It’s not really news that NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” likes to take serious aim at Republican presidents and conservative politicians, so it’s little surprise that Alec Baldwin’s impression of President Trump has gotten serious play on the last few seasons of the show.
When Baldwin reprises his role as the president, it’s not — I repeat, it is not — news. It is not news that Baldwin’s impersonation has kept the actor, otherwise famous for starring in “30 Rock” and appalling messages on his daughter’s voicemail, off of the Hollywood unemployment line.
And you know what else shouldn’t be reported as actual news? What he says in his role as the president. Yet, multiple mainstream media outlets are treating something that came out of Baldwin’s mouth on Saturday night as seriously as if the actual president said it.
Both The Wrap and The Daily Beast covered one quote in Baldwin’s latest appearance as Trump as if it were actual news. They were far from the only ones, as Time magazine, Rolling Stone, HuffPost and many, many other outlets also devoted time to covering what Baldwin said in the skit.
“Here is the thing that no one else is saying and I’m the only one who’s willing to actually say this,” Baldwin’s Trump said Saturday.
“I don’t care about America, OK? This whole presidency is a 4-year cash grab and admitting that will probably get me 4 more years, but I do not care about any of you.”
“Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump opened up the first new ‘SNL’ episode in three weeks with a speed-run through recent Trump-news, with Baldwin as POTUS reading a prepared statement specifically to prove that yes, the president can read,” The Wrap’s Phil Hornshaw wrote.
“Baldwin’s Trump met with leaders of the Baltic states for a press conference, but even as the event started, Trump was eager to leave. ‘Let’s make this quick because I’ve got more trade wars to escalate,’ he said. ‘That’s why I added more tariffs on things like fireworks and finger traps.’”
Hee-larious! And totes news, right guys? I mean, there’s been another reported gas attack in Syria and 15 members of a Canadian high school hockey team just died in a horrific bus crash, but let’s please talk about what the fake president said because that’s news.
In fairness, The Wrap is an entertainment website. In spite of the fact that it’s named after a fictional tabloid of dubious ethics featured in Evelyn Waugh’s novel “Scoop,” The Daily Beast is supposed to be an actual news site. Surely they put this in perspective, right?
Well, let’s start with the headline: “SNL: Alec Baldwin’s Trump Admits ‘I Don’t Care About America.'” No, he didn’t “admit” anything. He acted it. It’s called acting. There were no “admissions” made live from New York on Saturday night.
“This week’s Saturday Night Live opened with a special news alert from President Donald Trump’s favorite news network,” Matt Wilstein’s article read.
“‘Outnumbered is the title of the show, and also how I feel here at Fox News,’ Leslie Jones, as host Harris Faulkner, said at the top of the sketch before tossing to Alec Baldwin’s Trump, who was holding his press conference with Baltic leaders.”
See, it’s funny because both Leslie Jones and Harris Faulkner are black and Fox News is racist, so she’s outnumbered! Get it? Ho, ho, ho! Boy, they sure do apply that touch of wit quite lightly at The Daily Beast.
Wilstein also worked in more Baldwin-as-Trump quotes that were apparently newsworthy, including this one: “First up, a big congratulations to Vladimir Putin. He won a great, great, very transparent victory in the Russian election. Fantastic job, Putin. Even though no one has ever been tougher on Russia than I am, including Hitler.”
See, he’s controlled by Russia and he’s a secret Nazi, too! It’s totally funny, it’s totally true and it’s totally news! Or not.
There is nothing in the coverage of this transparent pseudo-event that makes it actual news. It’s also no coincidence that this is covered in the same breathless way that the other most infamous SNL impression of the last 10 years — Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin — has been covered. In both cases, the media treats the impression as if it actually has some influence on the polity at large.
That may have worked with Palin, but given that Baldwin’s Trump appeared long before he was elected, whatever influence it may have had clearly didn’t work in any electoral sense. This fact apparently won’t stop anyone in the media from believing that it does, though — and reporting it in exactly that way.
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