Samantha Bee, our queen of biting political criticism, refused to let Donald Trump and NBC off the hook in her newest episode of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee last night.
As Election Day draws closer, we keep asking ourselves "how the fuck did we end up with such a terrible presidential candidate like Donald Trump?" Samantha Bee had a great answer: blame the media’s excessive coverage of Trump’s campaign for normalizing racist rhetoric in a quest for ratings.
The cable network put on blast this week was NBC for, as Bee puts it, “nurturing Trump celebrity." Originally the network that aired Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, NBC had supposedly cut ties with Trump after he called Mexicans “rapists” back in 2015, but Samantha points out that this gesture was absolute bullshit.
Since the supposed split, Trump has appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show twice and even hosted Saturday Night Live. His most recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s show made a lot of people angry — and understandably so. Fallon’s conversation with the candidate was kept lighthearted, with questions about board games and Trump's childhood home — even mussing Trump's hair at one point — and just like that all of the broken shards of blatant racism, misogyny, and encouragements of violence were casually swept under the rug.
“Network execs and a lot of their audience can ignore how very dangerous Trump is because to them, he isn’t!” Bee explains: “They’re not going to be deported. They're not gonna live under a president that thinks of them as sex toys. They’re not racist, they just don’t mind if other people are, which is just as bad.”
We already know Trump’s terrible, but the perpetual media coverage of every single awful statement Trump's made has given his messages of hate a mainstream megaphone. Hours upon hours of coverage have been devoted to unpacking all of the shit he’s said, with numerous panels of experts are brought on-air to squabble over just a couple of sentences. All that really should be said is: “Ok, he’s terrible and these inflammatory comments can really hurt people” then the news cycle moves on to more important issues. But Trump rakes in the ratings like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a terrible symbiotic relationship that feeds Trump more power while networks make millions. If TV networks like NBC were in fact so committed to taking a stand against hate speech and racist violence, they would deny Trump the coverage that he needs to succeed. Bee sums it up beautifully: “Sure he’s making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants but hey, he’s good entertainment!"
Nothing sums up Bee’s points of media coddling quite like Trump’s most recent “scam” - a promise of a big birther announcement. To sum it up, the "birther" movement is a radical right-wing fringe movement that has been gathering traction ever since Obama was sworn into office. Clearly motivated by racist thinking, birthers continue to push the idea that Obama was not born in the U.S. and that his official birth certificate was faked somehow (???). It’s been one of Trump’s major talking points for years so of course, every major news outlet sprung at the chance to cover this event.
As CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC live-streamed the event, Trump used this national media attention to do everything but make the actual announcement. Bee shows us clips of Trump repeatedly promoting his new hotel, the very one the press conference is taking place in. Then, Trump brought out numerous veterans to talk about what a great hero he is — although he couldn’t even make it to his own conference on time.
Eventually, the news outlets, even Fox News, got annoyed with the fact that they’ve been conned. Are we surprised? Not really, but it's funny to watch reporters' reactions after they realize they’ve been swindled out of a ratings boost. Finally, after hours of baiting and self-promotion, Trump spoke — for a whopping two minutes.
"Oh fuck you!” Bee quips, “A decade of racist conspiracy-mongering brushed off in a 32-word statement that contained two lies and a half-hearted disavowal of an old lie,” She breaks it down faster than a couple of bickering news anchors. “The only word that is not problematic is ‘period’ which Trump probably shouldn’t be emphasizing given his history with women.”
Oh Samantha Bee, where would we be without you? Thank you for keeping us sane during this absurd election season.
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee Airs on Monday Nights On TBS
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