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With the outlandish spectacle of Donald Trump’s arraignment and arrest dominating the news on Tuesday, late night TV went all in on trying to capture the historic, yet wholly bizarre, nature of the day’s events.
On The Daily Show, guest host Roy Wood Jr.’s introduction to Tuesday night’s episode was unsurprisingly focused on the absurdity of the breathless media coverage surrounding the former president’s made-for-cable TV journey from Mar-a-Lago to a Manhattan court for his arraignment. Trump was indicted by a New York grand jury for his alleged role in a scandal stemming from hush-money payments made to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In an exhaustive summary of Tuesday’s events, Wood highlighted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s comparison of Trump to Nelson Mandela and Jesus as other figures who had been subject to political arrest. He also made the point that none of what transpired needed to happen. “The crazy thing about all of this today is that Donald Trump didn’t even have to come to New York,” this week’s Daily Show host said. “He could have done the whole arraignment at the crib. Because, apparently, they gave him the option to be arraigned over Zoom. You know, like Nelson Mandela and Jesus.
“Trump wants publicity,” Wood said. “Look at how he came out of Trump Tower this morning giving the Black Power fist like a real political prisoner. He lives for shit like this. Hell, Trump is liable to show up to court every day dancing on top of a car like Michael Jackson.”
He added: “And the media, man, the media, what [do] they do? They play right along with it, giving us wall-to-wall coverage, even when there was absolutely nothing to talk about.”
After running through the day’s events, Wood reflected that he needed to go viral with his analysis. “I’m trying to go viral this week. There’s a lot of pressure being a guest host,” he joked, alluding to the need to draft in a very special guest to discuss events. Help then came in the form of a ghost from The Daily Show‘s past, as Jon Stewart emerged decked out as a hooded Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Removing his hood, the former Daily Show host said he had dropped by to help Wood like “the wise sage who mentors the young host” but what ensued was a prolonged discussion about why Stewart was dressed like Kenobi, which character Wood was, and if Trump was indeed Vader. The Star Wars bit deliberately went on so long that Wood ran out of time, and Stewart was thwarted in his analysis.
Over at The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon shared a special clip addressing the arraignment, during which he made quips about Trump’s fingerprints looking like the “don’t walk” sign on street corners, that he’s a child who needs to be entertained with an iPad and that he probably thinks his Class E felonies are “very classy.”
“Trump was like, ‘Of course they were very classy felonies, some would say the classiest of felonies,'” the late night host said in an accent resembling the former president’s.
Fallon then switched his focus to Greene and Rep. George Santos, who also showed up outside the New York courthouse.
“It was absolute chaos,” Fallon said. “It was basically the craziest Thanksgiving Day Parade. Even Times Square Elmo was like, ‘If they try to engage, just walk right past them. Don’t engage with them.'” He then noted that when Santos appeared at the courthouse, he was swarmed by reporters. “Trump saw the media following Santos and was like, ‘Hey, get your own arraignment.'”
The host couldn’t go without addressing Greene’s statements comparing Trump’s arrest to Mandela’s and Jesus, joking, “Jesus saw that and said, ‘Jesus.'”
Stephen Colbert kicked off his Trump segment by saying it was 70 degrees and sunny with a chance of jail in New York on Tuesday.
“Once he finally arrived down at the courthouse, we heard these immortal words, ‘This moment at 1:24 p.m. Eastern time, Donald J. Trump is under arrest,'” the host said, to loud cheers from the audience. “I know. It feels good, but remember, he is innocent until he is proven so, so guilty.”
The Late Show host continued, “At that point, of course, he was read his Miranda rights. Then, he claimed that Miranda wasn’t even his type, asked her to sign an NDA and got indicted again.”
Colbert went on to poke fun at Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina, how cable news filled time without having video access inside the courthouse and what was potentially going on in the former president’s mind during the arraignment.
On NBC’s Late Night, Seth Meyers dedicated his “A Closer Look” segment to Trump’s arrest and arraignment. Meyers said, “It’s worth stepping back and appreciating just how crazy this was. Today, we witnessed the surreal spectacle of one of the world’s most notorious figures, a former president and current candidate, facing arrest and arraignment in the media capital of the world.”
Meyers referenced Trump’s own social media take on his arrest, quipping, “Trump commented on his own arrest, a watershed moment in American history, the way your grandpa posts on Facebook about his trip to Italy. ‘Wow. Seems so surreal. Can’t believe the pizza is better at home. Your grandmother says hello.'”
Much like his late night contemporaries, Meyers zeroed in on the absurd wall-to-wall cable news coverage that saw the likes of CNN and Fox News offer live coverage, including of Trump’s plane taking off and offering commentary on his luggage arriving at La Guardia.
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