CNN Fact Checks Last Saturday's SNL Obama-Razzing Skit

October 6th, 2009 8:20 AM

Can one even imagine CNN fact checking any of the skits SNL on President Bush or Sarah Palin?? Heaven forbid SNL finally make fun of President Obama. CNN couldn't help themselves. They actually fact checked the jokes. 

[Update, NBStaff, 10:35 am Eastern: Transcript of CNN segment added below.]

The transcript of CNN’s “fact-checking” report, which aired 28 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour of Monday's Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: It seems no politician is safe from Saturday Night Live. While many people think SNL has mostly spared President Obama, what they’re doing now is not necessarily all that kind. They essentially cast the leader of the free world as a do-nothing president, at least so far. Even though SNL deals in comedy, what they said about the President rings true for a lot of you, apparently. So, did the show accurately capture a mood, or did it go off track for comedic effect?

Let’s bring in CNN's Kareen Wynter. She’s checking the facts for us. All right, Kareen, what are you finding out?

KAREEN WYNTER: Hi there, Wolf. Well, some observers say- sure, we are just talking comedy here, but that, on many points- well, SNL couldn’t have been more off the mark.

WYNTER (voice-over): A cold open for the country’s commander-in-chief.

FRED ARMISEN (as Barack Obama): Because, when you look at my record, it’s very clear what I have done so far, and that is- nothing. (audience laughter)

WYNTER: Obama on Obama- well, not really. Saturday Night Live comedian Fred Armisen’s opening sketch stirred up big laughs with a scathing report card on the President, which lampooned him as having accomplished nothing since he took office.

ARMISEN: Almost one year and nothing to show for it (audience laughter)- you don’t believe me? You think I’m making it up? Take a look at this checklist.

WYNTER: A checklist of promises SNL says Obama failed to deliver.

ARMISEN: On my first day in office I said I’d close Guantanamo Bay. Is it closed yet? No. (audience laughter)

WYNTER: And on Afghanistan?

ARMISEN: I said I would make improvements in the war in Afghanistan. Is it better? No, I think it’s actually worse. (audience laughter)

WYNTER: But is there any truth to this?

BILL ADAIR: They got some things wrong.

WYNTER: Bill Adair, editor of, a non-partisan fact-checking website that rates the statements of elected officials, says SNL missed the mark on some of its claims- for instance, Afghanistan.

ADAIR: I think SNL tended to kind of gloss over what is a- a fair amount of progress by this administration- about sending two additional brigades to Afghanistan. We rated that had a promise kept. On Iraq, Saturday Night Live said not done and, of course, that’s true- they’re not done, but they hadn’t promised to be done by now.

WYNTER: As for health care, Adair says SNL also got it wrong, since that legislation is still stalled in Congress. But Adair says the sketch did get some things right, like Guantanamo Bay. PolitiFact says the President has fallen short on that promise. So is this harmless humor or damage done?

ADAIR: Saturday Night Live is a very important factor in how people get information about American politics.

WYNTER: Still, Adair says the sketch won’t resonate with the audience as much as this.

TINA FEY (as Sarah Palin): Are we not doing the talent portion?

WYNTER: Comic Tina Fey’s dead-on impersonation of former GOP vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin- some credit it with reinforcing an impression of Palin as ill-equipped for the job. But this type of stinging satire is something Adair says Obama may see more of as he faces increasing opposition to some ambitious promises made on the campaign trail.

ADAIR: This is not a fair portrayal of- of how Obama’s done. But it’s comedy- it doesn’t have to be fair.

ARMISEN: If I see any more of this hateful rhetoric, I’m going to have to take drastic action- nah, not really.

WYNTER: Wolf, we reached out to the White House for their reaction on this. They wouldn’t comment. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kareen Wynter, thanks very much.