The "C-word" is the most toxic word in the English language, the one that can never be spoken no matter the situation. That's what I learned a couple of decades ago. From women.
The "C-word" must never be uttered by a male, and is even forbidden for females.
Why is it that I — an older white guy — know this and feminist comedian Samantha Bee does not? Was she just dumb or carried over Niagara Falls in a barrel of her own self-righteousness?
The backstory: A couple of days ago, on her TBS show Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, she attacked Ivanka Trump. A mother herself, Bee, 48, called Ivanka a "feckless c–" because of some of her father's immigration policies.
The word is extraordinarily offensive because it reduces a woman to a body part, a sexual organ, and uses a vile slang word for it.
Although her studio audience howled when she used the word — and this was planned and scripted, unlike Roseanne Barr's racist tweet — the comment was justly drowned in an ocean of outrage that swept from right to some shores on the left. A few celebrities defended Bee even after she issued what seemed like a sincere apology. Even an elder hypocrite named Trump got into the act.
So how did I learn to avoid the "C-word" the way our president avoids CNN interviews? Let me take you back to the early '90s, during a 17-year stint I spent as the gossip columnist for the Daily News.
Channel 10 hired Jane Robelot as a reporter in 1991. She quickly became an anchor and the latest "it" woman, known as much for her reported romances with station personnel (weather stud John Bolaris, who claimed it was just a friendship; reporter Andrew Glassman) as for her on-camera work.
It was my job to report on media celebrities' off-screen activities as much as the on-screen ones. The off-screen got more readership because everyone's nosy.
As often happens, hot commodities in Philadelphia (still regarded as the TV minors) get a call from the network, and Robelot joined the CBS network in 1996.
One of the Philly weeklies sent a reporter to New York to do what's called an exit interview — a look back at her time in Philly — most of which she liked, she said, but one thing she didn't.
She said, "Stu Bykofsky never talked to me before he wrote about me."
When the reporter doing the profile of Robelot read that quote to me, I hit the roof, I saw red, my blood boiled — choose any cliché you like.
The truth was this: As I am ethically required to do, every time I was going to write about Robelot, I called to talk to her and left a message on voicemail. She never called me back.
Technically, I didn't talk to her, but that was her doing.
Her lying comment attacked my professionalism and integrity. So I lashed out and called her "a lying c–." It was on the record, and the weekly printed the actual word.
Did I issue a public apology? Was I reprimanded? No, but times were different then.
Still, the response was immediate and ferocious. I was buried with emails. My phone rang all day.
The coup de grace came from Joanne Calabria, the longtime spokeswoman for the news outlet on the other end of the dial, Channel 3, who eventually became a vice president there.
A South Philly Goretti woman with a level head and a ribald sense of humor, Calabria was my fan, and when she told me I was wrong, it sank in. She gave me the explanation about dehumanizing women that I mentioned earlier.
I told her I would never use it again. And I haven't.