“Saturday Night Live” has been a staple of comedy on TV since its inception in 1975. It has been a revolving door of some of the most legendary comedians over the years, is a rite of passage for upcoming stars in the business to host, and is a de facto home for many comedic greats.
In recent weeks, SNL and NBC have received criticism from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, calling the weekly skits that parody the presidential debates between him and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton a “hit job” on his image, and saying that actor Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him “stinks.”
Parodying debates is by no means new territory for SNL. The cast has performed parodies of presidential debates since 2000, when Al Gore and George W. Bush were running.
The show has always followed the same formula: caricatures of the candidates bringing levity to often intense elections; however, Trump has called this another example of the mainstream media trying to rig the election against him.
From one perspective, you may be able to see where Trump is coming from: SNL has been rather kind to Clinton, often showing her portrayer, Kate McKinnon, celebrating, dancing, cracking jokes and applauding when Baldwin delivers a line that Trump has gotten in hot water for saying. When watching, it seems like SNL writers go after Trump five times for every one of Clinton’s mishaps that is brought up.
Whether there is a legitimate gripe or not, the bigger issue seems to be that Trump is reacting to it at all.
He has spent a large part of the past couple weeks claiming that the election is being rigged against him, citing democratic corruption, voter fraud issues, media bias and even opposition in the Republican party as the various forces against him.
The problem with this argument is, while SNL has a large audience, it simply is not a news source that is expected to offer unbiased information. McKinnon, dressed as Clinton, dancing on stage and taking drinks out of a Champagne bottle is evidence enough.
Trump, who has been in the entertainment business for a large portion of his life, should be used to the criticism and mockery that comes with being a public figure.
The biggest issue is that this is somebody who is running for president. If he were to win, everything he says will be spun negatively on at least half of American cable news networks.
The last thing Trump should worry about is SNL using him as a punchline.
Nicholas Hunter is a columnist, contact him at [email protected]