“You know, with the spread of coronavirus, we’re learning so many things,” said Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s Daily Social Distancing Show. “We’re learning how fragile our medical systems are, we’re learning that we need a stronger safety net in society, we’re learning we need to pay teachers more. We’re learning that thinking about exercise is not the same as actually doing it.”
And we’re also learning “which leaders around the world deserve the title of ‘leader’”. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, for example, expanded his powers to rule by decree until the pandemic is over, “which essentially makes him a dictator for as long as he wants”, Noah explained. And in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko advised citizens to protect themselves from coronavirus by chasing a sauna visit with vodka two to three times a week. “That’s a real thing a president said, and you know your medical advice is bad when it makes Goop look reasonable,” said Noah.
But “if you’re going to talk about leaders who don’t deserve the title leader”, said Noah, “you would be remiss if you didn’t mention the man himself”: Donald Trump, who every day “shows us why he is not the right leader for this moment … or any other moment”. Luckily, said Noah, the president has backed down from his plan to reopen the economy by Easter (12 April), “but he does continue to make a fool of himself”.
For example, on Monday, he confidently overstated the population of Seoul by 28 million people. “This is why I don’t think Trump is a billionaire,” said Noah. “Not because he’s a liar, not because he’s a fraud, just because I don’t think he understands how numbers work.”
Coronavirus has offered disheartening examples of “failing” leadership, Noah concluded, but some are rising to the occasion: South Korea’s government took the threat seriously and handed control of the crisis to medical experts. South Africa’s president didn’t hesitate to shut down the country. “And here in America, in the absence of leadership from the White House, governors from California to Ohio are stepping up to fill the void,” Noah said. “Basically, what’s happening in America is whatever happens when a family has like an alcoholic dad and the kids just have to raise themselves.”
From his home in New Jersey, Stephen Colbert – wearing a suit jacket on top but no dress pants – offered some good news: new data suggests that physical restrictions are slowing the spread of coronavirus infections. “It’s working!” he said. “Just keep doing it, America, and by it, of course, I mean nothing.”
Colbert also explained why he hasn’t discussed Trump, the standard target of his monologues, for the last month: “While he’s commander-in-chief, he’s just not that helpful. But since he is the president of the United States and he is holding daily briefings to update us on this national emergency, let’s check in with how he has addressed this unprecedented crisis.”
Colbert cracked a beer as Trump praised his hair and solicited expertise from the CEO of MyPillow. “It’s no surprise Trump would introduce the MyPillow guy at a presidential briefing – it’s a tradition going back to Harry Truman announcing victory in the Pacific with Chef Boyardee,” Colbert deadpanned.
On Late Night, Seth Meyers interviewed the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who dodged a question on whether she would join a 2020 presidential ticket as vice-president. “I’m focused right now on this crisis,” she said.
Meyers followed up with a question about her endorsement: “You haven’t endorsed a candidate yet, and it certainly seems like your positions line up more in lockstep with Senator Sanders than they do with Joe Biden. Are you going to endorse, or is this something you’re considering to wait on?”
Warren dodged again: “You know, again, I really want to say that, right now, it’s less about the politics and much more about the crisis that our country is in, and I think that’s really where our focus has got to be at this moment,” she replied. “So that’s where I’m keeping my attention right now. We don’t get to do any political rallies at this moment anyway.”
Warren also praised Kate McKinnon’s impersonation of her on Saturday Night Live (“She’s such an incredibly talented comedian”), recalled how she once was mistaken for McKinnon in a grocery store, and confirmed a rumor that she fought between dress rehearsal and the live show to keep several lines in her scene. “I can tell you, having worked there and having been a writer on the show,” said Meyers, “the writers who wrote those lines, the fact that you fought for them – they will be fans of yours forever.”
In Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel recapped Trump’s frequent touching of the communal White House microphone at his press briefings. “We just witnessed a battle between ignorance and germaphobia,” he said of one clip, “and germaphobia got knocked out cold.”
Tuesday was the first day of work for Trump’s new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman who’s “one of Trump’s most enthusiastic suck-ups”, said Kimmel. “In fact, the only reason he agreed to take the job of chief of staff is because he found out first lady was taken already.
“Can you think of any worse first day of work than in the Trump administration in the middle of a pandemic?” Kimmel wondered. “I would rather be the assistant manager at Popeye’s the day those chicken sandwiches came out.”
And finally, ABC announced that it has cancelled the Bachelor Summer Games. “This suddenly just got real for me,” said Kimmel. “I guess they had no choice, but the truth is, corona is only the third most dangerous virus lurking in the Bachelor hot tub.”