TOO LATE NOW TO SAY SORRY?
Why Sam Bee’s Correspondents Are Apologizing for Trump’s ‘Racism’
‘Full Frontal’ correspondents tell us what they learned in their travels to the president’s ‘shithole countries.’
Donald Trump doesn’t like to apologize. So the correspondents from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee are doing it for him.
The bulk of this week’s episode will be dedicated to “The Apology Race,” an ambitious collection of field pieces inspired by The Amazing Race—ironically, the reality competition show that repeatedly bested Trump’s The Apprentice at the Emmy Awards.
“My four correspondents will race to apologize to the world for Trump,” Bee says in a promo for tonight’s show.
Over the course of two weeks, Amy Hoggart, Mike Rubens, Ashley Nicole Black and Allana Harkin received individual assignments to respond to each “godawful, stupid, piece-of-shit thing Trump has done in real time.”
Amazingly, the project launched the day before Donald Trump’s “shithole countries” comments became public.
In the days after Trump made those comments, Full Frontal decided to send Amy Hoggart to Haiti, mostly because it was the closest of the so-called “shithole countries.”
As it turned out, Hoggart was in Haiti at the same time as her TBS network-mate Conan O’Brien, who was taping a special for his show in that country last week as well. They “tried to connect” but didn’t end up running into each other, she told The Daily Beast in a phone interview before heading into Wednesday’s pre-show rehearsal. While Hoggart says she “would have loved to” hang with O’Brien, she also “wanted to prioritize meeting actual Haitians.”
“‘We don’t think you’re a ‘shithole,’” Hoggart would tell them. “Someone who doesn’t know anything about you referred to you off-hand as a ‘shithole.’” In our interview, she also shot back at commentators like Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren, who insisted that Haiti is, in fact, a “shithole.”
“I would love to find out what her experience with Haiti is, how much she knows about it and whether she’s ever been there,” Hoggart said.
Mike Rubens, who has the distinction of being Bee’s only male correspondent, was sent to Mexico City, where he told us he was “astonished” by some of the interviews he conducted with Mexican citizens who took Trump’s many insults to heart.
“These were things that they thought about a lot,” he said. “They felt really upset that they were being misrepresented. As Mexicans, they were like, ‘What is this that we’re ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers?’ They felt genuinely hurt by that. And so eager to say, ‘That’s not what we are.’”
In addition to traveling to Mexico, Rubens also met with United Steelworkers head Chuck Jones, who feuded with Trump over his broken promises to keep jobs at a Carrier plant from moving to Mexico. “It’s not just foreign countries, there’s plenty of people to apologize to right here at home,” he explained.
“The one thing you can be sure of is that pretty much every day Trump is going to say something offensive and shocking,” Rubens added, “so we were pretty sure that there was going to be plenty of material.”
As Hoggart told us, the entire process felt something like a more “depressing” version of the actual Amazing Race. “Because you get a call and they’re like, ‘You’re going here tomorrow, you’re going there tomorrow’ so you’re like, oh my gosh, what an exciting life,” she said. “And then what you’re doing is talking to people whose lives have been destroyed or have been offended or humiliated by Trump, and you’re not thinking about how fun it is to travel at that point.”
Rubens stressed that even though the segments include a lot of comedy, they contain “some really serious moments” as well. “To actually put faces to names and hear actual human beings address these things, I think is pretty powerful,” he said.
“There are pieces in the segments you’ll see tonight in which we meet individuals and families who have been really fucked over by Trump’s policies,” Hoggart added.
But what surprised her even more is how much his words had affected them.
“They’d taken his comment about Haiti being a ‘shithole,’ which I’d thought was ignorant and racist and just something that an idiot would say off-hand—they’d taken it very personally,” she said of the Haitians she met. “And I was really frustrated because I’m convinced he doesn’t even know where it is on a map or anything about it. Anything he types while on the toilet or says off-hand can have a massive effect on people’s pride and their feelings.”
There’s one moment from Hoggart’s trip to Haiti that she loved but didn’t make it into the final edit for tonight’s show. At one point, she met a Haitian woman who previously lived in New York City but “couldn’t stand” living there, so ended up moving back home. “That really made me laugh,” she said, “that America is a shithole.”