Remember last week when Jimmy Fallon was roundly criticized for going soft on Donald Trump? The late night host not only lobbed softball questions at the Republican nominee, he literally tousled his hair.
Well, Fallon’s former SNL colleague took a decidedly different approach on his own late night show, which airs after Fallon on NBC. Meyers used a nearly nine-minute segment to deconstruct Trump’s attempt to punt the “birther” controversy over to Hillary Clinton, not only washing his hands of years of racist claims but literally blaming his White House rival for starting the whole thing.
Say what you about Trump, but his performance during that press conference was masterful, conning the media into covering the unveiling of his new Washington, DC hotel and introducing a long list of military veteran supporters before finally issuing a one-sentence statement finally acknowledging that President Obama was born in America.
And Meyers gave Trump credit for causing this “daily existential crisis” in the media but then turned his fire on the candidate himself:
“Obama was born in the United States. Period? F*** you, exclamation point. You don’t get to peddle racist rhetoric for five years and decide when it’s over,” Meyers said, drawing hoots and applause from his live studio audience.
“Obama wasn’t born here is your number one hit,” he continued. “Saying you got it from Hillary would be like Springsteen saying he only wrote ‘Born to Run’ because he heard Bon Jovi say it once.”
Meyers went on to challenge the notion that Trump is even qualified to make a factual statement about Obama to begin with:
“I’m not sure the guy who holds fake press conferences, has a fake university, a fake foundation, fake hair and a fake tan should be the one in charge of deciding what’s real,” he said.
Meyers also blasted the Republican Party for creating an environment where birtherism was enabled and allowed to thrive for years. And for his final shot, Meyers decided to cut through the arguments of those who want to cut Trump slack, saying this is all an act, part of his larger persona created simply for a campaign platform. No, Meyers said this is the real Donald Trump and that’s the disturbing reality.
“Trump built his career on a racist lie because he is a racist and a liar,” he said.
For those of you missing Jon Stewart during this election, it was a nice reminder of how even big network late night hosts can challenge people in positions of power without alienating their audience. In fact, we may thank them for it.