On Late Night, Seth Meyers addressed the revelation this week that Donald Trump’s intelligence briefing book included coronavirus warnings throughout January and February. “While Trump was telling everyone it would disappear like a miracle and cases would soon go down to zero, he was getting private warnings that, actually, it was a big deal,” Meyers explained. “Which means either one of two things: he was lying, or he didn’t read it.” Both are probably true, because, as Meyers pointed out, “once Trump heard them refer to it as the novel coronavirus, he was never gonna read it, because he’s never gone near a novel. They should have told him it was called Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition coronavirus and he would’ve at least thumbed through it.”
Additional reports confirmed that Trump regularly skips not only reading the briefing, but the oral summary delivered two to three times a week. “What do they have to do to keep this guy’s attention? Have his daily briefings delivered by pageant contestants?” asked Meyers, impersonating a chipper pageant girl: “My name is Brianna, I’m from Battle Creek, Michigan, and a new virus spreading across the globe has a 3.4% mortality rate!”
But this tracks with what we know about Trump, Meyers concluded, and pointed to reports from early in Trump’s presidency that intelligence officials strategically placed his name, “killer graphics” such as photos and charts and tiny, and easily digestible “nuggets” of information in briefings to keep him reading. “He wants tiny nuggets! Killer graphics and to see his own name … so he wants a birthday party,” Meyers said. “He wants a child’s birthday party.”
On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert acknowledged a grim milestone: as of Wednesday, America has more than 1 million coronavirus cases and more fatalities than the Vietnam war. “There’s no getting around it,” said Colbert. “It’s a solemn day – for everyone except presidential son-in-law and man watching you enjoy that lollipop Jared Kushner,” who on Wednesday described the federal government’s response to the virus as a “great success story” on Fox News.
“Yes, it’s a great story – more people dying under this administration in 100 days than died in 20 years of the Vietnam war,” Colbert said in his snakiest Kushner impersonation. “That’s a story that need to be told, perhaps in the blockbuster movie Preventable Apocalypse Now.”
Colbert also discussed Mike Pence’s visit to the Mayo Clinic this week, in which he defied policy and refused to wear a mask. “Finally, a medical explanation for why seeing Mike Pence’s face makes you feel ill,” Colbert deadpanned. Asked why he disregarded rules on Tuesday, the vice-president claimed that “since he didn’t have the coronavirus”, he figured not wearing a mask offered a “good opportunity” to “speak to these researchers, these incredible healthcare personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you”.
“You can still look them in the eye with a mask!” Colbert said. “It’s not a blindfold. Also, ‘I don’t have coronavirus’ isn’t an excuse for not protecting other people. That’s like a guy saying ‘I don’t need to wear a condom. I want to look you in the eye and say thank you.’”
On Full Frontal, Samantha Bee called attention to the US postal service, an essential, if often overlooked, institution in dire financial straits. It’s hard to get excited about the postal service, Bee admitted, but it’s “hot as hell … I mean the workers wear knee shorts, they give it to us in the rain, sleet and snow, and they’re the only federal agency built entirely around on the principle of licking stuff.”
But without financial assistance from the government, it will run out of cash in June. Congressional Republicans rejected funding for the postal service in the latest stimulus bill, as Trump called it a “joke” and claimed it undercharges Amazon for its packages (his administration has debunked this) on account of his personal obsession with Jeff Bezos for owning the Washington Post.
The postal service, crucial for mail-in voting, has seen volume drop by a third, more than 1,200 workers out with coronavirus and many more concerned about lack of basic supplies and protections on the job. Still, it’s “one of the only federal agencies directly authorized in the constitution, and it’s one of the most democratic institutions we have”, Bee explained.
“But even if their voters like it, Republican leaders hate when the government actually works,” Bee added. “They’re been trying to undermine the postal service for decades, going back to 1982, when Ronald Reagan signed a law requiring NBC’s Thursday night lineup to feature at least one asshole mailman at all times.” In all seriousness, Republicans have in recent years tried to lower wages, reduce benefits and cut routes in an effort to privatize the service. “It’s ridiculous to expect the post office to be a money-making enterprise! It’s a public good,” Bee said. “Expecting the post office to turn a profit is like expecting public libraries to sell the right to use their bathroom.”
And on the Daily Show, Trevor Noah addressed food supply fears, as meat-processing plants across the country shut down due to coronavirus updates. Earlier this week, Trump signed an executive order under the Defense Production Act to keep some processing plants open and running at maximum capacity. “You know, I will say this about Trump: he is very clear about what his priorities are in life,” said Noah. “Because he was warned for months about the pandemic coming to America and he did practically nothing. But you tell the man once that there could be a beef shortage and he springs into action like the world’s hungriest superhero.”
Still, few places in America have experienced higher rates of coronavirus than meat-processing plants. And “although there doesn’t seem to be a danger to the food itself, in most of these facilities, the workers are quite literally putting their lives on the line”. At many plants, several thousand employees work in close proximity; workers have alleged they were given hairnets to use as face masks.
“It’s really sad that these workers are being forced to keep the food chain going but nobody is being forced to protect them while they do it,” Noah concluded. “They need equipment to keep safe while doing their jobs. And if you eat meat, you especially should want these workers to be treated right, because without them, the only way you’ll get your bacon is if you fight the pig yourself.”