Opinion by Dean Obeidallah
Updated: Sun, 22 May 2022 23:09:04 GMT
Editor's Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio's daily program "The Dean Obeidallah Show" and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @DeanObeidallah. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.
This weekend's episode of "Saturday Night Live" marked not only the season finale, but also the end for a few cast members of the iconic comedy show, including Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Pete Davidson.
Davidson's goodbye stole the show, because he did more than be funny. He perfectly called out the right's hypocrisy as well.
Davidson, who joined "SNL" in 2014 at age 20, delivered his farewell on the show's "Weekend Update." He began by joking when he first arrived at the show, "I was just a skinny kid that no one knew which race I was. And now everyone knows I'm White because I became hugely successful while barely showing up to work." He added, "Look at me now, I'm aging like an old banana."
From there, Davidson delivered a series of punchlines exposing the right for its glaring double standards. The 28-year-old comedian remarked, "A lot has changed. In three years, Fox News went from calling me a monster for making fun of Congressman Dan Crenshaw's eye patch to also making fun of Dan Crenshaw's eye patch." Davidson added, "Tucker Carlson called him 'eye patch McCain.' That's two veterans in one insult."
Davidson could not be more right. And it wasn't just that a Fox News host was mocking Crenshaw's war injury but that the same people on the right who attacked Davidson over his earlier joke about the lawmaker were now silent when Carlson did arguably worse. His remark wasn't on a comedy show but on an (alleged) news network.
As a reminder, in the lead-up to the 2018 election, Davidson sparked a backlash on the right when he joked on "Weekend Update" about Crenshaw, then a GOP congressional candidate -- who lost an eye from a war injury while serving in Afghanistan. Davidson -- with an image of Crenshaw on the screen -- said, "You may be surprised to hear he's a congressional candidate for Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie." Davidson then added, "I'm sorry. I know he lost his eye in war -- or whatever."
That was too much for many on the right, including Carlson, who slammed Davidson's joke on his show in a segment featuring an on-screen graphic which read, "SNL Sinks To New Low By Insulting Wounded Veteran."
Carlson then tried to claim Davidson somehow represented the Democratic Party, saying: "Well, for the past two years, the Democratic Party has outsourced much of its political philosophy to the late-night TV shows." Carlson concluded the message from "SNL" and the Democratic Party was "Republicans are disgusting," even if wounded in war.
Others on the right also screamed with outrage at Davidson's joke at the time, including the National Republican Congressional Committee, which demanded, "NBC should immediately apologize to Dan, and to the millions of veterans and military families who tune in every weekend."
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld condemned "SNL" and Davidson on Twitter for causing people to "laugh at a vet." Eric Trump, the son of the then-sitting President, went even further, tweeting "SNL" "should be ashamed of themselves for last night's show" and calling Davidson a gutless coward.
After the uproar, Crenshaw appeared on "SNL," and Davidson apologized, saying, "The man is a war hero, and he deserves all the respect in the world." Crenshaw responded he hoped from this incident that "Americans can forgive one another."
Last week Carlson, who has a history of pushing pro-Putin propaganda, slammed Crenshaw for his continued vocal support of US help for Ukraine against Russia's invasion, calling the congressman "eye patch McCain." Carlson was strategically linking Crenshaw to the late GOP Sen. John McCain, a frequent target of former President Donald Trump's, even after his death. But there was no need for Carlson to mock Crenshaw's war injury.
So where is the fury over Carlson's dig by those on the right who went ballistic over Davidson's 2018 joke? When I look through the Twitter feeds of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Gutfeld and others who slammed Davidson back then, I can't find a peep of criticism of Carlson.
This double standard sends an obvious message many on the right will only criticize people when they see a political upside to doing so. Going after a comedian such as Davidson who is part of the so-called liberal Hollywood elite is a political winner for them. Taking on the top-rated cable news host such as Carlson, part of the right's media ecosystem, is not.
Political self-interest also explains why we don't hear GOP leaders denounce Carlson for his repeated peddling of the "great replacement theory" allegedly cited by the gunman accused of killing 10 people recently in Buffalo, New York. (Carlson now says he doesn't know what the conspiracy theory is.) These Republicans don't see a political upside to denouncing Carlson's views. However, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, denounced the House GOP leadership last week for enabling white nationalism, white supremacy and antisemitism.
Davidson is leaving "SNL," and he will be missed. But it's abundantly clear the right's hypocrisy isn't going anywhere. In fact, we can expect to see it for many more seasons to come.