This article is written from a democratic point of view.
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
Hover to Expand
Perhaps this, above all, speaks to just how much the presidency has begun to weigh on Donald Trump.
Trump has gone from–at least looking the part of–a media-savvy TV star on his own network series rubbing elbows and dispensing business acumen with Hollywood B-listers, to a nearly incomprehensible and media-illiterate old man.
All within a few short years.
When Trump first ran for president, much of what propelled him was this built-in appeal he had from the years at the head of his own reality series, Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice. It was the persona from those series, which came into American living rooms for more than a decade, which gave millions of American voters the sense that they knew this man. Trump projected a figure on those series as a strong wheeler-dealer, with his macho tough-guy catchphrase, “You’re fired!”
Trump was even awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his efforts.
Meanwhile, the network which broadcast Trump’s series, NBC, is also home to the long-running sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live.
Like Trump himself, SNL is very much identified with New York, as it is produced and shot live from NBC’s Rockefeller Center each week. In fact, the flamboyant real-estate developer guest-hosted the show for the first time in 2004. He would return for a second–and much more controversial–go as guest-host as a presidential candidate in 2015. (Activists protested outside as Trump hosted the show inside.)
One of SNL’s longest-standing traditions since it first hit the airwaves in 1975 has been to parody, satire and generally poke good fun at whoever happens to be president of the United States.
And that satire has always been bipartisan. Democrat or Republican, no occupant of the Oval Office has been immune.
It began nearly 45 years ago with comedian Chevy Chase impersonating Jerry Ford. Chase didn’t even bother to look like Ford. He would just stumble and fall down, and immediately, people knew it was the 38th president.
The costumes and impersonations would get more clever and complex over the years.
Sometimes the presidents would even play along.
Ford had the good humor to actually go on the program himself for laughs.
And the recently departed George HW Bush had the class, after he lost the 1992 election, to invite Dana Carvey–the comedian who had been doing the Bush impersonations on SNL–to the White House for some fun.
So it would go to figure that Trump–President Hollywood himself, right?–would be the first one to want to play along.
Actor Alec Baldwin has been getting headlines ever since he took on the Trump persona on Saturday Night Live at the advent of the Trump administration.
Then last December, Trump–a two-time SNL host himself–snapped.
In a series of incoherent tweets, he threatened to sue the series over a Christmas-themed so-called cold-open skit on the sketch comedy program which was essentially a parody of the Jimmy Stewart holiday classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, except in the SNL version it imagines a world in which Trump was never elected president. Hilarity ensues from there.
In his tweets raging about SNL, Trump complained about too much “one-sided coverage,” and further raged against “unfair news coverage.”
How could anyone–much less a former host himself–confuse a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch—obviously with actors playing parts–with a network news report of any kind?
Now, another more recent, Saturday Night Live skit seems to have tweaked Trump, as now he tweeted menacingly that SNL “should be looked in to.”
So much for Trump understanding how these celebrity things are supposed to work.
At the very least, if he really is this much of a media hick, somebody needs to take back that star on the Walk of Fame.