Late Night TV in Trump’s America

I have to admit; one of my life’s guilty pleasures is a binging-watching clips from late night TV. From SNL skits to “Carpool Karaoke”, these hilarious snippets are endlessly entertaining. Being a self-proclaimed political junkie, lately I have found myself spending even more time scrolling through YouTube to see what Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon can cook up each week, (see, the hauntingly beautiful rendition of “Hallelujah” on SNL *cue tears* or the laugh out loud Jimmy Fallon impersonating Trump at a press conference). In the midst of the hilarity, I eventually became equally addicted to refreshing @realDonalTrump’s Twitter feed to see his reactions.

https://m.elitestatic.com/m/6df6bf7b59f6f1c7/trump-snl-tweet.jpg

The President’s relationship with the media, has been, well let’s just calls it pretty unique. Since he descended from that escalator in Trump Tower in the summer of 2016, Trump has always had a love/hate relationship with the media. “Alternative facts” have transformed into “fake news” and candidate/President Trump has never shied away from calling out the media, or sharing his sources. Fox News, Breitbart, and even InfoWars are commonly dropped sources the Trump shows affection to. Simultaneously, he has no problem calling out other media outlets, most recently CNN, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal for reporting “fake news” related to the most recent cabinet nominations, skiffs in U.S relations with Russia, or the most recent topic on how Trump and his team are running the West Wing. In Trump’s most recent Press Conference he went on the defensive during the question and answer portion. He pivoted (sorry bad word choice) around tough questions and was outright abrasive towards reporters (see, this convo he had with a reporter asking him about his relationship with the CBC).

While Trump’s non-PC style is nothing new to reporters, or citizens who are not in the media there is something troubling about the attack dog attitude he has taken to the media, and visa-a-versa. In a November article, a WSJ columnist addresses Trump’s on-again/off-again relationship with the First Amendment. While the article’s main focus is on Trump’s earlier comments regarding his distaste for flag burning (a protected form of speech under the first amendment… a decision that our dear friend, Antonin Scalia supported).

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“ ‘If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment,’ Justice William Brennan wrote in response to the decision to strike down the 1989 federal law, ‘it is that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.’

Trump doesn’t seem to adhere to this idea. He has railed against the oppositional media repeatedly, suggesting at one point that he might “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue the media. He disparaged protests earlier this month as being incited by the press and being illegitimate because the protesters were paid (a claim for which there’s no evidence)….

When Trump finds free expression offensive or disagreeable, he seeks to curtail it and, in some cases, impose harsh penalties.”

I have to wonder if Trump’s tweets negatively geared towards media outlets can be applied exactly as Brennan described the first amendment. Because he disagrees with some news (late night or fact-based reporting) outlets covering him and his team in the White House, will he react abruptly? Will he consider legal action, or perhaps another controversial executive order to manage his media coverage? Now, I don’t want to get into prophesizing, but it certainly seems like anything is possible with Donald Trump in the White House.

In the spirit of late night TV, I totally recommend checking out this segment from John Oliver – fair warning: it is a totally biased source and contains some inappropriate content – but is nevertheless entertaining. A great way I procrastinate is by scrolling through Politico’s Playback – I highly recommend it.

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4 Responses to Late Night TV in Trump’s America

  1. Ryan Wadding says:

    Trump seems to not understand a whole lot. In addition to seemingly not understanding the Constitution itself, he also does not understand how important the media is when it comes to our system of representative democracy. It is close to impossible for the average citizen to hold their representatives and government accountable all the time, even myself being someone who spends a lot of his time trying. We depend on journalists to follow stories and search for the truth, especially now when we have an administration that frequently blurs the lines of truth and not. And maybe I am biased but it actually angers me when Trump perpetuates this fallacy that any journalist or news organization that reports something he does not like is a ‘fake’ news organization. Not only does it anger me, it scares me. Not calling Trump a fascist, but what Trump is doing is what fascists do.

    Anyway, I’ll get off my digital soapbox now by saying I grew up watching SNL, so it has always had some sentimental value to me, but I will admit I was not catching every week since I grew older; however, with this election and now this administration I always try to catch the new episode, or record it. Its not only hilarious, but I – like I assume many people – use the humor of SNL to cope with our feelings about the election and Trump.

    Lastly, you were right in pointing out and sharing that John Oliver episode. He is normally great, but that episode was phenomenal. So phenomenal that after I post this comment I am going to procrastinate and watch it again before I begin my homework.

    Great post Morgan! Cheers, friend.

  2. mspivey97 says:

    Excellent work! This administration is a really interesting challenge for late night programs. It seems like these shows have different obligations when making fun of Trump than previous candidates/presidents. Some of the words and actions you hear from this president are so troubling that I’m sure comedians feel like they have to make a more overtly political statement than usual. Jimmy Fallon treated Trump like any other presidential candidate in his first interview with him, making easy jokes about the voice and the hair, and got a lot of criticism in the media. Even though I really like Fallon, it’s hard not to feel like interviews like that normalize Trump that isn’t appropriate. In my opinion, the McCarthy Spicer spoof is the best election-related stuff SNL has put on since Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin, because it makes a substantive criticism while remaining riotously funny. Anyway, I just keep thinking about how inopportune it was for The Colbert Report and Jon Stewart’s Daily Show to end when they did…

  3. bealpeyton says:

    Hey Morgan,

    This was actually my original idea to write about, so thanks for making me have to change the subject!

    Although most people seemed to be terified by the fact that the “leader of the free world” can be so easily, personally wounded by a late night comedy show, to the point where he feels compelled to go on 4am twitter rants, I actually find it to be one of the only things that can help make light of the “dark times” we currently live in. The idea that Sean Spicer might be more likely to get fired becasue he is an easy and hilarious SNL target, or that Bannon could be pushed out of the “inner circle” because there a hashtag saying he is the true president, honestly makes me happier than just about anything that is coming out of the realm of politics these days. One last point that I would like to mention is how there seems to be a newfound breath fresh air bringing life to the world of political comedy. Fot the most part, I think this resurgence derives from the fact that Trump is political figure of historic and unique personality; also, however, I think the recent growth has been caused by the giant gap that emerged after the departure of the Daily Show. Sometimes, once the giant or #1 contender leaves the game, all of the other players are given a chance to grow and vire for the title. Colbert, Meyers, Bee, Oliver, Fallon with the original “good” Trump impression, SNL with the “best” Trump impression, and others have all been able to, collectively, fill the void that was left by Stewart. So, instead of Trump recieving a few big, perfect punches every week, he is absorbing blows from dozens of punches each and every night.

  4. thoughtful32 says:

    I like that your post has a lot of different information, links, photos and even a video. Good use of the blog and its abilities that I haven’t quite figured out yet. What Trump is doing by creating terms as “alternative facts” and “fake news” is creating a rhetoric that establishes him as the sole authority over all other information, regardless if his sources are Fox News and Breitbart. With the amount of power he has acquired at this point, it seems his first step is to mesmerize the weak minded by portraying himself as a hero who finally does what’s right and calls out those phony media people. In reality, Trump strives to be arbitrary voice at the forefront of all topics. He is doing exactly what Justice Brennan states we should not do. In the quote you provided, Trump can account for being both the government and society because he is the one responding and reacting under the title of being president. It seems as though Trump doesn’t care about being a government official and staying impartial to personal feelings and objective in all aspects dealing with the people whom he governs for. He takes every issue extremely personally and if it’s not his way it’s the way. Perhaps it has been his privilege of being a rich white male in which he wants something and so it shall be, but when running a country things don’t simply work that way. You have him throwing fits and tantrums when something does not go as he planned while the people of marginalized communities suffer gravely when his desires are indeed fulfilled. His allegations of fake news is a tantrum to any opposition and when he imposes harsh restrictions on the nation which truly compromise our first amendment rights, it hurts us physically and also emotionally ruins our spirit. That’s why I like shows like SNL because they provide a good laugh to issues that are not so funny.
    -Sonia

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