"Saturday Night Live" didn't need Alec Baldwin appearing as Donald Trump to fillet the lame-duck President and one of his main media allies for bogus claims of election fraud. Instead, SNL came up with a parody sports show to make the case that Team Trump's claims are so outrageous that they're laughable.
The SNL sketch focused on Newsmax, the staunchly pro-Trump cable network that on Friday featured an anchor declaring, "it's not over," even after the US Supreme Court decision ended what was viewed as Trump's last legal option to overturn the 2020 election. The pro-Trump host wrongly claimed that the election results have "not been settled" yet in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. (In reality, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have certified their election results.)
The comedy show, though, took on much more than just the Trump-recommended Newsmax, also going after many of the fact-free claims made by Trump and his allies. The sketch began with the voiceover, "Real Americans are switching from Fox News to Newsmax because Newsmax tells them the truth: that Donald Trump could still win this election." Then came the announcement of the launch of "Sportsmax...The network for real Jets fans, giving you the truth about America's favorite football team." For those who don't follow the NFL, the New York Jets have lost all of their games played so far this season and "boast" the worst record of any team in the league. To say the Jets are awful is being kind. But on "Sportsmax," the anchors are spinning a different reality: The Jets are the biggest winners! (I'm sure you get where this is going.)
One of the anchors on faux Sportsmax began by slamming the "mainstream sports networks like ESPN" for claiming that the Jets are winless. This prompted another pro-Jets "anchor" to angrily declare, "The truth is, the Jets have already won 11 games this season!" In support, the anchor presented a graphic showing the Jets were up by three points over the Buffalo Bills at the end of the first quarter in a recent game. He added that then "something very suspicious happened," noting how suddenly the Bills scored more points in the final three quarters, concluding: "Either the Jets won three to nothing or this whole game is rigged."
This laughable claim mirrors Trump's own repeated idiocy that he won the election because he was leading at "10 o'clock" on election night, but then "very weird things happen" that led him to lose the so-called rigged election. Obviously, just like with the NY Jets versus the Bills, the winner is not the person leading a quarter of the way through the vote counting.
One of the funniest lines in the sketch took aim at Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani's claim that he has affidavits supporting Trump's claim he won. Giuliani -- who was discharged from hospital Wednesday after treatment for Covid-19 -- was on Fox News earlier Saturday claiming he possesses "1,000 affidavits from witnesses in 6 different states" that back Trump's (baseless) allegations of voter fraud.
On SNL, a so-called Jets expert, played by host Timothée Chalamet, boasted that "I have sworn affidavits from 500 Jets fans who swear they witnessed the Jets win." Chalamet then remarked, in the fashion we typically see from Trump defenders in the media who are big on passion but short on facts: "Let's look at this logically. Only a really bad team would only score three points during a football game, and the Jets are the greatest team ever...So something's not adding up here!"
But it was the words of SNL cast member Pete Davidson, who appeared as another "expert," that sounded like the type of gaslighting we've heard over and over from Trump's allies. Davidson assured the viewers that despite what the media is claiming, the Jets are going to win it all, declaring, "Long story short, the Jets are going to the Super Bowl. That's a promise."
Just hours before SNL aired, Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn -- recently pardoned in a Trump tweet after lying to the FBI -- delivered a similar message. Speaking to a pro-Trump rally in Washington D.C., Flynn told the crowd, "On a scale of one to ten, who will be the next president of the United States? I say Donald Trump. Ten. A ten." All that was missing was Flynn then yelling out, "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!"
On SNL, this is funny. In the real-world, Trump's claims of voter fraud -- that he has been unable to prove in any court in America -- are dangerous. We don't know the full extent to which Trump's lies about this election have eroded faith in our democracy. But we shouldn't have any problem believing that Trump would claim the NY Jets have already won the Super Bowl if he believed it would help him personally -- and that some of his media allies would tragically amplify that lie. That should worry all Americans who believe in our democracy.