Saturday Night Live roasted President Donald Trump this weekend in a scathing skit mocking his performance in a news conference announcing the declaration a national emergency in order to secure funding for his signature border wall, USA Today reports.
The skit, which featured SNL regular Alec Baldwin reprising his ongoing role as President Trump, touched on a number of topics sensitive to the president and generally made light of what many considered to be a bewildering news conference announcing the emergency declaration. Based loosely on the actual news conference, Baldwin’s Trump touched on many of the talking points used by the real president, while riffing on certain themes. At one point, as Baldwin described the likely challenges to the emergency declaration that would end in the Supreme Court, he added the need to call recently-appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, noting “It’s time to repay the Donny!”
The president was not amused.
“Nothing funny about tired ‘Saturday Night Live’ on Fake News NBC!” he tweeted following the episode. “Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into. This is the real Collusion!”
Minutes later, Trump followed up with another tweet.
“THE RIGGED AND CORRUPT MEDIA IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” he added.
A number of pundits, commentators, and first amendment advocates were quick to pile on to president’s statements, decrying them as unpresidential at best and unconstitutional at worst.
Congressman Ted Lieu of California weighed in, opining that one thing that makes America great is our right to laugh at the president without retribution.
Others pointed to Trump’s ongoing “enemy of the people” remarks as contributing to an increase in violence directed towards members of the media, citing recent examples including an assault on a BBC cameraman at a Trump rally and the failed pipe bomb plot orchestrated by a man whose van was plastered in pro-Trump material.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) February 17, 2019
Journalist Sulome Anderson made the case for the importance of irreverent satire like Saturday Night Live in a healthy democracy, going so far as to say that such comedy can help protect against totalitarianism and authoritarianism.
“There’s a long history of authoritarian leaders targeting satirists for ‘retribution, and this is probably why,” she tweeted in response to the president’s remarks. “It’s hard to feel the power they crave when people are laughing at them, so their impulse is to turn the laughter into fear.”