In the opening moments of this week’s “Saturday Night Live,” it seemed that for the first time in weeks, the show was going to begin with jokes about something other than politics.
The viewers see a high school classroom, where a teacher (Aidy Bryant) is lecturing on Faulkner. She’s interrupted by a noise coming from a student’s phone.
“Seth, I thought I told you to turn off your phone,” the teacher says.
The student (Pete Davidson) apologizes; someone retweeted him, he explains.
“Seth, you’re just some random kid in high school,” the teacher scolds. “Who would retweet you?”
The screen cuts to Trump Tower, where – you guessed it – President-elect Trump is retweeting the high schooler instead of listening to a security briefing on Syria.
The five-minute sketch hammers on Trump for spending his time tweeting and retweeting instead of preparing to govern. Trump has continued to use his Twitter account as he did during the campaign: airing his grievances, attracting media attention and highlighting people who agree with him. He’s sent more than 100 tweets since being elected.
Before the episode of “Saturday Night Live” ended, he sent another:
“Just tried watching Saturday Night Live — unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse. Sad”
“SNL” has a tradition of mocking presidents, but it appears Trump will be the first commander-in-chief who mocks them back.
In the final months before the election, Trump called the show “boring” and “unfunny,” and said Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him “stinks.” Some might have expected these retorts to cease after Trump won the presidency. But when “SNL” returned last week, Trump still snapped back:
“I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show — nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?”
Is this going to be a weekly tradition?
You might expect Trump to stop tuning in to a show he believes is “unwatchable.” But Trump has previously used that insult against CNN, Fox’s Megyn Kelly and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” – programs he continues to watch and respond to.
Trump feels a need to hear for himself what people are saying about him. As The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson reported this week, he still regularly watches cable television, and often bases his decisions on what he sees. It’s common for his advisers to attempt to sway his opinion by expressing their views on TV, knowing he will watch and hear them.
“SNL” portrayals are a far cry from the flattery Trump prefers, but it appears that he still cares what they have to say about him.
There is one condition under which Alec Baldwin would end his caricature of Trump. The actor responded to to Trump’s insults Saturday night with his own tweet:
“Release your tax returns,” Baldwin wrote. “And I’ll stop. Ha.”