Talk about fake news! El Nacional, a newspaper in the Dominican Republic, ran a photo of Alec Baldwin's characterization of Donald Trump in the place of an image of the actual sitting president. The caption read, "Donald Trump, president of the USA," and accompanied an article about Trump's stance on Israeli settlements. Additionally, it was placed next to a photo of the legit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
El Nacional soon issued an apology for the mistake: "The situation went unnoticed by those who revised page 19," read a statement issued by the publication. "El Nacional apologizes to its readers and anyone who felt affected by the error.' But the mistake speaks to a larger issue about Saturday Night Live's influence on American politics.
Alec Baldwin has been playing Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live since October 2016, when the presidential election was in full swing. Complete with blond wig, fake tan and scrunchy pout, Baldwin's impression has been a hit. Well, with most people...
They say that imitation is the highest form of flatter, but The Donald has not been a fan of Baldwin's impression. "Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad," tweeted Trump back in December.
But audiences agree to disagree with the president. Baldwin's impression has boosted Saturday Night Live ratings, and viewership is at its highest in 24 years. Nearly every new episode of the show has been experiencing an audience hike of over 10 percent, and the 2016 season premiere was up 29 percent over 2015.
And it's not just Baldwin's impression of Trump that has audiences tuning in. Melissa McCarthy's recent rendition of Sean Spicer and Kate McKinnon's impression of Kellyann Conway have people talking at the veritable water cooler — which is pretty much just Facebook and Twitter these days.
Alec Baldwin sees lampooning Trump as his responsibility as a good citizen. "I think that now that he is the president, we have an obligation — as we would if it was him or her — to dial it up as much as we can," said Baldwin in an interview.
And there may be evidence that satirizing a politician can have long term effects above and beyond a newspaper swapping images.
This is not the first time one of Saturday Night Live's impressions of a politician has gotten as much, if not more, attention than the actual candidate. In 2008, Tina Fey's impression of Sarah Palin went viral, and many people believed that some of the jokes Fey said as Sarah Palin were actually Palin quotes.
This "Tina Fey effect" was studied by Jody Baumgardner, Jonathan Morris and Natasha Walth. The political scientists drew connections between the TV program and the 2008 election. As it turns out, young Republicans and Independents were less likely to support the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008 after watching Saturday Night Live and Fey's impression.
According to the study, “When all other variables in the model are held at their mean, those who watched the SNL clip had a 45.4 percent probability of saying that Palin’s nomination made them less likely to vote for McCain."
The study continues, “This same probability drops to 34 percent among those who saw coverage of the debate through other media. Exposure to the clip had no significant effect on the likelihood of voting for Obama.”
"Citizens, who are overloaded with information, tend to come to judgment by activating familiar concepts — often those that the media have highlighted," says the study. In other words, political humor makes the viewer more susceptible to the message, and can influence viewers in ways that traditional campaigning cannot. And, in the case of El Nacional, it can even make newspapers print parody, albeit mistakenly.
Even though it's safe to say the Trump presidency has not been off to a good start, history is still being written. We hope that years from now when newspapers and blogs cover Saturday Night Live's influence on the Trump administration, they remember to publish the correct photos!
13. 'Live From New York...'
And so you can enjoy it, here's Alec Baldwin's hilarious Donald Trump impression on Saturday Night Live.