As NBC faces questions about why it turned away Ronan Farrow’s story on Harvey Weinstein, it’s worth taking a minute to ridicule the idea that NBC’s Saturday Night Live skipped over Harvey Weinstein last Saturday because, as SNL boss Lorne Michaels told the Daily Mail mocking Weinstein would be a “New York thing.” (Apparently, they tried a Weinstein joke in "Weekend Update" during rehearsal, but it was cut as not funny enough.)
New York Times reporter Dave Itzkoff suggested that criticizing this was only a conservative thing: "The absence of any commentary about Mr. Weinstein opened up SNL to rebukes from conservative critics who said that the show was covering up for a prominent liberal."
Was Lorne joking about it being too local? Shooting that down is the ultimate fish-in-a-barrel game. A quick Google search shows SNL featured ten sketches with Fred Armisen mocking legally blind New York Gov. David Paterson, with his character constantly mocking New Jersey. Nothing local there?
There are ten sketches on Mayor Rudy Giuliani...mostly from when Giuliani hosted the show in 1997. Lorne didn't say "can't have the Mayor host...that's a New York thing." Or Mayor Ed Koch hosting the show in 1983. Or Donald Trump hosting the show -- when he was a New York thing -- in 2004. A Wiki fan page for SNL offers some stats:
Donald Trump is the number one impersonated public figure/celebrity on the show. He has been impersonated by Phil Hartman four times between December 10, 1988 and February 24, 1990. Darrell Hammond has impersonated him 16 times during his tenure, two times as a cameo and nine times as the show's announcer, a total of 27 times between October 2, 1999 and May 14, 2016. Jason Sudeikis has impersonated him one time during a Fox and Friends sketch on November 3, 2012.
Within NBC, we had the weird spectacle of the Access Hollywood hosts on Monday night mocking SNL for skipping Weinstein....when Access Hollywood skipped Weinstein on the first night after the story broke.
When Meryl Streep is quipping that Weinstein was God – at least within the world of movie-making – perhaps he’s large enough for satire. It’s easier to guess that NBC Universal didn’t want to mess up any future dealings with the Weinstein Company. At least until they fired Harvey....on Sunday.