If President Donald Trump wanted to distract from his party’s failing health care proposals and the war he’s waging against his own attorney general by announcing Wednesday morning a reinstated ban on transgender personnel serving the U.S. military, then it seems to be working on the media. And that includes late-night TV.
Chelsea Handler was first out of the gate on Wednesday with a short clip that will air as part of her Netflix talk show on Friday. “To everyone in the transgender community, I am sorry that the man who’s never served in the military a day in his life is denying you the right to serve your country,” she said into the camera. “Thank you for your service, and thank you for your bravery.”
Her message to the Republican Party was even more direct: “Grow a fucking spine!”
After declaring that Trump’s Twitter proclamation was “total B.S.,” The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah systematically dismantled each part of the three tweets the president sent out Wednesday morning, from his assertion that he “consulted” his generals when the Pentagon seemed unaware of the decision to the “tremendous medical costs” he claimed the military would face.
“Just so we’re on the same page, transgender-related medical expenses for the military cost, at most, $8 million a year,” Noah said. That’s 0.001 percent of the total annual defense budget.
“I know some people were surprised by the president’s order this morning, but maybe we shouldn’t be,” he added. “Because even though Trump always claimed he was for LGBTQ rights, he never seemed fully comfortable in that identity.” Cut to a montage of Trump struggling to get those letters to come out of his mouth.
“Yeah, Donald Trump said he would protect L-G-B-T-Q citizens,” Noah said, imitating his stilted delivery. “And actually, considering how many wars he’s going to start, maybe he just did.”
Stephen Colbert, who put out a tweet that “fixed” one of Trump’s many pro-LGBT campaign messages, turned more serious in his opening monologue. The Late Show host said he began his day on Wednesday as he often does, by checking Trump’s Twitter feed “to see how far the crazy has spread.” And on Wednesday, he said, “I really think he’s off his meds.”
“Today, he went from crazy to cruel,” Colbert said, before reading aloud Trump’s series of tweets on the matter, which ended with “Thank you.”
“‘Thank you?’” Colbert asked. “Fuck you.”
Samantha Bee made the same profane joke, if that’s what you want to call it, during the first segment of her show Wednesday night.
“Look, I know you don’t know or care how government works. I mean, that has been abundantly clear,” Bee said on Full Frontal. But we don’t make bullshit, discriminatory laws on Twitter. That’s what Congress is for!”
“Firing thousands of active duty service members in the middle of the big push against ISIS was Trump’s version of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” the host added. “He didn’t ask anyone and he didn’t tell anyone he was going to do it.”
While Jimmy Fallon declined to express his own opinion on the matter, he did take the commendable approach of inviting trans comedian Patti Harrison on The Tonight Show to offer her thoughts.
“As a trans person, it’s hard to articulate exactly how I feel,” she said. “But I guess if I had to describe it, I’d say, Donald, you’re so stupid. You are sooo stupid. You’re lucky you’re so hot.”
Harrison said she was “shocked” to hear Trump had banned transgender people in the military, “because I assumed he already did that.” While she said she doesn’t necessarily want to serve in the military herself, she wants the “right” to serve, she said. “You know, it’s like I don’t want to go to your baby shower, but I want the invite.”
“Trump says transgender people in the military would be a tremendous disruption,” she added. “And I get it. If you constantly draw attention to yourself, spend all day distracting everyone and cost taxpayers millions of dollars, the perfect job for you isn’t the military, it’s the president of the United States.