MONDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2020
SNL delivered no laughs, misfiring cable host says: CNN's Erica Hill was working directly from script. Also, from decades-old tradition.
At the end of this morning's 6 o'clock hour on CNN's New Day program, she told us we were going to enjoy some solid laughs, courtesy of this past weekend's Saturday Night Live:
HILL (10/19/20): All right, Sara Sidner, thank you for that reporting.
We're going to take a little shift here, take a turn. Saturday Night Live, taking on the Trump and Biden dueling town halls. Here's a look at your late night laughs.
Viewers were going to enjoy some good solid ate night laughs! Producers then played videotape of SNL's hilarious spoof of last Wednesday night's dueling town halls.
It's been an established norm for decades. On cable, anchors are supposed to pretend they think that leaden clips from Saturday Night Live are actually funny.
This morning, to his vast credit, John Berman wasn't buying.
In the past few years, we've come to regard Berman as a cut above the average cable news host. This morning, he joined the pantheon of the gods.
His co-host had promised some late night laughs. After sitting through the video clip, Berman responded as shown:
BERMAN: So it happened. I mean, I think we have definitive proof that Saturday Night Live was on TV.
HILL: Yes. Where you going with this?
Already, Hill was concerned. Metaphorically, she sensed that one of the androids at Westworld had started to think on its own.
She sensed that Berman was misfiring. Instantly, it became clear that her instinct was right:
BERMAN (continuing directly): Yes, that's it! I mean, I think that's the most we can say about it.
BERMAN: We called it "late night laughs." That may be a misnomer in this case. It was on late night.
HILL: It was on late. There were some—some funny lines.
BERMAN: There were laughs?
BERMAN: I'll have to take your word for it. We'll take that under advisement.
The lusty cheers of our youthful analysts rocked our sprawling campus. "Meantime, New Day continues right now," the badly shaken Hill said, and the 7 o'clock hour started.
Berman had broken one of the longest-standing rules in the cable handbook.
No matter what, cable hosts are supposed to act like they think SNL is funny. Similarly, they're expected to say, "The American people are pretty sharp," every time it becomes clear that we actually aren't.
It takes a tremendous act of will to perform such tasks. Cable hosts are willing to do it.
This morning, one of the cable hosts briefly broke free. Berman had seemed to be a cut above. Just like that, he proved it!
CNN gets it right: To its credit, CNN still provides transcripts for all its shows.
Presumably for the obvious reason, MSNBC has stopped producing any transcripts at all. Amazingly, it has also taken down the years of transcripts it created in the past for its prime-time shows.
Why would a channel decide to eliminate years of transcripts? We American liberals, famously sharp, can possibly figure that out.
(Rachel could make them return to transcribing. In your heart, you know she won't.)