NBC Fondly Remembers SNL Trashing Palin, Hopes for Trump Take-Down

On Friday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer excitedly proclaimed: “Anticipation already running high for tomorrow’s season premiere of Saturday Night Live when the show announced that Alec Baldwin will be playing Donald Trump.” Fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie chimed in: “That put the anticipation into the stratosphere.” She then wondered: “We think there will be laughs, but will it actually have an impact on the election?”

In the report that followed, correspondent Koda Kotb gushed that Baldwin’s impersonation of the Republican nominee was coming just “at one of the most pivotal points in the race” and could help shape the campaign just as it did in 2008. She touted: “Pointed political satire reached a new level when SNL brought former cast Tina Fey to play Alaska Governor Sarah Palin....Some say the impersonation helped define Palin’s image among voters.”

 

 

A soundbite played of NBC political analyst and former McCain-Palin campaign adviser Nicolle Wallace seeming to congratulate Fey for tearing down the GOP vice presidential candidate: “What Tina Fey achieved was to take questions about Sarah Palin’s readiness or gaps in her knowledge or some of the things she said in her early days as a VP nominee and really turn them into water cooler conversations. And that's really where campaigns are won and lost.”

Kotb hinted at Baldwin having the same effect on Trump: “Now, with fewer than 40 days left until election day, the question is, what impact will Baldwin’s have on the race?” A clip ran of Politico’s Shane Goldmacher speculating: “If SNL chooses to make Donald Trump a darker character – not one you can sort of laugh at, but something that you laugh at with a bit of unease – you know, for some younger voters, that could push them away from him.”

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In a Thursday article for the political website, Goldmacher asked: “Will Saturday Night Live take down Trump?”

Kotb wrapped up her Friday segment by noting: “And as most people probably know, Baldwin has openly said he is no Trump fan, but you can guarantee probably a lot of people will be tuning in Saturday night.”

Moments later, Guthrie teased an upcoming Today show interview with SNL cast member Kate McKinnon about “what it was like to be in a sketch last year with the real Hillary Clinton.” McKinnon told Sunday Today host Willie Geist:

I felt a sense of sisterhood. I don't know if she felt that, I hope she did. I had so much fun. She was such a riot. She just came in and read the sketch and like got all of the comedic beats. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, she’s going to be funnier than me. This is embarrassing.”

So Trump gets played by Baldwin, who’s “not a fan,” and Clinton gets portrayed by McKinnon, who’s part of the Democratic nominee’s “sisterhood.”  

Here is a full transcript of Kotb’s September 30 report:

8:06 AM ET TEASE

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And then, Saturday Night Live’s influence on politics. How SNL is gearing up to put its signature spin on the presidential race.

8:21 AM ET SEGMENT

MATT LAUER: Anticipation already running high for tomorrow’s season premiere of Saturday Night Live when the show announced that Alec Baldwin will be playing Donald Trump.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: That put the anticipation into the stratosphere. We think there will be laughs, but will it actually have an impact on the election? Hoda’s been looking at that.

HODA KOTB: People are popping the popcorn already. Alec Baldwin is no stranger to SNL, he’s hosted the show more than anyone, actually 16 times. Now he's taking on the role of the Republican candidate at one of the most pivotal points in the race.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Politics and Punchlines; Sneak Peek at New Season of “SNL”]

A short promotional video was all it took. Fans of Saturday Night Live are fired up to see Alec Baldwin play Donald Trump opposite Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton.

KATE MCKINNON [AS HILLARY CLINTON]: I don't have a mean bone in my body. Just ask anyone except those close to me.

KOTB: The campaign has already given plenty of fodder to the late night show that has spent decades turning politics into punchlines, skewering anyone seeking the highest office in the land. It all started with Chevy Chase playing the role of Gerald Ford, from Nixon, Carter, and Reagan, to more recently, Bush, Gore, and Obama.

SHANE GOLDMACHER [SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER FOR POLITICO]: Both the Clinton campaign and the Trump campaign are definitely going to be watching on Saturday night to see how their candidates are portrayed. They may not have any say in how they come off, but they certainly care.

KOTB: SNL impersonations have become iconic. Dana Carvey's George H.W. Bush helped frame public perception of the President.

DANA CARVEY [AS GEORGE H.W. BUSH]: Not gonna do it.

KOTB: Phil Hartman mocked the President's waistline as Bill Clinton.

PHIL HARTMAN [AS BILL CLINTON]: Say, are you going to finish these fries?

KOTB: Will Farrell's portrayal of George W. Bush could be summed up in one word.

WILL FARRELL [AS GEORGE W. BUSH]: Strategery.

KOTB: Pointed political satire reached a new level when SNL brought former cast Tina Fey to play Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

TINA FEY [AS SARAH PALIN]: And I can see Russia from my house.

KOTB: Some say the impersonation helped define Palin’s image among voters.

FEY: We are not afraid to get mavericky in there and ruffle feathers.

NICOLLE WALLACE: What Tina Fey achieved was to take questions about Sarah Palin’s readiness or gaps in her knowledge or some of the things she said in her early days as a VP nominee and really turn them into water cooler conversations. And that's really where campaigns are won and lost.

FEY: The real one?

KOTB: Though Palin herself joined in on the fun in a head-turning appearance with Fey and Baldwin.

SARAH PALIN: Live from New York, it's Saturday night!

KOTB: This campaign has already seen both major candidates appear on SNL. Hillary Clinton serving up drinks as a bartender.

MCKINNON: Donald Trump.

HILLARY CLINTON: Donald Trump? Isn't he the one that's like, “Ooh, you're all losers”?

KOTB: And last November, Donald Trump hosted the show.

DONALD TRUMP: They don't have my talent, my money, or especially, my good looks.

KOTB: Now, with fewer than 40 days left until election day, the question is, what impact will Baldwin’s have on the race?

GOLDMACHER: If SNL chooses to make Donald Trump a darker character – not one you can sort of laugh at, but something that you laugh at with a bit of unease – you know, for some younger voters, that could push them away from him.

KOTB: It’ll all play out live from New York on Saturday night.

And as most people probably know, Baldwin has openly said he is no Trump fan, but you can guarantee probably a lot of people will be tuning in Saturday night.

GUTHRIE: What would the debates be if SNL didn't do their take on it?

KOTB: Right.

LAUER: I’ll be watching Sunday morning.

GUTHRIE: Me, too, I know. I know.

LAUER: I can’t stay up. But that’s alright, I can’t wait to see it.

GUTHRIE: By the way, you can see what happens when SNL returns tomorrow night, 11:30/10:30 Central here on NBC or watch your DVR the next day.

By the way, Willie sat down with Kate McKinnon this week, she told him what it was like to be in a sketch last year with the real Hillary Clinton.  

WILLIE GEIST: What's it like to do Hillary Clinton with Hillary Clinton this close to you?

KATE MCKINNON: It’s a – well, I felt a sense of sisterhood. I don't know if she felt that, I hope she did. I had so much fun. She was such a riot. She just came in and read the sketch and like got all of the comedic beats. And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, she’s going to be funnier than me. This is embarrassing.”

GUTHRIE: You can see a lot more of Willie's interview with Kate McKinnon, that’s on Sunday Today.

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