Late night tackles the 2020 debates
October 1, 2020

"The heat's on Donald Trump" after last night's "We Miss America pageant" in Cleveland, Jimmy Kimmel said on Wednesday's Kimmel Live. "There were quite a few TV news people who were like, 'I've never seen anything like this,'" he shrugged, but "I've been seeing this almost every day for about four years now."

"Maybe the most egregious lie Trump told is when he said Joe Biden played more golf than he does — Phil Mickelson doesn't play more golf than he does," Kimmel said. "Trump attacked Biden's family" and "refused to commit to accepting the results of the election," but his lowest moment was "when specifically asked to condemn white supremacy, he wouldn't."

"The only thing he avoids more than condemning white supremacists is paying taxes," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "If you see someone making the same 'mistake' over and over again, at some point you have to accept that it's not a mistake, it's their belief."

"Telling white supremacists to 'stand down' and telling them to 'stand by' are not the same thing," Noah said. "The Proud Boys liked Donald Trump's answer so much that they're even adopting it as their new slogan. And that might actually piss off Trump, because the one thing he definitely believes in is getting royalties." Also, "I'd be careful if I were the Proud Boys," he added, "because if there's one thing we know about Donald Trump, it's that once he invests in you, you have about five years until you go bankrupt."

Yes, "the president's choice of words was so inspiring to these racist numbskulls that today the Proud Boys started selling merch with their new catch phrase," Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. But evidently, "siding with a violent hate group doesn't poll well with suburban women," so Trump claimed he doesn't know the Proud Boys.

"'Stand back and stand by' is a horrifying thing to say to a group of white supremacists, Samantha Bee joked on Full Frontal, "even more horrifying than when Trump yells it out to the Secret Service as he's waging war on the Air Force One bathroom."

Trump telling white supremacists to "stand by" is just part of his effort "to undermine the election and threaten violence if he loses," Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "He doesn't want to win the election, he wants to destroy the election — just like he destroyed the debate." Watch below. Peter Weber

September 30, 2020

Tuesday night was the first presidential debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden — or as The Late Show called it Tuesday night: "Old Man Slap Fight!!!"

Stephen Colbert was as pleased with the debate as his late-night colleagues — which is to say, not at all. "I never thought I'd say this, but I am so looking forward to the vice presidential debate. I mean, for Pete's sake, children watched that!"

"It seemed pretty clear from the beginning that Trump's debate strategy was just to talk over everyone," Colbert said. "And he just kept doing it all night. It reminded me of that time Abraham Lincoln debated a leaf blower." Now, "Joe Biden did get in some zingers," and at one point, "Joe, he just got fed up," he said, but there was also "an interesting moment of civility from Biden," when he called Trump "a clown," then changed it to "a person." "Whew, it's a good thing Joe corrected himself," Colbert said. "He wouldn't want to lose the clown vote. It's also not accurate: If Trump was a clown, he'd have a much more professional face paint."

"One of the most telling, one of the most upsetting moments not only of the night but of my lifetime," Colbert said, was "when the president of the United States was asked simply to condemn white supremacy," and he just "didn't do it! 'I don't support white supremacists, I just command them.'"

"After an hour and a half of soul-pulverizing menace, I feel like I did coming out of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace — how can we possibly do this two more times?" Colbert asked. "Ultimately, I think the American people, they were hurt tonight. And if you look online, they're angry, because this is a serious moment where human lives and the future of this irreplaceable country is on the line," and Trump delivered "one and a half hours of chaos and lies."

Seth Meyers taped Late Night before the debate, so he was still able to joke about it — pretty presciently, it turns out: "The topics included coronavirus response, mail-in ballots, Hunter Biden, taxes, Hunter Biden, climate change, the Supreme Court, and Hunter Biden. According to a new poll, 41 percent of voters expected President Trump to win tonight's debate; the other 59 percent think he'll lose and claim the loss on his 2020 tax returns." Watch below. Peter Weber

September 30, 2020

Tuesday night "was the main event, Sleepy vs. Sleazy, the first — and hopefully last — debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump," Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. " It got off to an interesting start: you know, they flipped a coin to determine who would get the first question, but when Trump saw the quarter in the air, he said, 'Hey, that's how much I paid in taxes last year,' and it went downhill from there."

"It was a terrible debate — I'd call it a nightmare, but at least during a nightmare, you get some sleep," Kimmel said. "Trump treated Chris Wallace like he was Eric asking for more allowance money."

"Before the debate, Chris Wallace said that if he does his job right, it will be like he's not there," Jimmy Fallon said on The Tonight Show. "Well, mission accomplished." Seriously, "what the hell was that debate?" he asked. "Was that helpful to any American? The only person who enjoyed that was Vladimir Putin while he was stroking a cat."

"Tonight's debate was presented without commercials," so "the only interruptions were Trump cutting off Biden and Chris Wallace every 8 seconds," Fallon said. "You know it was a rough debate when the guy who told the president to 'shut up' was seen as the classy candidate" — though after telling Trump to shush for the umpteenth time, "Biden got a standing ovation from Melania."

"Trump would not shut up!" Trevor Noah agreed at The Daily Show. He had some suggestions for the next debate moderator, including spray bottles — "I promise you, Trump will be quiet, because his hair turns into a gremlin if it gets wet" — and a new fact-checking feature where for every lie a candidate tells, "a brick should come down on their side of the screen, you know, like Tetris. ... I mean the best part for Trump is that 5 minutes into the debate, he'll finally have his wall."

"What is my takeaway? I don't actually know. I mean, I don't know how Biden did, because Trump did more interrupting than Kanye West in a room full of Taylor Swifts," Noah said. "And as for Trump's performance, two things: One, now we finally know what it would be like if he read his Twitter feed out loud, and two, I can't believe how hard his brain malfunctioned when they asked him to denounce white supremacists." Peter Weber

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