‘SNL’ Gives Donald Trump Just 12 Minutes On Screen


When Donald Trump hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2004, he held forth in multiple sketches, like a spoof of “Regis and Kathie Lee” and a fake ad for “Donald Trump’s House of Wings.” In 2015, the show was considerably more stingy with his time.

Trump, the leading Republican candidate for U.S. President, was spotted on screen for just about 12 minutes, according to Variety‘s measurement of the episode, and possibly a little less. In contrast, Amy Schumer was on screen for between 25 minutes and 26 minutes when she hosted the October 10th broadcast of the program and Miley Cyrus was on camera for between 21 minutes and 22 minutes when she hosted the venerable late-night series’ 41st season opener on October 3.

Though Trump carried the opening monologue (with some help from Larry David and impressions by Taran Killam and Darrell Hammond) and appeared in the entirety of the show’s second sketch of the evening, he was not allowed to carry any segment of the program on his own. His minimal appearance on the show would suggest NBC was extremely cognizant of TV’s so-called “equal time” rule, which mandates that U.S. broadcast and radio stations that grant appearances to political candidates must provide an equal amount of time to other candidates who request it.

From early on in the show, it was clear “Saturday Night Live” writers and staff had devised creative ways to allude to Trump without necessarily putting the real-estate executive on screen. In one sketch, Trump told viewers that he would offer live-tweet commentary about the proceedings, rather than taking part in them. In the end, his tweets – adorned with a red, white and blue Trump logo – were fake.

On “Weekend Update,” Bobby Moynihan’s “Drunk Uncle” character praised some of Trump’s ideas, but Trump was not on hand to express them himself.  In another sketch, Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong reprised the porn-star pitchwomen they have played in several sketches over the years, this time promoting Trump’s campaign with malapropisms. Moynihan came on camera to utter Trump’s trademark line “It’s huuuuuge.”

Candidates who want equal time are not guaranteed to get what Trump received. NBC could send them to various programs operated by NBC News, or to NBC-owned stations or some of the network’s affiliates. But other people striving for the office could certainly gain publicity for themselves by making the request – and bring more scrutiny to the broadcast network, which is owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal unit. NBC could also make the case that it had Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton on “Saturday Night Live” during the season opener – and granting Trump, a Republican, time on this Saturday’s program shows it is acting in good faith.

To be sure, Trump made the most of his screen time. He had daughter Ivanka Trump join him in a sketch that looked at how he might conduct himself if he did win the Oval Office. He took an extended run at introducing a song by musical guest Sia, bantering with Kenan Thompson playing Toots Hibbert, the reggae musician who was the musical guest when Trump hosted in 2004.  And he played a member of a bar band trying to get attention for playing “laser harp.”

But Trump will not be remembered as being one of the show’s more versatile hosts. When regulars like Alec Baldwin or Justin Timberlake hold forth on “SNL,” they often show up in what seems like nearly every sketch. Trump did not provide the equal of those friends of the program, and it seems quite likely that NBC did not want him to do so.

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  1. Joanna Telli says:

    Literally how can anyone support him…? He has literally been proven to flip flop on everything…

  2. Sandra says:

    NBC is bound to follow FCC regs re: political candidates and advertising. That agency watched every single second of the lackluster trump episode, as well as monitoring trump’s ad where he bad mouthed Carson.
    NBC is aware of the issues and that is why trump’s time onscreen was minimized and he was not allowed to ad lib ANYTHING.
    Trump is a legal and political liability. NBC knows this. Let’s hope the equally lackluster Lorne Michaels realizes the depth of his lapse of judgment, leading to this moronic use of airtime and artists under contract. The SNL sponsors will suffer.
    I know one thing is a certainty. Brandon Tartikoff, the eminently intelligent gentleman who launched SNL, would never have stooped to this depth of craven greed. It appears Michaels did this out of a selfish attempt to add to his coffers. FAIL.

  3. I wasn’t amused. Just saddened that Lorne Michaels chose this low road to the demise of his storied franchise, pandering to a (literally) dying demographic, angry white men over 50. A year from now – at the most five – pundits will be saying this is the moment SNL definitively jumped the shark and lost any claim to relevance to contemporary culture.

    • Tartfart says:

      You sound angry and under educated. Embarrassing.

    • SludgeHeap says:

      Love hearing the politicized comments like this one from the liberal cesspool. The Clinton Creeps do a disservice to the also-young members associating with the common sense values of this “dying demographic.” Why is it always like the Republicans are the adults having to reign in the acting out of idealist children? Guess it’s like now half the country hasn’t grown up and the irresponsible mantra “If it feels right, do it” has turned in to “If it feels right, legalize it.”

    • The young become the old says:

      lol @ “dying demographic”. good luck with that! hahahaha!

  4. docweasel says:

    Comparing Trump’s screen time to actors and performers like Timberlake or Baldwin is stupid: Trump is not and never claimed to be an actor. The “less is more” rule applies here. Also, word is he nixed several sketches, which would have increased his screentime. They don’t have time to whip up new ones when he turns the prepared ones down, so they use other stock sketches they have “in the can” instead, which would not, of course, feature Trump. This writer is reading tea leaves that don’t exist.

  5. EK says:

    Full disclosure: not an SNL fan to begin with. It is not funny, forced and baseless. That said, this Trumped up version has to be one of its worst. Nothing funny and Trump an embarrassment, especially in terms of presidential aspirations. Did nothing for either the show or its “host” except, of course, boost sagging ratings. Betting it consistently lost views as the show wore boringly on. Sni is a very good vocalist but his/her act is unpleasant.

  6. zzz01 says:

    aren’t the very campaign laws you cite a good explanation of the lower on-screen time?

  7. Debbie says:

    Best SNL Ever… Stan is wrong. That is all.

    • Yuliy says:

      The show was pretty mediocre, even with all the Trump trolls like yourself, the trending topic in Twitter was about Larry David. His impersonation of Sanders and the Bad Girls video were the only salvageable parts.

  8. Stan Trew says:

    One of the worst SNLs ever…Writing wasn’t funny, Trump was barely even there, and even the audience response was negligible. If they did get YUUUGE ratings, it undoubtedly was a bad idea since the show was so lackluster.

  9. I can’t believe that haters will still try to bash Trump after a brilliant performance. It was a slap on the face to the hate group “deport racism” (because they promote more HATE than anything else exploiting children to scream profanities to sell their tshrits) and it shows Trump won this one. The only flat skit was the laser instrument, other than that the show was great, deal with it

    I sincerely hope Mr. Trump wins and turns this car around before it turns into another Detroit or Baltimore.

    – We don’t protect our borders.
    – We make stupid trade agreements with our enemies.
    – Riots and uprisings go completely unchallenged.
    – Entitlements are out of control
    – Health insurance rates for the middle class are over $500/month. Compare this with my $25/month car insurance from Insurance Panda…. Private enterprise is the way to go. Stay out of my health insurance, Obama!
    – 70% of young adults are drowning in student debt.
    – We are $20,000,000,000,000.00 in debt and the bills keep piling up!

    If he is sincere, wins, and rids the country of the illegals and fixes the legal/illegal immigration issue people will have his picture hanging in their living rooms.

    • Cooper says:

      We have been having an illegal immigration problem for 30+ years. Health insurance in america has sucked forever, rates have been going up every single year and blame Obama?

      Maybe if we didn’t go bomb Iraq and spent trillions of dollars for what? Entitlements? for corporate and oil companies? Nope, you love them.

      Bunch of regurgitate talking points from your GOP masters.

      • John says:

        I disagree with Jordan that this episode was a victory however I disagree with your uneducated points about health care in this country. The only good solution is to cut the middle man. Remove Obamacare and all healthcare and induce a centralized system which maximizes the money hospitals and doctors receive while also minimizing the amount of money patients have to pay. The cold hard truth is that healthcare is expensive because of the insurance agencies. Donald trump actually talks about this in his first debate and he makes some very outstanding point. You should listen to what he says rather than what the media says about him. You should listen to everything he says instead of the 7 second clips regurgitated from the media for the sole intention of making him look bad.

  10. Da original banton says:

    Snl sucks.

    You all watched cuz it was trump. He is not an actor so don’t pretend that he is. Why would u want him in for more then 12 min. All of you liberals are just moronic in your agenda. All politicians are fools. At least trump doesn’t sound like a politician. Minorities hate him cuz they are told to do so. You all love Barry cuz he keeps giving you free healthcare for not working or going to school. So please stop the nonsense and think for yourself. You have no clue about the implications that Barry and his liberals have done to healthcare , immigration. and education. But hey enjoy your free check and keep blaming everyone else for your issues

  11. GMT says:

    If Donald Trump’s on screen time was only 12 minutes, it did not seem that way to me.
    He has such a presence that I totally enjoyed SNL more than usual.
    I thought his time was just right to be in “good taste” and nothing that could be construed as controversial!
    FABULOUS job, Donald Trump!
    (and I also enjoyed seeing the skit with Ivanka)!

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