Late-Night Hosts Tackle Trump's Reported $1B Loss: "Like a One-Man Fyre Festival"

Hosts including Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Trevor Noah took the president to task for campaigning on his record as a businessman following unearthed tax-return information from The New York Times.
Lloyd Bishop/NBC

Late-night hosts are having a field day following a report in The New York Times on Tuesday that found that Donald Trump's businesses lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994, based on tax information the newspaper acquired.

During his show on Wednesday, Jimmy Kimmel joked that Trump was "like a one-man Fyre Festival, this guy." After explaining to the audience that the outlet found that Trump "lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer" year after year, he said, "So not only isn’t he a great businessman — as he claims — he isn’t even a bad businessman. He is the worst businessman in America for years!"

The president tweeted Wednesday that real estate developers during that period were "entitled to massive write-offs and depreciation" that would "show losses and tax losses in almost all cases." He added that much of those losses were "non monetary."

He also said, "You always wanted to show losses for tax purposes" and "renegotiate with banks." Trump called that "sport."

Of Trump's response to the report, Kimmel joked, "That is like bragging about your hang-gliding accident because now you get to park in the handicapped spots."

In his "Closer Look" segment on Late Night, Seth Meyers emphasized just how out-of-touch the report made Trump seem. "He lost more than a billion dollars. I can't imagine," Meyers said. "If my 401K goes down by half a percent, I need to take three Xanax. If I turn on CNN and see a red arrow in the bottom corner, I frantically call my broker and tell him to take everything out, and my broker says, 'Take it out of what? You have all your money in a checking account.' And then I say, 'Is that bad?' And he says, 'Yes. And also, we have been over this, I'm not a broker, I'm an actor, how did you get this phone number?'"

Meyers also reminded his audience that during the time the report spanned, Trump was calling reporters using a fake name to tout his own successes. Meyers played a clip of one such interaction, in which "John Barron" told a reporter how much his father Fred Trump loved him: "He used a fake name to call a reporter and talk about how much his father loves him. Man. I would say the dude needs therapy, but I don't think he can afford it. Maybe he can just use a fake name and be his own therapist," Meyers joked.

Over on TBS, Full Frontal host Samantha Bee homed in on the report's assertion that Trump lost more money than any other individual taxpayer over the course of the 10 years studied: In fact, one commentator said he was responsible for two cents out of every dollar lost in the U.S. in that time period. "I used to think Donald Trump's finances took a dip in the early-90s recession. Now I think he was the early-90s recession," she joked.

Bee also took aim at Trump's claims at being a great businessman during the 2016 presidential campaign. "Look, the only thing that Donald Trump really had going for him as a candidate was that he was supposed to be a great businessman. Now we know that he was not only a bad businessman, he was one of the worst in the entire country. Going by business acumen, we would have been doing better off electing MC Hammer," she joked before taking the GOP to task for electing someone who was not fiscally responsible himself.

Late Late Show host James Corden said that people were "buzzing" over the news.

"Apparently Trump's businesses lost more than $250 million in 1990 alone, proving once and for all that Donald Trump was basically the '90s version of Fyre Fest," he joked.

"To give you some perspective, 1990 was the same year the movie Kindergarten Cop came out and that movie made $200 million," he added. "It's not like you needed a brilliant idea to make money back then."

Corden also called out a quote from Trump in 1990 in which the businessman said that no one had accomplished more than him at his age, which was 41. "Sure, Albert Einstein published the theory of relativity at age 26, but Einstein wasn't even close to losing millions of dollars," he said.

Stephen Colbert introduced the topic on The Late Show by sharing that Trump lost $1.17 billion, which is closer to $2 billion today.

"That is more than the GDP of Gambia," said Colbert. "Or as Trump might put it, 'I'm in shithole country now."'

Colbert wanted his audience to remember that Trump was in the prime of his career during 1985 to 1994. "Those were his salad days minus the salad. Trump was everywhere back then pushing his carefully crafted billionaire image," he said.

"Everything we thought we knew about Trump back then was a lie. Remember his cameo as the fancy rich guy in Home Alone 2?" he said. "Now we know when he recorded that, he was so broke he had to borrow money from the pigeon lady."

Colbert also addressed Trump's response to the story. "His argument is what he did was totally normal and, also, he didn't do it," he summarized. "Pick a lane, Mr. President. 'Look, officer, I could not have committed the murder. I was in my apartment all night. Plus, back then everyone was murdering. It was sport.'"

After the host said that the story painted Trump as a man that lived above his means, he shared a clip from Fox & Friends that showed the hosts positively talking about how much money Trump spent on a boat. "Folks, this is a complicated story, so let's take out all the verbs. 'Big boat fire bad Trump good,'" he said.

In another clip from the Fox & Friends segment, the hosts said that Trump is different than most people. "Yes, we've noticed he's a little different. If he were most people, he'd either be in jail right now or napping on the couch while his children quietly discuss the next steps," Colbert said.

After Jimmy Fallon performed a song dedicated to the new royal baby, he transitioned topics by stating, "Even though the royal baby is only three days old, he's already paid more taxes than President Trump."

The Tonight Show host shared a news clips that stated that Trump had lost more money than any other American taxpayer. "Trump basically set a record by losing over a billion dollars," he said. "It's crazy. If you combine Trump and The Avengers, you break even."

The Daily Show's Trevor Noah explained that the public has been fascinated with Trump's tax returns, and why he wouldn't release them to the public, since he announced his candidacy for president.

"My conspiracy theory is that he's hiding the extra income he makes by working part-time at TGI Fridays," the host joked.

Noah touched on the possibility that Trump has lost more money than any other American. "That is crazy. The guy who lost the most money is the same guy who claims to be the best businessman," he said. "It's like finding out that Hugh Hefner died a virgin."

He added that the news confirms how good Trump is at "inflating" his success. During the period in which he was dealing with bankruptcy, he was featured on the Forbes richest people list. "When in reality, he should've been on the Forbes broke ass bitch list," said Noah. "Which isn't a real list, but I think it should be."

Noah then played the Fox & Friends clip that praised Trump for his actions. "Say what you will about Fox & Friends, but when they are with you, they are with you," he said. "Every leader would be lucky to have that kind of support. If Kim Jong-un had a Fox & Friends, they'd be like, 'This haircut is the best one yet.' Every leader. Hitler's Fox & Friends would've been like, 'You know, the haters are saying that he's a mass murderer and that he lost the war, but people don't focus on how well traveled he was.'"

The host added that some Trump supporters positively view Trump's financial losses because "you have to have a billion to lose a billion." A clip followed of two supporters claiming that the tax returns should be kept private.

"This story just shows you how we're all totally living in different bubbles. One side hears about this story of Trump's taxes and they think it proves that he's a shady loser. The other side hears the story and they go, 'Wow. He's so rich he had a billion dollars to lose,'" said Noah.