is a real issue that is not being covered because we’re all talking about Samantha Bee using a word that she should not have used.”
Noonan took issue with that characterization. “It wasn’t just a word. It was an obscene personal attack. Obscene. And that did obscure her point. But that also showed maybe she wasn’t serious about it.”
Lowry brought up that “some people are saying Trump enabled Roseanne Barr. She has been a kook for 20 years. And her Twitter timeline has been grotesque for ten years, or however long she’s been on Twitter. But Samantha Bee was hired to be a partisan vulgarian. And underlying something Peggy said, my friend, Yuval Levin at National Affairs makes a point: the problem with our institutions, no one considers themselves an insider anymore, has responsibility for being better and being a good steward. Everyone considers themselves an outsider.”