You can't blame "Saturday Night Live" for re-branding itself the "Donald Trump Follies."
There’s never been a juicier political figure than the real estate mogul turned GOP frontrunner. President Bill Clinton looks absolutely dull by comparison. So does Sarah Palin.
Trump delivers raw comedy gold on an hourly basis. And that’s just via his Twitter feed. The ego. The misspellings. The inanities. The lightning-quick backtracking from outrageous positions.
The only problem for a humorist? What absurdity to tackle first?
That provides “SNL” with not one but two benefits. The show gets a steady flow of inspiration, and it all comes at the GOP’s expense.
The once-balanced comedy show is now hopelessly partisan. For seven years it held back on President Barack Obama. Even a public figure as foolish as Vice President Joe Biden more or less got a pass.
“SNL” isn’t content to merely taunt Trump, though. It weaponizes him against the GOP.
After all, when comedians let their biases seep into their material it’s not an accident. The show’s scribes took notes when former star Tina Fey hammered Palin, and the Alaskan governor’s approval ratings subsequently sank.
That Palin would eventually live down to Fey’s impression is the politician’s own fault.
But here are four ways “SNL” is using Trump to hammer not just the real estate mogul but his newly adopted party:
- Use Trump to Tar Cruz: Saturday’s “cold open” (video clip above) featured a cult-like Trump defender, Scottie Nell Hughes (Cecily Strong), spinning every moronic comment Trump makes. At the skit’s end, Hughes finally spits out, well Trump, “is way better than Ted Cruz.” CNN anchor Kate Bolduan, played by Kate McKinnon, says, “OK, yes, that I do agree on.” That’s not comedy. That’s a show hedging its bets, willing to slam the other contender in the GOP race just in case Trump fizzles out. Expect more of that should the race shift in the weeks to come.
- Hit Trump, Ignore Hillary: Every skit focused on Trump’s reality show of a campaign means less time to mock his opponents. In this case, that means Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. “SNL” has spent some time taunting Sanders, in part thanks to a killer impression from Larry David. And McKinnon’s cold-as-ice Hillary has its moments. They still don’t get nearly the stage time as Trump, nor are either depicted in a fraction of the unsavory way as Trump. So during a week when Hillary Clinton complains about Sanders’ “tone” and we learn the investigation into her email imbroglio is getting more serious, “SNL” focuses on … Trump.
- Use Trump to Tar GOP voters: Many Trump voters overlook the man’s serial flaws. They see a candidate who isn’t part of the “establishment.” He doesn’t hold his tongue for fear of offending someone, which is refreshing in our PC age. And he isn’t beholden to any special interest groups, at least not as much as his peers. For them, that’s enough to hop aboard the Trump train. They apparently swallow hard, very hard, at all the rest. Yet “SNL” wants us to think every Trump voter embraces his very worst impulses. That’s a fancy way of saying they’re just as racist at Trump appears to be at times. This “SNL” faux Trump campaign ad ties Trump’s racist posturing to his supporters. That’s the takeaway the show hopes to achieve.
- Energize the War on Women Meme: The GOP hates women. It’s what liberals have been declaring for some time now. They used an innocent turn of phrase with zero negative impulses – Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” quote – into a successful attack point in 2012 aided by an eager press. The fact that many Republicans are pro-life was also used against them. Now, we have a GOP presidential contender who genuinely says awful things about women. Not only is “SNL” playing it up, it’s dedicating entire segments to it. That can only help the Democrats now … and as November nears.
GOP voters are partially to blame for all of this. They’ve made Trump the frontrunner for months now, and barring a convention switcheroo they’ve paved the way for him to become the GOP nominee.
“SNL” has giddily done the rest, weaponizing Trump as the show sees fit. And it’s only April.
And by the way…
Did you notice the very first line in “SNL’s” cold open, featured above? The faux CNN anchor says she has the “brain for MSNBC” and the “hair” for Fox News, which puts her squarely in the middle via CNN. Sometimes the show’s writers don’t bother to hide their biases. And any comedy writer who thinks a network that hires the likes of Alec Baldwin (briefly), the Rev. Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz and Melissa Harris Perry represents a “brainy” news outfit … well, that’s pretty funny.
UPDATE: “SNL” isn’t the only comic outlet targeting more than Trump: