Illustrating the constant peril of making judgments based on appearance—particularly when it comes to something as trendy or malleable as a haircut—Full Frontal With Samantha Bee has apologized for a segment in which a writer with cancer was inadvertently mocked for having “Nazi hair.” The segment, which aired during this week’s episode as part of the TBS show’s visit to the Conservative Political Action Conference, featured a quick montage of attendees who had the partially shaved undercut (sometimes referred to, with typical dissembling cutesiness, as a “fashy”) beloved by today’s white supremacists such as Richard Spencer. Noting the evolving CPAC style, the narrator says, “This year, the bow ties were gone, replaced by Nazi hair, Nazi hair, Nazi hair.” One of those accused of having “Nazi hair” was Kyle Coddington, a contributor to conservative and libertarian magazine OUTSET.
Unfortunately, as pointed out on Twitter by Coddington’s sister, Megan, his haircut wasn’t for political reasons, but because he’d been recently diagnosed with brain cancer.
As OUTSET founder Stephen Perkins noted in a blog post shaming Bee’s show for its presumption, Coddington had “recently completed his first round of chemotherapy and radiation.” Coddington himself had already joked about how his new haircut was similar to that of Spencer and his ilk, but that he, at least, had a decent reason:
Coddington himself seemed to handle the incident with some humor, asking Bee on Twitter, “Please delete this episode. I look like a balding potato.” In response, the official Full Frontal account issued a public apology:
As of this afternoon, the segment had been removed from its YouTube site (although various duplicates still exist). Meanwhile, executive producer Jo Miller tells The New York Times that it issued another apology to Coddington and his family, and that it would be donating to the GoFundMe established to help him with his treatment. That page has received numerous donations today, presumably in response to this segment.
The Washington Post points out, somewhat redundantly, that Coddington hardly seems like a white nationalist anyway, noting that his social media posts contain “a description of an emotional visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington” as well as numerous criticisms of Trump’s travel ban and his general, man-baby comportment.
In this case of mistaken identity, Coddington is joined by Refined Right editor John-Pierre Maeli, a “Never Trump” conservative who’s denounced the so-called “alt-right” as a racist and “socially unacceptable philosophy,” yet who was similarly called out by Bee’s show for his “Nazi hair.” Maeli offered his own rejoinder today with an article titled, “Response To Samantha Bee: It’s Called Fashion,” reminding the show (and us all) that it’s never a good idea to ridicule strangers out of context—particularly when it’s over a popular haircut that’s shared by bloggers, barbacks, and David Lynches across the whole of the political spectrum, and that just happens to be ruined, like everything else, by a bunch of Nazis.