Politics at the Emmys: Toning It Down on Trump

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Here’s an Emmy snub: Donald Trump.

His name scarcely came up, if at all, during the 70th telecast.

Instead, the jokes were aimed at Hollywood itself, including its struggles with diversity and the fallout from MeToo. “You know, it’s an honor to be here sharing this night with the many, many talented and creative people in Hollywood who haven’t been caught yet,” Michael Che said in one of his opening quips.

Award shows are struggling with shrinking audiences, a function of so much content and splintered tastes. From the view on the right, middle America is tuning out, frustrated at all the political grandstanding that comes with kudocasts.

Colin Jost, in his monologue, referenced the declining ratings in his monologue, as he welcomed “the thousands of you here in the audience tonight and to the hundreds watching at home. Hi, Senior Living Senior Center.”

It was a contrast to last year, when Stephen Colbert hosted and Sean Spicer, Trump’s recently departed press secretary, made a surprise cameo.

Then, the political barbs were pervasive enough to earn a presidential tweet.

“I was saddened to see how bad the ratings were on the Emmys last night – the worst ever,” Trump wrote. “Smartest people of them all are the ‘DEPLORABLES.’”

Instead, Trump wasn’t even called out by name in the opening monologue. “The Obamas now even have their own production deal at Netflix. And my dream is that the only thing they produce is their own version of ‘The Apprentice,’ and it gets higher ratings,” Jost said. That’s pretty tame compared to what late night hosts say night after night about Trump.

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Their most biting line was reserved for Roseanne Barr. “‘Roseanne’ was canceled by herself, but picked up by white nationalists,” Jost quipped.

In the arrivals area, Sarah Sophie Flicker, the wife of “Glow” director Jesse Peretz, an Emmy nominee, had a temporary tattoo on her arm reading, “Stop Kavanaugh,” along with the number for the Senate, to protest Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Earlier in the day, the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a vote on his confirmation and scheduled a hearing to gather testimony from him and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault when they were high school students. Kavanaugh denies the claim.

The statements of the evening were subtle, like Rachel Brosnahan, winner for “The Fabulous Mrs. Maisel,” imploring viewers to vote.

Among the names curiously included in the In Memoriam segment was John McCain, who was not an entertainment figure but a politician and war hero. Perhaps that was the message: His recent passing inspired a call for a return of the politics of respect and order or to put it another way, a time without so much Trump.

Backstage, John Oliver, the host of “Last Week Tonight,” was asked what he thought of the lack of references to the president.

“In the drinking game, I think we’re just trying to keep America sober. Everyone needs their wits about them right now.”

Then, asked whether it was a sign that “we’re moving on” from Trump, he answered, “No. It fucking doesn’t. If anyone takes away from the Emmys that we are moving on past the presidency that we are currently half the way through or a quarter of the way through, we are totally fucked.”

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