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Anatomy of ‘SNL’ Bias: The Trump-Clinton Debate

Alec Baldwin, hired to portray Donald Trump this season, is freakishly good in the role. And the long-running show’s liberal biases are still firmly in place.

Let’s break down the most talked about sketch from the weekend’s premiere episode. The show’s cold open began with, what else, the first Trump-Clinton debate. How could it resist? What followed was darn-near textbook sketch bias, right from the opening bell.

Let’s dive in.

There are a few things Trump supporters don’t want highlighted about their candidate:

  • His sketchy temperament
  • His cruel treatment of select women
  • His rampaging ego
  • His alleged racism
  • His word salad style

Clinton devotees, in comparison, hope to downplay all of the following flaws in their candidate:

  • The Clinton Foundation imbroglio
  • Her utter lack of transparency
  • Her inability to tell the truth
  • Her malignant email scandal
  • Her awful record of accomplishment

If any sketch hits these issues, the candidate in question will suffer accordingly. This isn’t just comedy, mind you. There’s a reason we recently learned about new pressure being brought upon satirists to keep hitting Trump up until Election Day.

Jokes matter in our culture. Seriously.

So what happened? Michael Che, portraying biased moderator Lester Holt, introduces Trump by saying he’s to blame for the bottom half of his children’s faces. Right away, “SNL” is mocking both a candidate’s physical appearance and his children in one “laugh” line.. Imagine if they did the same to Clinton?

A coughing, weakly Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon, an unabashed Clinton booster), enters the debate stage. She’s precisely as the InfoWars crowd depicts her.

Frail. Sickly. Unable to walk without a cane.

Then, she does a forward roll, springs up and declares herself ready for action. The Clinton Campaign staff couldn’t have written a friendlier entrance.

The debate begins.

Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton Debate Cold Open - SNL

Clinton’s health is a legitimate issue that “SNL” tries to shoo away. Instead, the show’s writers suggest Trump wanted the debate to wrap in only a few minutes. Suddenly, he’s the one without the “stamina” to mix it up for 90 minutes.

Clinton’s “Trumped Up” line, a limp attempt at a debate catchphrase, is properly roasted by both Che and McKinnon.

Then, it’s back to the bias.

RELATED: Late Night Comics Compare Trump to Murderer

Trump spouts the expected stream of bombast, and when the camera returns to Clinton she says, “I think I’m gonna be president.”

That comes despite post-debate polls showed neither candidate scored a knockout punch.

“He’s clearly unfit to be Commander in Chief,” Clinton continues, listing the actual candidate’s talking points against him. The real ones. Nothing comedic here.

Then, the sketch mocks Sean Hannity’s Trump adoration without showing anything similar to Clinton. McKinnon brings up Clinton’s “human father,” a nod to the “SNL” narrative that’s she’s cold and calculating. It’s the go-to caricature McKinnon has been using for some time.

It’s clever and effective, but it’s never meant to sway voters.

Her Clinton then paints Trump as a racist, to which Trump responds, “the thing about the blacks is that they’re killing each other,” while Holt shakes his head in shame.

The toughest stab at Clinton comes near the end, when they refer to her name dropping Alicia Machado as a “a strong, beautiful political prop that I almost forgot to mention tonight.”

The faux Trump wraps by bringing up former President Bill Clinton’s infidelities. That only matters from an electoral point of view because the former First Lady savaged the women her husband allegedly accused of sexual abuse.

Only Trump didn’t play the Bimbo Eruption card during the debate. Nor does the show connect the Clinton dots regarding why the affairs matter.

Meanwhile, the weekend’s Parade Magazine featured several “SNL” cast members for its latest cover story. The angle? How “SNL” doesn’t take sides.

“Humor is a powerful tool,” cast member Cecily Strong tells the magazine before she and her cast mates pay lip service to “SNL” playing it straight, ideologically speaking.


Expect more of the same between now and Election Day.


  1. When the media which is granted special rights by the government to give the people a fair and honest report of the truth of an election, then the media strongly chooses and helps one parties candidate over the others it is a fixed election, and if Hillary wins she will be seen as illegitimate by millions of Americans!

  2. Saturday Night Live simply has not been funny for years.
    Like a stopped clock – it’s going to be funny twice a day, but that doesn’t make them creative.
    The Democrats only care about blacks every 4 years and SNL boosts their slumping ratings at the Republican’s expense during the Presidential Elections.
    Like clockwork.

  3. Thats their M.O.! Thats also ALL they got going for them, since their ratings are in the toilet because, all they do is mock Trump!

  4. A key part of these skit’s effectiveness is how they are then replayed on the news channels. I recall in 2008 that you could count on every SNL Palin skit to be replayed every 60 minutes on MSNBC followed by each show’s host and panel then mocking & deriding Palin. The same goes for effective late night show jokes and skits that can be used to promote the latest derogatory narrative on the GOP candidate.

    SNL’s (and Trevor Noah’s, Samantha Bee’s, Seth Meyers’s, et. al) reach/viewership may not be all that great, but you can bet that an effective hit against Trump will be amplified on MSNBC, CNN, and the network news programs.

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