The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

The end of summer and arrival of fall not only means cooler temperatures and shorter days; it also means the return of NBC’s long-running “Saturday Night Live,” which launched its 44th season on September 29. For President Donald Trump, a new “SNL” season brings with it the fear of being lampooned by Alec Baldwin—and sure enough, “SNL’s” October 13 show opened with a skit poking fun at Trump’s recent meeting with rapper Kanye West(played by Chris Redd). Baldwin’s impression of Trump has been wildly popular, but the president is not a fan. And Trump is the first president in “SNL’s” 43-year history who has been deeply upset by a humorous impression of him.

“SNL’s” lampooning of presidents of the United States is a time-honored tradition going back to 1975,when Chevy Chase (who was part of the show’s original cast along with comic giants like John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner) unveiled his impression of President Gerald R. Ford. Chase was unmerciful, portraying Ford as an accident-prone klutz who would leave the Oval Office in shambles. But Ford didn’t react negatively. He even appeared with Chase at a White House dinner in 1976, declaring, “I’m Gerald Ford, and you’re not” (a play on Chase’s famous line, “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not”).

Actually, Ford wasn’t a klutz. He was an avid tennis player who had been a college football star, but showing that he could take a joke and appearing with Chase in public was a smart public relations move.

Over the years, “SNL” has lampooned eight different presidents: five Republicans (Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Sr., George W. Bush and Trump) and three Democrats (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama). There were some hilarious impressions along the way, from Dana Carvey portraying Bush, Sr. to Aykroyd portraying Carter. And sometimes, the real-life presidents would show up, such as President George H.W. Bush, Sr. himself appearing and humorously critiquing Carvey’s impression of him.

When it comes to mocking presidents, “SNL’s” nonpartisan rule has always been that both Democrats and Republicans are fair game. But Trump is the first president who has gotten into a bitter war of words with the person doing an impression of him.

Showing how thin-skinned he is, Trump (who hosted “SNL” in 2015) has repeatedly attacked Baldwin on Twitter. On October 16, 2016, Trump posted, “Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”

On March 2, Trump tweeted, “Alex (sic) Baldwin, whose dieing (sic) mediocre career was saved by his impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing DJT was agony for him. Alex, it was also agony for those who were forced to watch. It was terrible.”

Trump’s angry anti-Baldwin tweets are quite a contrast to “SNL’s” relationship with members of the Bush family. Carvey was on very friendly terms with President George H.W. Bush, who was genuinely amused by Carvey’s impression of him. And President George W. Bush stressed that he never took offense when Will Ferrell portrayed him as a goof who couldn’t speak English correctly.

Nor did President Bill Clinton take offense when he was lampooned by two different “SNL” cast members—first Phil Hartman, then Darrell Hammond.

On September 30—the day after “SNL’s” season premiere—Trump couldn’t resist attacking the show on Twitter. Trump tweeted, “Like many, I don’t watch Saturday Night Live (even though I past hosted it) – no longer funny, no talent or charm. It is just a political ad for the Dems. Word is that Kanye West, who put on a MAGA hat after the show (despite being told “no”), was great. He’s leading the charge!”

The “political ad for the Dems” part is ludicrous in light of the fact that “SNL” has been having laughs at the expense of Democrats for 43 years—and “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels himself recently donated $5000 to Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who most Democrats are furious with for voting for the confirmation of Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh.

While others view “SNL” as a show that ridicules politicians of both the left and the right, Trump insists that “SNL” has a vendetta against him personally. And the more he rails against “SNL,” the more he shows his controlling, authoritarian nature.

Alex Henderson is a news writer at AlterNet and veteran political journalist. His work has also appeared in Salon, Raw Story, Truthdig, National Memo, Philadelphia Weekly, Democratic Underground, L.A. Weekly, MintPress News and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson.

 

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

The privilege of beholding the corals of Belize, the second largest reef system on earth, is a complete marvel that can never be taken for granted. The school of nine squid in perfect alignment that stared at us like transparent sentinels ,the green barracuda that floated as if in suspended animation, looking for prey. Those moments of utter awe were soul transformative not only for a child, but also for parents nurturing a young human to the ultimate reason to exist on this earth, to care for life.

Over the next few years, a battle was waged between environmentalists and those who saw dollars in the form of oil extraction in the reef. Thankfully on December 1, 2015, right after the Cop21 Paris Climate Accord, Belize made the tremendous decision to ban drilling outright -- and is working hard to restore coral. The same cannot be said for many other fragile parts of the world particularly the warming Arctic, where Russia has a near stranglehold of more than half the Arctic Ocean.

Keep reading... Show less
Youtube Screenshot

The saturation of the ranks of our police forces with far-right extremists is one of the harsh realities of American life that bubbled up during the police brutality protests of 2020 and was laid bare by the January 6 insurrection. The presence of these extremists not only is a serious security and enforcement threat—particularly when it comes to dealing with far-right violence—but has created a toxic breach between our communities and the people they hire to protect and serve them. Too often, as in Portland, the resulting police culture has bred a hostility to their communities that expresses itself in biased enforcement and a stubborn unaccountability.

Much of this originates in police training, which are the foundations of cop culture. And a recent Reuters investigative report has found that police training in America is riddled with extremists: Their survey of police training firms—35 in all—that provide training to American police authorities found five of them employ (and in some cases, are operated by) men whose politics are unmistakably of the far-right extremist variety. And these five people alone are responsible for training hundreds of American cops every year.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}