‘Adult Content, Child Language, Brief Stupidity’
With most of late night taking the week off, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers stayed busy with what President Trump has been up to — notably an interview on “Axios on HBO,” in which Trump fared poorly under questioning by the Australian reporter Jonathan Swan. Fallon said it “was so bad it made his coronavirus briefings look good.”
“If you don’t know Jonathan Swan, he’s an Australian reporter, which is fun because we got to see a Trump interview go down the drain in the opposite direction.” — JIMMY FALLON
“The interview was such a disaster, at one point FEMA showed up and wrapped Trump in a foil blanket.” — JIMMY FALLON
“In a new interview, President Trump said the coronavirus pandemic is, quote, ‘under control as much as you can control it.’ What? You’re not controlling it at all. You’re handling the pandemic the way parents handle a third child: ‘Eh, gotta get tired eventually. Just, uh, just turn the TV up.’” — SETH MEYERS
“When asked in a new interview how history will remember late civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, President Trump said he did not know because he doesn’t know John Lewis. I guess in the same way Republicans suddenly won’t know Trump after Nov. 4.” — SETH MEYERS
“Trump did so poorly the only HBO interview he’ll do now is Elmo’s late-night talk show.” — JIMMY FALLON
“That’s right, the interview was on HBO, which is why beforehand they showed this graphic: ‘Adult content, child language, brief stupidity.’” — JIMMY FALLON
The Punchiest Punchlines (F.D.R. Edition)
“In the same interview, President Trump said the coronavirus death toll, quote, ‘is what it is.’ God, he’s like the last-resort friend you confide in during a breakup. [imitating Trump] Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, it’s sad, it’s sad but it, uh — it is what it is. Can we get back to me?” — SETH MEYERS
“‘It is what it is’? You’re the president of the United States, you’re not Paulie Walnuts delivering bad news to Tony Soprano.” — JIMMY FALLON
“Yep, move over, MAGA, we’ve got a new hat on the market.” — JIMMY FALLON
“That reminds me of the moment after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when F.D.R. said, ‘Eh, what are you going to do?’” — JIMMY FALLON
Like ‘a Group Text to Bail on Happy Hour’
Trailing badly in the polls, President Trump on Thursday floated the idea of postponing the election (which he can’t do), claiming on Twitter that voting by mail would cause major problems (for which there’s no evidence).
“It’s the presidential election. It’s not the release date for ‘Bill & Ted 3,’” Jimmy Fallon said on “The Tonight Show.” He compared Trump to “that friend who’s been crashing at your house for a while but keeps dropping hints he might need some more time.”
“If he can’t deny it, pretty soon he’ll be like, [as Trump] ‘Republicans should all vote on Nov. 3, but we’ll have Democrats vote at a later date T.B.D.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“Americans were like, ‘How long a delay are we talking about here? Months, like your response to Covid? Years, like your response to Putin? Or decades, like a hug for Don Jr.? Just give us a hint.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“I’m not even sure that Trump understands what an alarming proposal this is. Because this is basically the move of a dictator. Trump is just casually throwing it out there with a tweet with a bunch of question marks, like he’s in a group text to bail on happy hour. [as Trump] ‘Hey, y’all, Nov. 3rd’s not great for me — maybe we reschedule to 2021?” — TREVOR NOAH
“And by the way, media, yes, there are some Republicans saying the election will happen on time. Stop giving them credit for that. That’s not a courageous stand. It’s just the bare minimum. Just because the bar is all the way on the floor doesn’t mean we have to give them credit for stepping over it. It’s like if your burnout son gets an ‘F’ on a history final and you say, ‘Look who showed up and took the test. I’m so proud of you, Scooch!’” — SETH MEYERS
The Punchiest Punchlines (JetBlue Edition)
“So with the economy in crisis mode and deaths continuing to soar, obviously this is all bad for President Trump’s re-election hopes. And today, Trump came up with a brilliant new strategy for the election: Just don’t have one.” — TREVOR NOAH
“President Trump on Twitter this morning suggested postponing November’s presidential election, but just until the Republican Party can find a viable candidate.” — SETH MEYERS
“That’s right, Trump isn’t actually allowed to delay the election. Although not being allowed to do something has never stopped him before.” — TREVOR NOAH
“No, he can’t reschedule the election. For starters, both candidates are like 200 years old — I mean, we gotta keep things moving.” — TREVOR NOAH
“When they saw Trump’s tweet, JetBlue was like, ‘Trust us — when he says delayed, he means canceled.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“We’ll still have the election on Nov. 3, but he’ll probably just add a hundred days to August. And sure, maybe the court overturns it, but that might not happen until August 73rd.” — TREVOR NOAH
After a Republican lawmaker referred to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez using a sexist vulgarity, she took to the House floor to denounce the abuse faced by women in Congress and across the nation.
WASHINGTON — Ever since Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to Congress as the youngest woman elected to the House, she has upended traditions, harnessing the power of social media and challenging leaders, including President Trump, who are 50 years her senior.
On Thursday, she had her most norm-shattering moment yet when she took to the House floor to read into the Congressional Record a sexist vulgarity that Representative Ted Yoho, a Florida Republican, had used to refer to her.
“In front of reporters, Representative Yoho called me, and I quote: ‘A fucking bitch,’” she said, punching each syllable in the vulgarity. “These are the words Representative Yoho levied against a congresswoman.”
Then Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who excels at using her detractors to amplify her own political brand, invited a group of Democratic women in the House to come forward to express solidarity with her. One by one, they shared their own stories of harassment and mistreatment by men, including in Congress. More even than the profanity uttered on the House floor, where language is carefully regulated, what unfolded over the next hour was a remarkable moment of cultural upheaval on Capitol Hill.
President Trump, in a Fox News interview on Wednesday, discussed the results of a recent cognitive assessment. The president gave the interviewer, Dr. Marc K. Siegel, an example of a question that tests patients’ memory. “It’s, like, you’ll go: Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV. So they say, ‘Could you repeat that?’ So it’s: Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.’”
“It was impressive until they asked Trump what he ate for lunch that day and he said, ‘Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV,’” Jimmy Fallon joked on “The Tonight Show” Thursday.
“What is he doing? He sounds like someone playing charades after pounding chardonnay.” — JIMMY FALLON
“It’s not an intelligence test. In fact, getting a perfect score merely signifies that the test taker probably does not have a cognitive impairment. I’m going to need something stronger than ‘probably’ for the person who has the nuclear codes. Wait, unless those are the nuclear codes.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“You know, I actually feel a lot better knowing that the president of the United States passed concussion protocol.” — JIMMY FALLON
“Donald Trump is the only person who can talk about a cognitive test but make me feel like I have brain damage.” — TREVOR NOAH
“He’s gone from bragging about his historic Electoral College win to boasting that he can solve the puzzle in a happy meal. In fact, I almost feel like obsessing over a dementia test you took two years ago is the real dementia test.” — TREVOR NOAH
“See, he’s been harping for weeks now about this cognitive test he took, and just to remind you, it’s not a hard test. It includes questions like ‘Name these animals.’ [Imitating Trump] ‘Well, that’s easy. I’ll call the first one Corey. The second one I will call Lance. And the last one — Corey Two.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“Oh my God, he can name five objects in his field of vision. How does he do it? Send this man his Macarthur genius grant. Get MENSA on the phone — they’re going to want to see this. It’s like if the minds of Einstein, Hawking, Kasparov and Jobs were all rolled into one and then stuffed inside the body of an alcoholic walrus.” — SETH MEYERS
“So you see, acing this test, it doesn’t make him a genius; it makes him a guy desperate for accomplishment.” — TREVOR NOAH
“Seriously, dude, it’s not a test to see how smart you are — it’s a test to see if you’re OK. When the referee asks a boxer what city he’s in, it’s not a geography test.” — SETH MEYERS
“This is a test they give grandpas to see if they can keep living in their house because God forbid you miss a payment on your reverse mortgage.” — SETH MEYERS
The Punchiest Punchlines (The Washington Football Team Edition)
“Today is a historic day for D.C. football fans because, after getting rid of the team’s previous name, Washington’s N.F.L. team will go by the name ‘The Washington Football Team’ until a new name can be chosen. So the Washington football team is now The Washington Football Team.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“That’s what they came up with? That name sounds like someone trying to talk about sports who knows nothing about sports. It’s like, ‘I love the Washington Football Team.’” — JIMMY FALLON
“I’m sorry, that is the laziest team name I have ever heard. I mean, they pre-named a professional football franchise the same way you save phone numbers of people you just met.” — TREVOR NOAH
“The Washington Football Team? Sounds like they can only afford the store brand version of team names. It’s like when my mom couldn’t buy us Cheerios so she brought Oat Circles.” — TREVOR NOAH
“The only silver lining is it’s going to be helpful to people who don’t follow the N.F.L. If someone asks you who you’re rooting for, you will be, like, ‘The football team.’ Sounds like you know what you’re talking about.” — TREVOR NOAH
The ad begins with an image of the White House and the caption “Trumpfeld,” which is modeled after the logo for “Seinfeld,” along with music similar to the hit ’90s sitcom’s signature theme song.
The video plays a laugh track over several of Trump’s comments, including his repeated denial of several Fox News polls.
The first poll showed that 49 percent of surveyed voters said they would vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, if the election were held today, compared to 41 percent who said the same about Trump.
“First of all, I’m not losing,” the president told Wallace, with the group’s ad then including audio of a crowd laughing.
“Those are fake polls,” Trump claimed in a later clip included in the ad, followed by more added laughter.
The president in the interview also denied a poll from the outlet showing voters trusting Biden more to manage the ongoing pandemic, race relations in the U.S. and the economy.
“I have other polls that put me leading,” Trump said.
He also denied a Fox News poll showing that 51 percent of survey respondents said Trump does not have the “mental soundness to serve effectively as president.” Forty-three percent of those polled disagreed.
Forty-seven percent of survey respondents said Biden has the “mental soundness to serve effectively as president,” compared to 39 percent who disagreed.
“Let’s take a test,” the president told Wallace.
“Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took,” Trump continued over the sound of laughs in the Lincoln Project’s ad.
Trump had frequently challenged Biden to take a cognitive test. Wallace told Trump during their interview that he had also taken the test that the president claimed earlier this month that he had “aced.”
“It’s not the hardest test. They have a picture, and it says ‘What’s that?’ and it’s an elephant,” Wallace said.
The president claimed the test “gets very hard, the last five questions.”
“Don’t you believe America deserves a president who doesn’t brag he can spot an elephant?” the Lincoln Project’s ad asks.
Trump campaign spokesperson Erin Perrine pushed back on the latest ad, saying in a statement to The Hill, “This is the swamp – yet again – trying to take down the duly elected President of the United States.”
“President Trump is the leader of a united Republican Party where he has earned 94% of Republican votes during the primaries – something any former president of any party could only dream of,” Perrine said.
The Lincoln Project said last week that it raised $16.8 million in the second quarter of 2020 as it ratchets up efforts targeting Trump ahead of the November election.
‘The Bleach Boy’
President Trump resumed his coronavirus briefings on Tuesday, with a senior member of his administration saying the plan was to keep them short, tight and centered on the president.
“Now, I don’t know how they’re going to do that unless they fit the president with one of those doggy shock collars,” Stephen Colbert said on “The Late Show.”
“So, with Americans being infected by the tens of thousands every day and the president’s polls in free fall, yesterday, Trump announced that he is bringing back his coronavirus task force briefings. It’s the reboot nobody asked for: ‘Dirty Grandpa 2020.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“Oh, man, I hate it when a show comes back after a long break and I can’t remember any of the plot lines.” — SETH MEYERS
“Still, it’s good that he’s going to be talking about the new scientific developments and deferring to the experts, except he’s not, because many of the briefings are likely to feature just the president. So instead of getting the old band back together, we’re just going to get a daily performance of Trump’s solo project, ‘The Bleach Boy.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“That’s right, today was Trump’s first coronavirus briefing in almost three months, or as that’s known in Trump time, about 82 tell-all books.” — JIMMY FALLON
“This is like Samsung bringing back their exploding Galaxy phone.” — JIMMY FALLON
“The press secretary also said the briefings will focus on Trump’s accomplishments on the virus. So at least they’ll be short.” — JIMMY FALLON
“I’m excited the briefings are back, ‘cause I just want to see what kind of treatments Trump comes up with on the spot. [As Trump] ‘Have we tried canceling the virus? Can we get it canceled on Twitter?” — JIMMY FALLON
The Punchiest Punchlines (Portland Edition)
“Oh, speaking of unconstitutional, last night in Portland, Oregon, nameless federal storm troopers again fired tear gas and flash grenades at protesters. Or, as Trump put it, ‘We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it.’”— STEPHEN COLBERT
“You want to help the people of Portland, don’t send in goons to round them up — you buy their organic fair-trade macramé.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“Local officials aren’t happy. Oregon governor Kate Brown complained, ‘We cannot have secret police abducting people in unmarked vehicles. I can’t believe I have to say that to the president of the United States.’ Really, you can’t believe that? ‘Cause it’s just one of a long list of other things you shouldn’t have to say to the president of the United States, like ‘Frederick Douglass is dead,’ ‘Don’t inject bleach’ and ‘You can’t date your daughter.’” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“Man, that sounds less like democracy and more like an episode of ‘Narcos.’” — TREVOR NOAH
”Unidentified soldiers throwing protesters into an unmarked van on the streets of Portland? Like, I don’t care who you are, nothing good has ever come from an unmarked van. It’s never like, ‘Get in the van! Get in the unmarked van! We’re going to Disney World!” — TREVOR NOAH
“And how are people even supposed to tell the difference between being arrested and being kidnapped? Because I don’t know if you noticed this, but in America, random dudes walk around in camo gear holding guns all the time.” — TREVOR NOAH
The history of California is a history of will grafted onto the landscape. First came missionaries, building churches out of clay and meting out God’s kingdom to the native peoples. Then came gold and silver, the pursuit of which levelled hills, remade cliffs, and built cities along the Pacific Coast. Water was diverted. Sprawling fields soon followed. By the time Cesar Chavez organized a grape workers’ strike, in 1965, the agriculture business was the largest in the state. People say Chavez fought for justice, which is broadly true. And yet that strike, like many of his efforts, rose more from scrappy pragmatism than from any abstract ideal. “No one in any battle has ever won anything by being on the defensive,” he liked to tell his picketers. High intent was a fine thing, but change would come the way it always came in California: by force of will.
Chavez’s own will was mammoth, and his battle against agribusiness lasted weeks, then months, then years. The goal, he said, was to cost growers fifty dollars for each dollar spent on the strike. Ostensibly, field workers were pushing for better wages and treatment. But they also fought for recognition of Chavez’s new field-labor union, now called the United Farm Workers, and the political authority of a marginalized demographic. The strike, which began and was headquartered in Delano, a San Joaquin Valley town that lay at the heart of table-grape production, grew to represent the fate of a new national cause.
Along the way, Chavez helped reinvent the picket. At one point, he shouted rallying cries over the fields from a low-flying airplane. At another, his colleagues founded a Teatro Campesino to perform skits on the backs of pickup trucks. The strike “appeared to have no kinship with the institutionalized formalities of most contemporary labor disputes,” John Gregory Dunne wrote in his book “Delano” (1967). “There was no ritual of collective bargaining, no negotiating table around which it was difficult to tell the managers of money from the hewers of wood and the carriers of water, no talk of guidelines and fringe benefits and the national weal, no professional mediators, on leave from academe at a hundred dollars a day and all expenses paid, plugged in by special telephone lines to the Oval Room at the White House.”
Instead, there were the pickets and a narrative of heroism that aroused a questing middle class. By late 1967, Chavez had launched a widespread grape boycott. Soon union contracts started raining down. The victories of these years form the basis for a new movie, originally called “Cesar Chavez: An American Hero” (it has since lost its honorific subtitle), directed by Diego Luna and starring Michael Peña. The film, which was screened at the White House last month, was made under the gaze of Chavez’s family, and it draws out a familiar hagiography. “I’m going to see it all the way through,” Peña’s Chavez vows during one of several can’t-keep-a-good-man-down ruminations. “Because if we lose I won’t be able to look at my family in the eye.”
How honest is this portrait? Chavez was a cipher even to colleagues, partly because he didn’t seem to fit the role. He was short, with a dad-on-Sunday wardrobe and a gold-capped tooth. Many found him notably ineloquent—his verbal placeholder of choice was “golly”—and his counsel, when it came, could appear contradictory. In public, Chavez professed gentleness, but he had a quick, vindictive temper. As a leader, he was sometimes insupportable; as a parent, he had trouble showing up. (He skipped two of his children’s births and left his daughter’s wedding, for union business.) He was the most vexing kind of workaholic, the ascetic kind: hard-edged and self-punishing. Through most of his productive years, he seems to have subsisted largely on Diet Rite cola, matzoh, and prunes.
He often found himself on the wrong side of a decision. In “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” (Bloomsbury), a provocative new biography, Miriam Pawel reassesses Chavez’s legacy under a raking light. For years, the foundational account of Chavez’s work was an as-told-to narrative by Jacques E. Levy, a deeply embedded writer who just as deeply admired the cause. Pawel, a former Los Angeles Times reporter, offers a corrective to that starry-eyed project. Her previous book, “The Union of Their Dreams” (2009), explored the United Farm Workers by focussing on its seconds-in-command. After speaking with those who helped build the union, Pawel had a critical read on many of Chavez’s moves.
Now she takes on the giant himself. “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” combines fresh reporting with spot-checking of Chavez’s memories, as gathered by writers such as Levy, and the result helps flesh out Chavez as more than a transcendent moral hero. As he once put it, “There is a big difference between being a saint and being an angel.”
The Elephant in the Room
In a “Fox News Sunday” interview over the weekend, President Trump was challenged by Chris Wallace, who Trevor Noah called “the only reporter at Fox News who isn’t trying to become the next press secretary.” Trump claimed America had one of the lowest Covid-19 mortality rates but, as Noah noted on Monday’s “Daily Show,” “that wasn’t the only time Trump tried to bring receipts that he didn’t actually have.”
“Chris Wallace did two things right there that Trump absolutely hates: He proved him wrong, and he made him do homework.” — TREVOR NOAH
“Come on, Chris. Trump didn’t come on Fox News to get fact-checked. Talk to your colleagues.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“When asked yesterday about his statements that downplay the severity of the coronavirus, President Trump said, quote, ‘I guess everybody makes mistakes.’ Yeah, but there are mistakes, and then there are mistakes. When I over-water one of my plants the economy stays open and Americans can still travel to Canada.” — SETH MEYERS
“Here’s where the interview got really sad. Lately, Trump has been bragging nonstop about passing a cognitive test. Now remember, passing this test is not impressive. It checks for things like brain damage, asking real stumpers like ‘Name these three animals,’ making it the most difficult test Trump has taken since the one where he had to get all the pee in the cup.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“It’s chilling to see the most powerful man in the world bragging that he passed a test that they give people to find out whether they should be allowed to take the bus by themselves.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“Wow, guys, this is sort of making me sad right now, because Trump is trying so hard to claim he’s a genius because he passed a test where you have to identify an elephant. Which, let’s be honest, even for Trump, is too easy. I mean, if they wanted to test Trump, they shouldn’t have asked him to identify an elephant — they should have asked him to identify his second daughter.” — TREVOR NOAH
“There’s a giant middle ground between naming bases after Confederate generals and naming them after Al Sharpton. I mean, America has had lots of non-Confederate generals. And Trump should know that — he’s fired a lot of them.” — TREVOR NOAH
“Some experts called it a fiasco, while others called it a debacle. I’m not saying it was bad, but by the end of it, Kanye was calling for Trump to get some help.” — JIMMY FALLON
The Punchiest Punchlines (Kim Kardashian’s Eldest Child Edition)
“Last night, Kanye West held his first campaign rally in South Carolina — because you know, [expletive] it.” — JOEL McHALE, guest host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live”
“Kanye West, hip-hop superstar and Kim Kardashian’s eldest child.” — TREVOR NOAH
“Kanye also used the rally to talk about the issue that matters most to him: how smart he is.” — JOEL McHALE
“OK, this is officially the weirdest hip-hop beef of all time. You’re gonna harass Harriet Tubman for not getting the slaves better jobs? What was she supposed to do, run the Underground Railroad and LinkedIn?” — TREVOR NOAH
“And honestly, guys, I don’t know what to make of this, I genuinely don’t know what to make of this, you know? Because my takeaway from this event is that Kanye West doesn’t seem well. Like, I feel like someone who cares about him needs to take his microphone away, although ironically, the best person for that job is Kanye.” — TREVOR NOAH