With just 39 days to go in the 2016 presidential race, there is seemingly little that cable news networks and pro-Democrat media “watchdogs” can do to stop the momentum of Donald Trump’s campaign.
Media outlets and “fact checkers” have pored over every nook and cranny of Trump’s businesses and campaign since last July; they’ve waited with bated breath for Trump to say something unforgivable at a rally or a fundraiser, perhaps a Romney-esque “47%” comment that might finally sink his campaign for good.
But seemingly none of it has worked. While the race remains nail-bitingly close in several battleground states, Friday’s Los Angeles Times tracking poll has Trump up six points on Clinton nationally, well outside the poll’s margin of error.
With time running out, reinforcements arrived just this week — in the form of Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes and Alec Baldwin.
The effort began Monday when NBC dropped a “new scene” from its beloved late 90s-early 2000s sitcom Will and Grace. The show’s core four cast members had teased a reunion on social media all week, with a final video teaser promising “Will & Grace is back” sending fans of the show into a frenzy.
The ten-minute scene, released online, is heavy on zingers directed toward Trump as Karen (Mullally), a Trump supporter, tries to convince the undecided Jack (Hayes) to vote for the Republican candidate.
“Honey, if you don’t vote for Trumpy, there will be wars and monsoons and locusts and hordes of brown people pouring over our borders from every direction,” Karen tells him. “I mean, it’s one thing if you’re sitting in the audience at Hamilton, but do you really want to see those people everywhere?”
There’s jokes about how Karen helped “pick out” Trump’s wife, Melania, and about how the “azure green” of the sea at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida pairs nicely with the “mahogany brown” of the resort’s staff.
It goes on like that for a while. Jack is ultimately convinced to vote for Clinton when he’s told that that’s who Katy Perry is voting for.
Fast forward to Wednesday, when Saturday Night Live announced that frequent guest-host Alec Baldwin, fresh off of a stint hosting ABC’s reboot of Match Game, would play the role of Trump throughout the entirety of the show’s upcoming 42nd season.
Baldwin — who has guested on the program a record 16 times — is no stranger to the show’s political sketches. He appeared in a 2008 skit alongside Tina Fey, who played former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in perhaps the show’s most influential (and damaging) depiction of a politician ever.
In fact, it was Fey herself who suggested Baldwin for the Trump role to SNL producer Lorne Michaels earlier this summer, Michaels told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview this week.
“We were talking about who should do it,” Michaels told THR. “And [Fey] said, ‘Well, the person that should really play it is Alec.’ And I went, ‘Yeah!’ A light went on.”
NBC released a teaser trailer for its October 1 season premiere along with the announcement of Baldwin’s casting on Wednesday. The promo hypes a matchup between Baldwin’s Trump and Kate McKinnon’s Clinton in what will almost surely be a send-up of Monday night’s presidential debate.
Neither of these developments would matter much if they didn’t illustrate so clearly the level of desperation at which both the political and cultural Left finds itself as the race enters its final stretch.
Celebrities getting involved in politics during an election year is practically passé, at this point. The cast of the West Wing is campaigning for Clinton in Ohio. The stars of The Avengers cut an anti-Trump PSA for Joss Whedon’s pro-Clinton Super PAC. The current and former cast and crew of the Star Trek franchise angrily denounced Trump in an open letter. Katy Perry and Zach Galifianakis worked the Funny or Die comedy clip circuit in support of Clinton, while Madonna shed her clothes and posted a photo to social media in an effort to get out the vote.
But Will and Grace and SNL are the big guns.
The former picked up 16 Emmy Awards over its eight-year run and is often cited by media experts as being hugely influential in Americans’ perception of gay people. University of Minnesota professor Greg Schappa told NPR in a 2012 interview that the show was a “turning point” in American discourse on gay rights, and no less than Vice President Joe Biden has credited the show with having done “more to educate the American public” about gay people than any other entertainment or education initiative.
The reunion clip has already been viewed more than five million times.
Meanwhile, conservatives needn’t be reminded of how influential Saturday Night Live can be with its send-ups of politicians. Sarah Palin never said, “I can see Russia from my house;” that was Tina Fey mocking the vice presidential nominee in just one of the skits that became devastatingly effective at painting her as geographically challenged and stupid.
SNL began going after Trump last season, most notably with a “Racists for Trump” fake campaign advertisement that featured neo-Nazis and white supremacists encouraging people to vote for the Republican candidate.
But the possibility of Trump winning the presidency has become so dire for the left, that some, including former SNL staffer and liberal media personality Dean Obeidallah, say that the show has a “moral obligation” to highlight Trump’s “racism, sexism and bigotry” in its upcoming season.
“Eighty million people watched the debate, 130 million people will vote, 50 million others are still looking for places to get their news, and comedy can fill that gap,” Obeidallah told Politico this week. “Maybe it’s going to take comedians to do the job that cable news has relinquished for so much of the campaign.”
Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Hollywood Democrats were quietly panicking about Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses and Trump’s electoral prospects in the election’s closing stretch. Worried liberals reportedly cornered Republican pollster Frank Luntz at an Emmy Awards after-party and peppered him with questions about Trump’s chances, only to be informed that the pollster could no longer guarantee a Clinton victory, much to their horror.
What is clear with the latest salvos from two cultural mainstays is that the panic is no longer quiet. In 39 days, Hollywood and the rest of the left will find out if their last-ditch effort can bring down the one candidate they can’t afford to see elected.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dnzussbaum