Love him or hate him, Americans want to watch Donald Trump on television. Almost anything about Donald Trump. He doesn’t even have to be on-screen to draw American eyeballs.
On msnbc desperate Rachel Maddow had her greatest ratings night ever this week by over-hyping a year-old Wall Street Journal story on Trump’s income taxes from more than a decade ago. The two pages actually made the billionaire out to be a very successful businessman who paid a higher percentage in income tax than critics like Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama.
Ratings for the 2015-16 presidential debates showed the power of Trump’s presence, as did his non-State of the Union speech to Congress this winter. Trump’s reality Apprentice show tanked so badly on NBC this season without his over-sized personality that replacement host Arnold Schwarzenegger fired himself.
So, you’ll never guess who’s mining the Donald Trump name for viewers these days: The late-night shows that were designed as comedy in their early days decades ago with the likes of Steve Allen and Johnny Carson. Perhaps not surprisingly given today’s liberal media-showbiz culture, there is, however, a decided mean streak now to the “jokes” about Trump, his family and Cabinet.
“Nordstrom’s has dropped Ivanka Trump’s fashion line,” NBC’s Seth Meyers said, “and Auto Zone will no longer carry Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s hair grease.”
Late-night comics always poke fun at presidents. Bill Clinton’s raging libido and Trump’s often outrageous remarks provide ample fodder for parody. NBC’s aging ‘Saturday Night Live’ franchise has grasped at renewed relevance with Trump parodies, jacking ratings 20% from 2016 when the mere idea of a Trump presidency itself was a joke.
However, historically the comedic-poking zeal is always higher for Republicans like Gerald Ford, George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. Jokes about Trump’s predecessor were gentler and basically ignored his malapropisms, historical ignorance and serial ObamaCare lies.
The current late-night tone seems designed more to appeal to the 50 percent of the country that convinced itself Hillary Clinton would be the 45th president. The historic Trump upset Nov. 8 made that defeat sting all the more. So divided is the country now that many Trump supporters soak up the Trump antipathy just to revel in liberals’ pained discomfort.
NBC’s Jimmy Fallon noted recently, “President Trump actually went on Twitter to criticize Nordstrom’s for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s (clothing) line and treating her unfairly. And while Trump’s tweeting about a department store, a lot of people are wondering what the return policy is for presidents.”
Or Fallon on a presidential news conference: “Trump also discussed the recent bombshell about his staff communicating with Russia, and said he hasn’t made a phone call to Russia in years. You could tell Trump was lying, because his tie grew another three inches.”
Mocking the president’s numerous executive orders on Stephen Colbert’s CBS show, Jon Stewart wore a tie so long it dragged on the floor and announced, ““The new official language of the United States is ‘bull…..”
Or Meyers: “Rachel Maddow aired an exclusive report last night uncovering a portion of President Trump’s 2005 tax return. Specifically, the part where he claimed Ivanka and Donald Jr. as dependents and tried to write off Eric as a loss.”
Trump’s Cabinet also takes fire. “I saw that Trump left four empty chairs at his first cabinet meeting yesterday, to represent his nominees who haven’t been confirmed,” Fallon reported. “And then there was another empty chair because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos couldn’t figure out how to sit in it.”