On January 4 2021, several late-night show hosts took the chance to convey concern to their audiences over recent political incidents involving President Donald Trump
Referring to a recently leaked phone recording between the President and Georgia’s Secretary of State, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon introduced news of the scandal with the sarcastic quip:
“Apparently every January, Trump’s New Year’s resolution is to find a new way to get impeached”.Jimmy Fallon
During the hour-long phone conversation, the President had reasoned with election official Brad Raffensperger that, considering the size of the crowds at his rallies, his loss in Georgia had been entirely inconceivable. He suggested that there must be ‘missing’ votes to be found somewhere, and desperately urged Raffensperger to somehow “find” a mere 11,780 votes.
Incidentally, this total just so happened to be the exact number of votes needed by Trump to flip the state in his favour; a detail that was unsurprisingly not lost on Raffensperger, nor on Trump’s comical critics.
Though comedy has always maintained roots in political satire, the egregious displays of narcissism, deceit, and ignorance that have pervaded Trump’s final months as President have flooded social commentary with material that needs no satirical embellishment. While Fallon’s joke sought to mock the President and his pitiful attempt to sway the state of Georgia, the potential extortion charges which now threaten to impeach Trump for a second time offer a fitting end to his first and only term as President, and offer a public embarrassment far worse than Fallon’s satire-soaked commentary.
On the same day, Jimmy Kimmel likened Trump’s claim over the Georgia rally-to-vote ratio as a view of the election as “some kind of duelling monster truck show” and questioned whether Trump was either “stupid or drunk”. Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert had similarly joked that the insanity of the scandal could only be defined in terms of “Watergate and the Ukraine scandal [having] a baby that they made on the Access Hollywood bus”.
However, on January 6 these same hosts presented further unfolding events with a deep air of sadness and desperation for the country they were addressing.
Earlier in the evening, hundreds of Trump supporters donning red MAGA hats had gathered at the US Capitol to storm the building and form a ‘coup’. This act of terror, supported and encouraged by the President himself, has caused outrage among the American people and incited a deep sense of concern for the future legitimacy of democracy in America.
The host of the Late Late Show, James Corden, referenced the absolute hopelessness that was felt by the country as they watched the lawless mob work to demean the foundations of their constitution. Others such as Fallon took to Twitter to remind their followers that the event was “an attack on our country and on democracy…an act of terrorism – not patriotism.”.
Despite the doubtless concern and uncertainty facing the American people at this current moment, the show-hosts have urged their audiences to stand strong and come together in this difficult time. In light of such a shocking and offensive event, the instigation toward finding support in like-minded individuals motivated by these leaders in late-night television might just be the one saving grace in this historically catastrophic situation.
Words by Hattie Banfield
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