The View co-host Joy Behar bristled, Monday, at the thought that late-night comedians should be taken to task for pulling punches on Harvey Weinstein, even if they joked for days about Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly, conservative figures who faced sexual harassment and sexual abuse allegations.
The interaction began when another co-host, Sunny Hostin, brought up that comedians couldn't win on the subject. Last week, late night hosts were taken to task for punting on Weinstein, and Saturday Night Live faced scrutiny for avoiding the scandal altogether. When James Corden made a joke about Weinstein at a dinner Sunday night, however, he was forced to apologize.
“Last week everyone was saying the late night hosts didn’t mention the Weinstein scandal,” Hostin explained. “But you know they were always making jokes about Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. SNL took a hit for not saying anything. Now you have SNL doing something. You have James Corden doing something, and now it’s, ‘oh, it’s in poor taste, it’s too soon.'"
Late night hosts like Seth Meyers didn't just avoid Weinstein, some of them — including Meyers himself — responded to criticism by challenging conservative viewers to change the channel, effectively making the issue into a "you're with the liberal Hollywood elite, or you're against us," ultimatum.
Corden received blowback for making controversial jokes about specific women's reported experiences with Weinstein, referencing Weinstein's alleged requests to watch him shower naked and give him a massage in return for career help.
Both sets of comedians are free to do what they want, and critics are free to bit back; that's how the system is supposed to work. Well, unless you're Joy Behar.
“Why?” Joy Behar replied to Hostin, clearly apoplectic at the thought. “Rose McGowan particularly singled out Corden. I really don’t think that it’s appropriate to attack comedians. We’re on the right side of things. ”
“Also, the comedians are there to say the emperor has no clothes,” she went on. “We’re important people right now."
Behar went on to say all of the involved comedians should be insultated from criticism, regardless of the content of their jokes, and regardless of whether the jokes happen to be in poor taste.
Behar's commentary probably has little to do with whether comedians are allowed to make jokes about Harvey Weinstein and more to do with whether comedians can be criticized for "speaking truth to power" about Donald Trump. After all, that's her first priority.