Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is scheduled to appear tonight on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon—the segment will undoubtedly be filled with attempts at self-deprecating humor, possibly a lighthearted political sketch, and softball questions involving his hair and Hillary.
The audience will laugh at all the right moments, Fallon will smile cheerfully, and Trump will come off looking like a harmless, self-aware guy who can’t be so bad, right?
Wrong. Inviting Trump on late night television is a dangerous, terrible trend, intended to boost ratings but normalizing and perpetuating the harmful ideology he spreads.
Donald Trump is unequivocally a racist, sexist, xenophobic individual, and late night television should not be supporting him in the name of “entertainment.”
Trump has appeared numerous times in the past year on various entertainment programs—The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson. In each appearance, he comes off looking innocuous and somewhat charismatic. But how can the hosts of these shows agree to make a man look good who has said things such as this?:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
On Carly Fiorina: “Look at that face!” Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not s'posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”
On Megyn Kelly: “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her…wherever.”
On Senator John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
The incredibly offensive list of things Trump has said is unending, among which he has called for a registry and database of Muslims, a ban on Muslim immigration, and support for his followers after they beat up a black man during a campaign event.
It is baffling that late night television chooses to ignore everything Trump has said, instead portraying him as mild and innocent. It’s even more surprising considering networks previously took a strong stance—after Trump’s comments about Mexico in July 2015, NBC decided it would no longer air the Trump-produced Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, stating, “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump."
They clearly recanted this statement when they allowed Trump to appear on Saturday Night Live, despite the fact that he had made dozens of “derogatory statements” after announcing his candidacy.
For politicians, appearances on late night television are intended to humanize them, to make them look funny and culturally relevant and endear them to audiences. Trump does not deserve such treatment. He has made it perfectly clear what he thinks, and if hosts like Fallon and Colbert and Kimmel do not challenge him on what he has said, they are essentially conveying to the American public that what he spouts is not a big deal.
The bigotry Trump propagates is, in fact, a very big deal, and all the cutting jokes late night hosts makes at Trump’s expense mean nothing if they are friendly with him and allow him to appear on their programs.
All of late night television needs to cut the cord with Trump—a racist has no place there.
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