‘Saturday Night Live’ is the newest, hottest place to punk — and persuade — President Trump

 ·  Callum Borchers, The Washington Post   ·   Link to Article

President Trump says "Saturday Night Live" is "unwatchable." But, the veterans advocacy group VoteVets is so sure Trump tunes in that it has reportedly purchased advertising time on this weekend's episode, in an effort to deliver a message to the Oval Office.

VoteVets debuted an ad called "Act Like One" on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Monday and made clear that its strategy is to speak directly to the TV-addicted president, through his television screen.

VoteVets vice chair Peter Kauffmann said in a statement that his group is "going to go where we know Donald Trump is listening — 'Morning Joe' and the other shows that he obsesses over."

In the ad, a veteran who lost his right leg in Afghanistan addresses the commander in chief:

President Trump, I hear you watch the morning shows. Here’s what I do every morning. Look, you lost the popular vote, you’re having trouble drawing a crowd, and your approval rating keeps sinking. But kicking thousands of my fellow veterans off their health insurance by killing the Affordable Care Act and banning Muslims won’t help. And that’s not the America I sacrificed for. You want to be a legitimate president, sir? Then act like one.

Trump tweeted last June that he had stopped watching "Morning Joe," but it was a dubious claim. He continued to comment on the show's content throughout the campaign and has met at least twice with co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski since the election.

Just a couple weeks ago, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) spoke directly to Trump during an appearance on "Morning Joe."

"I know you’re watching," Cummings said. "Call me. I want to talk to you."

Trump called later that day.

The president seemingly can't stay away from "Morning Joe," and VoteVets is betting that the same is true of "Saturday Night Live," which Trump has hosted twice but which also has sharpened its mockery of him since last fall.

Alec Baldwin, whose impression of Trump has gotten under the president's skin, will host "SNL" this weekend. Trump reportedly fumed when Melissa McCarthy lampooned White House press secretary Sean Spicer last weekend, prompting old nemesis Rosie O'Donnell to say she wants to play senior White House adviser Stephen Bannon on a future episode.

Against that backdrop, how could Trump possibly resist the urge to watch on Saturday night? Answer: He can't.

Politico reported this week that programs known to be must-see TV for Trump are beginning to capitalize on their presidential audiences. "Morning Joe" has more than doubled its ad rates, while prime-time shows on Fox News have hiked ad prices by 50 percent, according to the report.

"Saturday Night Live" is enjoying its best ratings in 22 years; that alone is good for the show's ad business, and a claim to the president's attention can only help further — especially considering evidence that Trump is heavily influenced by what he sees on television. Last week, for example, he floated the idea of cutting off federal funding to the University of California at Berkeley, less than an hour after a Fox News commentator suggested the same.

If VoteVets wants a shot at changing the president's mind on Obamacare -- or anything else -- talking to him straight through the tube seems as promising as any other tactic.

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