This week, the news broke that President-elect Donald Trump will remain an executive producer and profit participant on the NBC reality series The Apprentice while serving in office. Trump is reported to have regularly harassed contestants on the show, referring to the deaf Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin as “retarded” and calling rapper Lil Jon an “Uncle Tom.” He was also caught on video by the network bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy”—an offense they deemed appalling enough to fire his hot mic accomplice, Billy Bush, but apparently not enough to cut professional ties with the actual sexual assault braggart. So, in an unprecedented move, NBC will keep the president-elect on its payroll while contracting companies to run ads on his program and tasking its news division with providing unbiased coverage of their business partner.
It’s enough to raise a few eyebrows. NBC is, after all, the network that went to great pains to normalize candidate Trump, from granting him Saturday Night Live hosting duties to having Jimmy Fallon ruffle his hair on The Tonight Show to letting Matt Lauer lob him softballs during their Commander-in-Chief Forum. And it’s enough to question exactly what the network is doing when they attempt to parody President-elect Trump on Saturday Night Live. Yes, Alec Baldwin is a long-time Democrat and outspoken critic of Trump’s, but are these lampooning efforts ultimately in vain, portraying Trump as the lovable buffoon a la Will Ferrell with George W. Bush?
Nevertheless, Saturday Night Live returned this week to poke fun at its network-mate. The program opened with a sketch depicting CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, as the host interviewed Trump Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway—played by the inimitable Kate McKinnon—about the president-elect’s head-scratching cabinet picks. These include Trump nominating Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA, even though he’s a “fossil fuel advocate that doesn’t believe in climate change,” and Carl’s Jr. CEO Andy Puzder as Secretary of Labor, despite the fact that he opposes a federal minimum wage.
“Kellyanne, it’s almost like Mr. Trump appoints these people specifically to undermine the very agencies they head. Are these bad picks?” asks SNL’s Tapper. “No, Jake, they are not bad,” replies Conway. “They are alt-good.”
Then comes a bit of breaking news: that President-elect Trump has nominated as head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) “a high school science teacher from New Mexico by the name of Walter White.” Cue actor Bryan Cranston as White—beige jacket, green shirt, spectacles, pork pie hat and all.
Conway mentions to Tapper how White was “highly recommended by Steve Bannon,” the president-elect’s chief strategist—as well as an alleged white nationalist and former CEO of the “alt-right” publication Breitbart. You see, White says he met Bannon “under the comments section at Breibart,” and that he was “pretty surprised he tracked me down because I’ve been off the grid for a while.” “I know the DEA better than anyone—inside and out,” he adds.
The TV meth kingpin also claims he’s a fan of Trump’s. “I like his style. He acts first, and then asks questions later. I also like that wall he wants to build. Nothing comes in from Mexico, which means a lot less competition for the rest of us,” he says.
Plus, as Conway mentions, White is a supporter of small businesses. “Oh, absolutely. Donald Trump and I agree: It’s time to make America cook again,” says White. “We want to fill this nation with red, white, and a whole lot of blue.
God help us all.