Last week, Jimmy Fallon had Donald Trump on his show. As is his wont, he didn’t press Trump on any real issues, but mostly joked around and chatted.
Apparently, this is no longer acceptable:
On Monday’s Full Frontal, Bee called out her fellow late-night host Fallon for his widely-panned softball interview with Donald Trump.
“Why do so many Americans think playing footsie with fringe hate groups isn’t a disqualifier from polite society, much less the presidency?” Bee asked. “Maybe because that’s the message they get from entertainment giants like NBC,” she said, referencing how they fostered Trump’s image through The Celebrity Apprentice.
She said the network “tacitly condoned a race-baiting demagogue” even after they claimed to “sever ties” with him following his presidential campaign announcement. “If by severing ties, you mean inviting him on their flagship comedy programs to show millions of Americans what a fun guy he is.
Why did Trump host Saturday Night Live last fall? “I guess because ratings matter more than brown people,” Bee said. “Sure, he’s making life palpably dangerous for Muslims and immigrants, but hey, he’s good entertainment! Here’s a thought: when Holocaust survivors are telling you this guy gives me déjà vu, maybe don’t invite him up into your house to play with your adorable children.”
I guess “ratings matter more than brown people” might resonate with Bee, whose show is typically pulling in a bit under 700,000 viewers a night, placing her almost dead last in the late night derby. She’s drawing a fraction of the audience Fallon is and an even smaller fraction of the audience John Oliver is drawing on a pay cable channel. But sure, Sam. I’m sure the problem is how much you value brown people. We just don’t get you.
The thing is, this taps into something very important. Part of the appeal of Trump is precisely that he drives liberals crazy. In the Second Age of Political Correctness, there is a tendency for people, even young people, to stampede toward something different. Ross Douthat:
But the Democratic Party’s problem in the age of Trump isn’t really Jimmy Fallon. Its problem is Samantha Bee.
Not Bee alone, of course, but the entire phenomenon that she embodies: the rapid colonization of new cultural territory by an ascendant social liberalism.
The culture industry has always tilted leftward, but the swing toward social liberalism among younger Americans and the simultaneous surge of activist energy on the left have created a new dynamic, in which areas once considered relatively apolitical now have (or are being pushed to have) an overtly left-wing party line.
In late-night television, it was once understood that David Letterman was beloved by coastal liberals and Jay Leno more of a Middle American taste. But neither man was prone to delivering hectoring monologues in the style of the “Daily Show” alums who now dominate late night. Fallon’s apolitical shtick increasingly makes him an outlier among his peers, many of whom are less comics than propagandists — liberal “explanatory journalists” with laugh lines.
As Douthat goes on to point out, it’s not just late night television. Everything has becomes politicized. Awards shows, sporting events, movies, you name it. If you’re culturally conservative or just not down with latest in political correctness, you can’t turn on the TV or bring up a web page without some smarmy Lefty telling you, in condescending tones, how stupid and backward you are. Hell, I’m socially liberal and it annoys the hell out me.
(It must be said, Bee is actually one of the worst at this. I liked her on the Daily Show but her new show is unwatchable. I’m used to liberal late night hosts but Bee combines the idiocy of Bill Maher and the charm of Hillary Clinton. She says the kind of things that make smug liberals cheer — hence the frequent links from Vox — but make everyone else change the channel.)
Returning to Douthat, he argues that the monolithic cultural landscape has given the Democrats the illusion that they’ve triumphed and caused them to surge hard left. And at the same time, it has made conservatives feel like they are under siege. And we’re seeing a response culminating in the rise of Donald Trump. And that in turn is making the Lefties hysterical. Hillary Clinton is still favored to win the election, but, to listen to Democrats, you would think the apocalypse is upon us because the race has gotten very tight.
Note where Clinton is hemorrhaging support — young people. They are stampeding not just to Donald Trump but also to Gary Johnson. Why? Well, on Twitter, Robby Soave linked to his article that details how much young people dislike the current push toward political correctness and smarmy liberal self-worship. With the Left now establishing a cultural hegemony in entertainment and academia, being liberal isn’t an act of rebellion; it’s an act of conformity.
I despise this notion that everything in our society has to have a political context. This is an idea that originated with the Marxists. It was disgusting when it slithered into public consciousness and it’s disgusting now. As I’ve said over and over again, Donald Trump is not Hitler. He’s a venal, lying dumpster fire who has no business near the White House. But he is not so evil that everything in our culture must be requisitioned to oppose him. Jimmy Fallon (and SNL) decided to keep the politics out of their entertainment. I think our culture would be a darn sight better off if more people followed their example. And to judge by how thoroughly Fallon is stomping Bee in the ratings, most people agree.