Backlash over SNL skit focused on GOP lawmaker
The most recent episode of “Saturday Night Live” has sparked controversy over its cold opening, which parodied the recent congressional testimony from university presidents on rising incidents of antisemitism on college campuses.
The skit centered around Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who was portrayed by cast member Chloe Troast as she aggressively questioned the college presidents from Harvard, UPenn, and MIT on their handling of hate speech on their campuses.
“I am here today because hate speech has no place on college campuses. Hate speech belongs in Congress, on Elon Musk’s Twitter, in private dinners with my donors, and in public speeches by my work husband Donald Trump,” Troast’s Stefanik said in the skit, drawing criticism from viewers for its perceived focus on a GOP lawmaker instead of the controversial testimony of the college presidents.
One of the most vocal critics of the skit was former “The View” co-host Meghan McCain, who took to Twitter to blast the sketch as “vile.” She pointed out the recent increase in antisemitic hate crimes and questioned SNL’s decision to find humor in the serious issue.
Other viewers also expressed their disappointment with the cold opening, specifically noting how it seemed to make fun of Stefanik rather than the university presidents for their remarks during the hearing.
Digital strategist Greg Price wrote on Twitter, “After three university presidents were universally panned for their testimony about anti-Semitism on campus, SNL decided that @EliseStefanik was the one who embarrassed herself.”
This is the most embarrassing SNL skit I have EVER seen!
In a postmodern world, people think they get to choose their truth, and then rewrite everything in order to fit their narrative.
So SNL had a moral choice:
1- Admit the obvious: that the testimony of the presidents of… pic.twitter.com/ygtAN1KgBD
— Rabbi Shmuel Reichman (@ReichmanShmuel) December 10, 2023
Similarly, the conservative social media account “Libs of TikTok” tweeted, “@EliseStefanik handled the pro g*noc*de University Presidents beautifully. So of course SNL mocks her. This is so difficult to watch.”
Even the editor-in-chief of the satirical website The Babylon Bee, Kyle Mann, chimed in, describing the skit as “unfunny” for not mocking those on the same side of the political spectrum.
The real controversy surrounding the hearing was sparked by the university presidents’ responses to Stefanik’s questioning. Harvard president Claudine Gay, UPenn President Liz Magill, and MIT President Sally Kornbluth were widely condemned for their failure to directly address whether calling for the genocide of Jews violated campus policies.
Stefanik asked the university presidents, “At Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment?” to which Gay responded, “It can be, depending on the context.”
Magill’s response was similarly criticized as she stated, “If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment, yes,” but then added, “It is a context-dependent decision.”
Following the backlash, Gay issued an apology, stating that she “failed to convey what is my truth” during the hearing. Magill has since resigned from her position as UPenn president after facing intense criticism for her response.
The controversial skit on “Saturday Night Live” has reignited the debate on how institutions should address hate speech and incidents of antisemitism on college campuses. SNL has yet to respond to the backlash.