Screengrab via Late Night with Seth Meyers/YouTube

Every late-night TV host went off on Trump’s ‘bats*t crazy press conference’

It was unlike anything they've ever seen.


Michelle Jaworski


Published Feb 17, 2017   Updated May 24, 2021, 11:44 pm CDT

Donald Trump’s wide-ranging, solo press conference—his first since his inauguration—covered everything from Russia and “fake news” to comparisons to a “fine-tuned machine” and mention of a “nuclear holocaust.” It mystified and baffled many who watched it. For late-night TV, it completely flipped the evening’s script.

In the case of Seth Meyers, whose daily “A Closer Look” segments have made him a major political force during the 2016 election and now for Trump’s presidency, that meant scrapping an entire script he and his staff had been working on since the night before. He tapes at 6:30pm ET, which can sometimes work to his advantage, but with the Trump administration, it also means that what he has planned might already be outdated by the time he goes to tape.

“By 1pm today we had a draft about Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare that we felt good about,” Meyers explained. “And then Donald Trump held what can only be described as a batshit crazy press conference that rendered this script completely meaningless, so if you don’t mind…”

He then took out a shredder to discard his original script and added, with a hint of sadness, “Bye dead jokes.”

He wasn’t the only one to call Trump’s press conference “crazy.” Stephen Colbert, who has covered presidencies since the early 2000s between The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Late Show, told his audience that “you’re going to want to use a spoon to get every drop of the crazy.” Trevor Noah even included “batshit crazy” in the title of his video about the press conference.

“We had a really nice show planned for you—very civil, very calm—and then, in the middle of the day, Hurricane Trump happened,” Noah said in a deadpan. “Again.”

They eventually settled down into looking at several pieces of the press conference, each of which could’ve easily filled an entire segment of TV. And they had plenty to choose from as Trump stumbled after being fact-checked, accused a Jewish reporter of calling him an anti-Semite after receiving a question about anti-Semitism, and asked April Ryan if she could set him up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus after assuming she knows them.

Colbert compared Trump’s response to being fact-checked by NBC’s Peter Alexander—”I was given that information”—to a famous misquote from Harry Truman.

Jimmy Kimmel, who’s more of an entertainer but was praised for being tough on Trump during his December 2015 interview, had some bite to his monologue as well.

“You know it’s a bad press conference when assuming all black people know each other wasn’t even the worst part of it,” he said.

“Here’s one redeeming quality about Donald Trump,” Noah said. “He’s an equal opportunity offender. Because it’s not just the Jews—he’s also got space for the blacks.”

Some of them also pointed to Trump’s prediction that the press would characterize his performance at the press conference as “ranting and raving.”

“He said he’s not ranting and raving, but again, what president hasn’t had to say ‘I’m not ranting and raving’?” Meyers asked. “Who can forget Lincoln’s tirade at Gettysburg? Or FDR’s fireside meltdowns? And of course, Ronald Reagan famously saying, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, if you don’t tear down this fucking wall, I’m going to lose my shit.’”

Jimmy Fallon, who isn’t as politically savvy as his colleagues (and has faced criticism for his most recent Trump interview since last September), took an entirely different approach. He took out his Trump impersonation and gave people who watched the press conference what might’ve been the last thing they wanted: a reenactment of that press conference.

He renamed Fox News “Faux News,” used a Magic 8 ball to determine what he called certain questions, and brought out a tiny hand to grab some water. It wasn’t as effective as some of Fallon’s other Trump impersonation sketches in the past, but after awhile, there’s only so much he can do before the real thing eclipses parody.

Share this article
*First Published: Feb 17, 2017, 10:07 am CST