SNL closes the political education gap

By Ellen Garnett

Staff Writer

Let’s face it: Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton make it easy for us to laugh at their antics. Nevertheless, we should be thankful for the presidential debate renditions by “Saturday Night Live,” because they bring the election to the forefront of the media, and hence the average consumer’s mind, by utilizing satire.

saturday-night-live-politics

Alec Baldwin (left) plays Republican nominee Donald Trump and Kate Mckinnon (right) plays Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a cold open skit on “SNL.” Source: NBC

Think about all of the news that does not get this level of attention. How many times has Syria been in the news cycle in the last year for airstrikes in which hundreds of people were killed? How many of those times have we actually stopped to read these articles to know what is going on in the world? We know we should read them, but world news often takes a backseat in our minds because we do not see it as relevant to us in the U.S.

In the case of the 2016 presidential elections, “SNL” has made them even more relevant with its coverage, especially for millennial voters who often get their news from social media, according to research conducted by the Media Insight Project in 2015. The research found that 85 percent of millennials say “keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them,” and 45 percent say they regularly follow five or more “hard news” topics.

“SNL” busts through all of the clutter to not only poke fun at the presidential nominees, but also reiterate why it is so important to get out there and vote on Nov. 8. A new poll by Rock the Vote and USA Today found that 83 percent of millennials are registered to vote, which is good news, because they (we) are going to be the future of this country.

Critiques of “SNL” skits on presidential campaigns claim that the show may wield too much power over undecided voters. For the 2000 election coverage, Will Ferrell played Republican nominee George W. Bush on “SNL” and portrayed him as a dim-witted, lovable southerner. Some complained that Ferrell’s stardom weighed heavily on of the public’s impression of Bush, which could have ultimately helped him win office. While this is an understandable viewpoint, it seems very unlikely that America as a whole would entirely flock to one late night TV show to help them pick the next president of the U.S.

This year’s “SNL” skits on the presidential debates have not contributed to the “rigged” media that Trump claims. Instead, “SNL” is contributing to what actually makes our country great, Mr. Trump, by exercising its freedom of speech to support the foundation of democracy.

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