In the days since Jimmy Fallon’s maddeningly softball interview with Donald Trump on The Tonight Show, pundits have wondered if late-night comedians should have Trump on their shows at all, and if they do, whether it’s their job to ask him tough questions. The affable Fallon, who, admittedly, asks softball questions of everyone, clearly sees politics as a lane he should steer clear of.
Seth Meyers, meanwhile, holds no such view. Fallon’s NBC colleague and late-night compatriot has recognized that he has a powerful platform on which to inform Americans, and he is going to use it.
Meyers allocated 10 scathing minutes of his show last night (Sept. 19) to point out Trump’s copious lies regarding the longstanding conspiracy theory that US president Barack Obama was not born in America, otherwise known as the “birther” movement.
Meyers was responding to Trump’s recent campaign event at which, as if it were his choice to make, the candidate finally decided Obama was born in the US—but not before falsely blaming the entire controversy on his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and misstating his own role in its inception. Meyers didn’t mince words.
“Trump built his career on a racist lie, because he’s a racist and a liar,” Meyers said.
Meyers detailed the history of the “birther” conspiracy, showing several video clips of Trump questioning whether or not Obama was really born in the United States. In 2011, Obama released his official long-form birth certificate from the state of Hawaii, but Trump continued to proclaim the baseless theory that the evidence was somehow fabricated.
When the issue again came up during the current presidential campaign, Trump’s aides rushed to defend him. New Jersey governor Chris Christie told Jake Tapper on CNN that Trump had stopped prodding the conspiracy theory in 2011, a claim Meyers easily proved to be a lie by playing clips and showing tweets by Trump from well after 2011. In fact, Trump was questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate as recently as 2015.
“You don’t get to peddle racist rhetoric for five years and decide when it’s over,” Meyers added. “We decide when it’s over.”
While Meyers hasn’t at all been afraid to share his thoughts on the 2016 US presidential election, this was his most pointed and persuasive political segment yet. It was a far cry from Fallon tousling Trump’s hair a few nights before.
America, the choice is clear: Meyers is the late-night TV host we need right now.