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Ever since footage of President Trump singing the National Anthem on camera at Monday night’s college football national championship went viral, social-media users and reporters have been debating whether he knows the words. On Tuesday night, late-night hosts weighed in, too — and offered a resounding “no.”
“You would think that a man who ran on a platform of pure patriotism, and who spent months lecturing athletes on respecting the National Anthem would, at the very least, know the words to the anthem,” host Seth Meyers joked on Late Night.
After playing the clip, which shows Trump pausing in parts and singing out of time in others, the host said, “Oh, my god, Trump sings the National Anthem the way the rest of us sing ‘Despacito.'” He added, “Seriously, how can you be president and not know the words to the National Anthem? That’s like being Peyton Manning and not knowing the words to the Nationwide jingle.”
Meanwhile on The Late Late Show, James Corden also made a reference to “Despacito,” taking jabs at the president’s seeming lack of knowledge of the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” “He looks like a guy who just jumped onstage at a karaoke bar to sing ‘Despacito‘ and then suddenly remembered he can’t speak Spanish,” Corden said during his opening monologue.
Continuing, Corden joked that Trump has acquired more knowledge about Twitter than about the country’s National Anthem. “In Trump’s defense, it’s hard to sing a song while you’re also trying to compose tweets in your head,” Corden said.
Finding the moment to be “disrespectful,” Corden pondered what could be done to “someone like that,” only to then show a clip from one of Trump’s speeches, in which he criticizes NFL players for kneeling during the National Anthem.
“When someone disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off our field right now. Out, he’s fired,” Trump was shown yelling to the crowd, leaving Corden to quip, “If you say so!”
On The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert jokingly claimed he had received exclusive footage of President Trump’s “isolated vocals” in the clip. The video that follows has a Trump-sounding voice singing a nonsensical tune that incorporates lyrics harkening to recent news stories about the embattled president.
“How much does that ‘Sloppy Steve’ Bannon weigh?” the voice sings in one part, referring to Trump’s social-media moniker for his White House’s former chief strategist.
“Love TV,” he sings in another, recalling reports that Trump watches up to eight hours of TV a day. “And I have, like, big brains,” he sings in the finale, his lyric resembling a recent tweet Trump sent, rebutting reports in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury that he is mentally unfit for office.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah took a more forgiving approach to Trump’s alleged memory loss, going out on the street to ask pedestrians if they knew all the lyrics to the anthem.
“I don’t know the exact words,” one passer-by tells Daily Show correspondent Dulce Sloan.
Another struggles with the line “the dawn’s early light,” even as Sloan offers a hint, pointing him to the sky, and one sings a combination of two lines — “the dawn’s early gleaming” — in a spot where neither applies.
And when Sloan suggested that pedestrians take a knee while singing, most refuse, with one man saying, “I don’t have time for that.”
Lexy Perez contributed to this report.