Donald Trump issued a statement denying a report in The Daily Beast that he was so upset over his portrayal on Saturday Night Live that he inquired with advisers whether the Justice Department or the FCC could take action.
In a statement, the former president said, “The story that I asked the Department of Justice to go after ratings challenged (without Trump) Saturday Night Live, and other late night losers, is total Fake News. It was fabricated, there were no sources, and yet the Lamestream Media goes with it.”
The Daily Beast didn’t go as far as reporting that Trump asked the DOJ to go after SNL but that the then-president asked about it. The Beast cited two unnamed sources in reporting that in 2019, Trump asked advisers and lawyers whether the government entities “could do to probe or mitigate SNL, Jimmy Kimmel, and other late-night comedy mischief-makers.”
Trump’s upset with the show and other late-night comics was no secret. Around the time, he tweeted, “It’s truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over &, over, without so much of a mention of ‘the other side.’ Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows. Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this?”
As he had done before, Trump appeared to be referring to the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to present balanced points of view. But the Fairness Doctrine was abandoned in the 1980s. Ironically, the FCC’s existing Equal Time Rule, which requires stations to give candidates equal airtime on non-news programming, forced some NBC outlets to give other GOP hopefuls airtime when Trump hosted SNL in 2015.
In his statement, Trump also blasted Alec Baldwin, who portrayed him on SNL, as “no talent, certainly when it comes to imitating me. The one who had what it took was Darrell Hammond.”
Trump also said that the late-night shows were one-sided and “should be considered an illegal campaign contribution from the Democrat Party.” Capitalizing on the attention that the SNL story is getting, Trump also reiterated his unfounded claims of election fraud and added the phrase, “2024 or before!” The latter is a reference to claims swirling through right-wing media that Trump somehow will be reinstated to the White House.