Image from SNL bailout skit



Saturday Night Live‘s political humor has become more evenhanded, but right-wingers are still complaining.

As noted earlier in this publication, the political satire on NBC’s Saturday Night Live started out rather skewed toward the Democrats in the season’s premiere episode, but was much more evenhanded in the second week’s show. That trend has continued, and the two subsequent episodes have taken fairly equal shots at both the Democrats and the Republicans.

Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin has justly won admiration all around for its visual and vocal accuracy and the humor of her portrayal, and the performers playing Obama, McCain, and Biden are doing equally well. The most recent episode opened with a satirical replay of the recent Vice Presidential debate, which took some cheap shots at Palin but also fired a good many volleys at Biden.

All in all, it was both funny and pointed. But mostly funny—and that’s the way it should be, in my view. If I want political coverage (which I don’t), I’ll go elsewhere for it, thank you very much.

The nonpolitical portions of the show have been quite funny as well, such as this engagingly silly sketch depicting Mark Wahlberg talking to animals, for some unknown reason:

Such skits emphasize what the show is really about—making people laugh. (And as filmmaker John L. Sullivan said in Preston Sturges’s brilliant Sullivan’s Travels there’s a lot to be said for that.)

Given the overheated politics of the present day, however, the show’s political evenhandedness naturally cannot go unpunished, and the SNL crew have gotten slammed by both the left and the right in the past couple of weeks. It all revolved around the following skit:

The sketch slammed the Democrats hard for their responsibility in bringing on the mortgage crisis, and refused to let them duck. As Cord Blomquist aptly summarized it on the Open Market blog, the sketch brilliantly made the following points:

  • Bush warned about Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae long before the Democrats, even though Pelosi has said the opposite and lauded the President’s economic policies
  • Many home buyers who were affected were horribly under qualified for mortgages
  • Other home buyers were wealth opportunists who will be OK in the long run
  • Those benefiting from the bailout are wealthy investors who don’t need a bailout
  • George Soros is a jerk

Republicans and right of center people should have been elated. I certainly was. The euphoria never happened, however, and instead the right began to complain, exemplified by political columnist Michelle Malkin’s blog item:

Over the weekend, I watched a hilarious, dead-on, and surprisingly honest skit on Saturday Night Live about the craptastic bailout and its Democrat roots. The skit called out Fannie/Freddie and featured Nancy Pelosi dragging out various sob-story “victims”—who turned out to be a parade of deadbeats and schemers. I was going to post the video for you tonight, but I can’t.

The video has been pulled. Vanished into thin air. (Go here for full transcript and screenshots.)

Where did it go and why?

I have a theory.

One of the rapacious couples featured in the skit was Herbert and Marion Sandler (portrayed by Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson). Unlike the other composite figures, the Sandlers are a real-life couple.

Also lampooned: Left-wing billionaire George Soros.

As Todd Thurman at Heritage notes, the Sandlers are left-wing moguls who built “a mortgage company whose major product was subprime mortgages and they sold it to Wachovia for $24.2 billion in 2006. And what do the Sandlers do when they are not peddling subprime garbage? They are busy writing checks to leftist groups like the Center for American Progress, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Yes that ACORN.”

The Sandlers are seething over the skit. And George Soros must be livid as well. Anyone else smell a legal threat behind the disappearance of the vid? . . .

If you suspect a few high-placed phone calls to NBC led to the bailout skit slipping down the memory hole, you’re not alone.

I’m sure Malkin was correct in her theory of why the video disappeared. She also noted that NBC’s website was "deleting questions about the skit from message boards."

Clearly NBC was skittish, but there’s a happy ending. NBC has reposted the skit, as you will have noted above, after editing out the words "People who should be shot" below the actors depicting the Sandlers. Given that the admonition, while clearly meant to be satirical, clearly goes over the line into advocacy of violence against two real-life individuals, that’s a compromise I think is perfectly acceptable.

Michelle does not agree, but I think she’s wrong on this. The fact that the skit appeared at all on the live show is a very happy thing, and the fact that it’s available online once again is an even happier event.

Post script: If NBC should decide to pull the video off the internet again, you may view it here.

The show’s new energy and evenhandedness have brought rewards in very high ratings. Reuters reports:

“SNL” is up 49 percent in the metered markets compared with the first four weeks of last season, as well as up 42 percent this past Saturday compared to episode No. 4 last season.

That should give the show’s producers and NBC a strong incentive to stay the course.