It was, by all accounts, a rocky start for Trevor Noah at The Daily Show. The fresh-faced, relatively unknown South African comedian had been given the unenviable task of succeeding one of the great modern-day bullshit-callers in Jon Stewart—a job that half of Hollywood, from Amy Schumer to Chris Rock, turned down. And not only was Noah acclimating himself to a new culture, but he was also thrown directly into the fire, with his first stint as host occurring on Sept. 28, 2015, mere months after reality-show provocateur Donald Trump had declared his presidential candidacy with a racist anti-Mexican speech.
A little over a year later, Noah has finally hit his groove. His live Election Night broadcast exhibited genuine despair, capturing the mood of much of the nation, while his sharp deconstruction of Trump’s Twitter habits brought clarity to chaos. And on Wednesday, the bourgeoning political satirist demonstrated a knack for interviewing, going toe-to-toe with right-wing ranter Tomi Lahren—thoroughly embarrassing her in the process.
Recently, The Daily Show has aired a series called “Profiles in Tremendousness,” where Noah and his gang of “reporter”-comedians break down President-elect Trump’s frightening Cabinet picks. On Thursday, they aimed their ire at the elaborately coiffed billionaire’s choice for national security adviser: General Michael T. Flynn.
For the uninitiated, the national security adviser is: “A person who basically synthesizes information from the State Department, the Defense Department, and the intelligence agencies, and clarifies it for the president’s consumption. Basically, the gig is National Security Brita Filter: You distill and purify everything that comes through you, and you probably won’t be replaced for six years,” joked Noah.On paper, General Flynn appears a likely choice for the post. He’s received numerous awards for his military service, including the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit, and recently served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Unfortunately, he was fired from that post by President Obama after just two years for alleged incompetence.
In an email hacked off the computer of Colin Powell and subsequently released online, the retired four-star general claimed to have been told by Marine Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, the current DIA director, that: “Flynn got fired as head of DIA. His replacement is a black Marine 3-star. I asked why Flynn got fired. Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc. He has been and was right-wing nutty every [sic] since.” (Flynn is a registered Democrat.)
There’s more. General Flynn runs a company called Flynn Intel Group, which has been accused of lobbying for the Erdogan regime in Turkey, and just last year, he was paid a handsome sum to attend and deliver a speech at a lavish dinner in Moscow for RT, Russia’s propaganda network, where he was seated right next to Vladimir Putin. Also, according to The New York Times, he was known around the Pentagon for what were referred to as “Flynn Facts”: hyperbolic statements not grounded in reality. Also, he’s been accused on numerous occasions of leaking classified information—including to Pakistan.
“First of all, he leaked classified information,” said Noah on The Daily Show. “He was also one of the people going ‘lock her up,’ but I mean, that’s done now. Secondly, to be described as ‘hyperbolic statements that were not grounded in reality,’ I wonder: what does Donald Trump see in this man?”
“Flynn Facts’” greatest hits include:
1) Sharia law is spreading in the United States. (False.)
2) Iran killed more Americans than al Qaeda. (False.)
And Noah’s favorite:3) Three-quarters of all new cellphones were bought by Africans. (Incredibly false.)
“He’s like a less reliable, more xenophobic Snapple cap,” joked Noah, before throwing the reins over to The Daily Show’s Senior National Security Correspondent Hasan Minhaj. Minhaj then focused on another troubling habit of General Flynn’s: retweeting completely baseless conspiracy theories. The fiery general even once retweeted an anti-Semitic user who wrote, “Not anymore, Jews.”
“Not anymore, Jews. The only way that’s not racist is if you’re a bouncer at a bar mitzvah at full capacity. But even then, it just feels racist! Be nice!” said Minhaj.“You know, the anti-Semitism isn’t even the scariest part—it’s the fact that the president’s No. 1 intelligence guy also retweets conspiracy theories,” he added. “This guy is going to walk into the Oval Office: ‘Mr. President, we know who’s behind the shooting. It’s Tupac! He’s still alive!’”There’s also General Flynn’s unbridled Islamophobia—a matter of great concern to Minhaj, who is a Muslim American of Indian descent.
The Daily Show then aired footage of a speech that General Flynn delivered on Aug. 10, in which he stated, “Islam is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this—this notion of it being a religion… it’s like cancer.”“Damn,” sighed Minhaj. “I’ve been alive for 31 years and nobody told me I had cancer?”