Saturday’s edition of Saturday Night Live mocked the House Oversight Committee’s hearings last week on the Benghazi terror attacks, substituting convicted murderer Jodi Arias for the State Department whistleblowers who came forward to testify about the deaths of four American diplomats on Sep. 11, 2012.
SNL cast the hearings as a “partisan witch-hunt” in which Republicans tried to sensationalize the deaths for political gain, using the week’s notorious criminals–including alleged kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro–to gain media attention. The sketch, which opened the show, acknowledged that the media had not covered the Benghazi scandal–but instead of making fun of the media or the administration, SNL targeted the GOP.
Bizarrely, the writers of SNL could not bring themselves to spoof any of the actual Democrats on the committee. Cast member Kenan Thompson appeared to imitate Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (D-GA), the Ranking Member on the committee, but he was presented as “Rep. Doc Hastings,” a Republican from Washington State. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was also spoofed, but was presented as Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).
The SNL writers also appeared to use the Arias character to debunk the investigation into the American deaths: “Well, if you know who did it, then why are you holding these hearings?” she asks committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). No mention was made of the administration’s refusal to send help, or its false story about a protest against a video, or its alleged efforts to discourage the whistleblowers from testifying.
Partisans on both sides on are often criticized for failing to laugh at themselves when they are the targets of satire. Yet the studio audience at NBC’s Rainbow Room in New York had a hard time laughing, as most of the jokes fell flat. The result was a sketch that dishonored the deaths of four American diplomats in a weak attempt to defend the administration–a sign of panic among the president’s media and entertainment allies.