Ellen DeGeneres addressed the photos of her sitting with former President George W. Bush on her show on Tuesday, but Twitter is not done being angry at her yet. The comedian acknowledged the outraged crowd who felt she should not be so friendly with the former president, saying that she is friends with lots of people "who don't share the same beliefs that I have."
DeGeneres gave viewers some background on this story, which unfolded on social media over the last few days. On Sunday, she and her wife Portia de Rossi went to Dallas, Texas to attend the Cowboys-Packers game as guests of the Jones family, who own the stadium there. They were seated in the owner's box with some highly influential characters, and they even made it onto the TV broadcast.
"When we were invited, I was aware I was gonna be surrounded by people from very different views and beliefs," DeGeneres explained in her monologue, "and I’m not talking politics. I was rooting for the Packers and — get this — everyone in the Cowboys suite was rooting for the Cowboys."
She kept going like this, sharing the story while inserting light-hearted jokes throughout. However, she did not shy away from the controversy that her seating arrangement caused, nor did she deny being friendly with the former president.
"During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together, so people were upset. They thought, 'Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?' Didn’t even notice I’m holding the brand new iPhone 11," she said.
"Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have," DeGeneres went on. "We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that we’re all different... But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be friends with them."
DeGeneres then related the issue to her signature sign-off "be kind to one another."
"When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter," she said.
As the monologue made the rounds on social media, many critics were still not impressed. Members of the LGBTQ community in particular felt betrayed, as President Bush repeatedly campaigned on the promise to enact a constitutional amendment making same-sex marriage illegal. To them, it was a civil rights issue.
This Ellen/Bush story isn’t about “disagreement.” We all have friends who see the world differently. George W. Bush fought against marriage equality, put us into unjust wars, and destabilized whole countries. To frame this as a “difference of opinion” is dishonest.— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) October 8, 2019
"This incident just serves as proof that elites stick together no matter the criminality or monstrosity of each individual," tweeted journalist Walker Bragman. "So for that, [Ellen], I suppose we should thank you. You’re showing us what we can expect to happen a few years after Donald Trump leaves office."
Unperturbed, DeGeneres shared the monologue on Twitter herself, making her stance clear.