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'Saturday Night Live' yanks, then reposts, controversial bailout sketch

The blogosphere erupted today with debate over a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that skewered President Bush, Democrats, homebuyers and subprime lenders for their roles in the mortgage meltdown.

As our colleague Peter Viles has documented on the L.A. Land blog, the furor wasn’t just over the provocative material but because the skit was mysteriously yanked off NBC’s website Monday. That fueled theories that the network was caving in to pressure from the well-connected Democrats parodied in the sketch.

As Viles wrote:

The skit, a parody of a C-SPAN news conference, ridiculed subprime borrowers, housing speculators and Herb and Marion Sandler, the real-life couple who built Golden West Financial into a subprime lending powerhouse and sold it to Wachovia before the subprime collapse. At one point in the skit, the Herb Sandler character says he made $24 billion off the subprime boom. Graphics then appear labeling the Sandlers as "People who should be shot."

The Sandlers are supporters of liberal causes such as the Center for American Progress and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Late today, a spokesman for the show said the sketch was temporarily removed because “upon review, we caught certain elements in the sketch that didn't meet our standards. We took it down and made some minor changes.”

The video was reposted on NBC’s website this afternoon and can be viewed above.

In a previously scheduled interview this afternoon to discuss “Saturday Night Live’s” upcoming prime-time specials, executive producer Lorne Michaels explained that he was not aware that the Sandlers were real people when the sketch aired Saturday night.

“I, in a state of complete ignorance, thought they were characters in the piece,” he said. “I did not know they were real, up until somebody called me about it on Monday. And I went, what? Now, that’s entirely my fault. Entirely.

“When I spoke to them, I can assure you this: They are very, very real. I think they were angry, I think distraught, I think they were not expecting to turn on the television and see that. First of all, I pleaded incompetence, which is not a thing I do often, and the fact that I did not know they were real is 100% my responsibility.”

The bit was penned by veteran “SNL” writer Jim Downey, who writes a large share of the show’s political sketches. Downey had heard of the Sandlers and “felt that from what he read and what he was basing it on, he thought it was a fair hit,” Michaels said.

But after speaking to the couple, Michaels said he and other executives decided to take the sketch offline to edit out the most offensive lines. The chryon under the couple that referred to them as “people who should be shot” was removed, as was a reference their “corrupt activities.”

He noted that the Sandlers did not request the changes but that he felt it was an appropriate step to take.

“I understand the Sandlers’ complaint,” Michaels said. “I think it’s not insignificant to read ‘People who should be shot’ underneath your name.”

But he stressed that the line was clearly satire and not meant literally. Rather, Michaels said, the sketch was an effort to skewer those who profited during a time when so many Americans have lost money.

“There are people over the last 10 years who made a pile of money,” he said. “And to most people, particularly to our audience, those numbers seem astounding. So whether they did anything wrong -- and there is absolutely no evidence that they did -- they are winners at a time when there’s an enormous amount of public anger about anyone who won.”

-- Matea Gold

 
Comments () | Archives (12)

Lorne is a class act. He did the honorable thing and removed the caption "People who should be shot" from the actors portraying people who should be shot. =)

(Would it be too obscure to say they should be wished into a cornfield?)

Your headline is misleading. It makes it sound like the video was reposted without changes.

Lorne Michaels should retire. If it weren't for this campaign and Palin, he would have nothing. SNL has not been relevant for more than ten years now. If it weren't for its rich history of talented comedians, for which Michaels gets too much credit, he would have no career. He is a modern day slave owner, who thrives off the hard work and talent of others.

You did not mention the disappearance of Sandler's thank-you to Barney Frank and other congress members for their defeating Bush's (and other Republicans and regulators) attempts to have more oversight on Freddie and Fannie. Removing the line about the Sandlers should be shot is indeed a good thing; but what justified the removal of the Frank portion when it is true and certainly a legitimate subject?

So Lorne decided that the Sandler comments went over the line-- but he decided to keep the slams on George Soros. George is a real person-- doesn't he deserve the same consideration that the Sandlers do?

If the Sandler's were Republicans, would Lorne be making the same changes? They should be shot (in a media/public opinion sense of the phrase).

However, it's refreshing that SNL is doing skits that are actually funny and relevant to current events. I still won't watch it though, there usually is only one good skit per episode.

They pulled it off the web site for fear of offending- that is something new for SNL. Creeping socialism and censorship- now that is what the Democrate party "brings to the table. NO THANKS

They cut out more than just the "People who should be shot" caption. If you were even just one percent the paper you presume yourselves to be--rather than just the Democrat's propoganda machine--you would have included it in your piece.

Excellent coverage, thanks for posting it.

The SNL Bailout skit is some of the best political satire I've seen in years. Lorne Michaels should be commended for airing it.

The Sandlers and other predatory lenders were the problem that started the mortgage meltdown. I think when this is mess over we will look at people like them as the main culprits that started this crisis. If only you could go to jail for scamming bliions. to all the readers in California, Neveda and Arizona whose houses have lost 40% of their value, blame the Sandlers!

The Sandlers aren't predatory lenders. and had nothing to do with the collapse of Wachovia. The skit was complete garbage.

Could someone please translate those legal-financial anacronyms for me. I mostly work in concession sales, so all that I know is the difference between a debit and a credit (although the more years that I keep the books, the more murky that distinction has become.

All that I can tell you for sure is that sometimes the movements of my arm and hand grasp and hold money coming in my direction, and sometimes my movements pass food items in the other direction. Items like popcorn, soda, and hotdogs. Which items my accountants tell me to sell because these allow me to report a high business expense to revenue ratio which is favorable to itemized deductions, well that where my hands go up above my head, and the popcorn flies in the wind. How much does it cost to open a giant bag of pre-popped popcorn? Or to hold a cup and fill it with soda? Or to put those hotdogs on the rollers?

You might actually be paying more for me to reach for your money than you actually are paying for the food that you ordered. And, customers might actually be paying the same amount for me to hand the food to them as they are paying for the wholesale costs of the food items themselves. Mind boggling.

It really is all in the movements.

I know that if I did the books, I'd be paying way more in taxes each month. And being a cash based business operator offerring no receipts to one time customers, it would be foolish to not hire an accountant who was an expert at such filings. I pay my accountant on the margin, that is, the more you save me in taxes, the more I pay you for your services.

I also sell pumpkins in October, and Christmas trees in November and December. The same financial practices apply. I have given up Easter baskets, its not the kind of thing people want to buy on a street corner, vacant lot, or at some sporting event or rock concert.

I was wondering if SNL, American Idol, or Idolexpose are part of the proposed Bailout legislation, to help out so that they don't have to file for bankruptcy.

If think the bailout bill is having trouble getting passed in congress - way too much b u t t e r in it for the auto makers. Perhaps they should consider making bicycles and cross country ski gear.


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