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Saturday Night Live Needs to Be Saturday Night Done

The first two shows of the season suggest it’s time to put a wrap on the long-running series.

Andy Bloom



A photo of the Saturday Night Live logo

Saturday Night Live season 49 debuted two weeks ago with former cast member Pete Davidson hosting. Season 49, episode 2, this past weekend featured Bad Bunny (Benito Antonio Martinez Ocasio) as both host and musical guest. The first two shows of the season suggest it’s time to put a wrap on the long-running series. Although I could have written something similar at any point over the last several seasons, this autumn’s start makes me feel much stronger that it’s time.

Usually, Saturday Night Live starts each season with a bona fide superstar. Although previously, four past cast members hosted season premiers.

Chevy Chase, the breakout star from SNL’s first season, returned to host the season opener in 1982. By then, he had several successful movies. Amy Poehler was the host to open season 36 after leaving the cast after season 34. Maybe she is the most comparable to Davidson this season.

The other two are Tina Fey, SNL’s head writer and cast member from 1997-2006. She hosted the season opener in 2013 while starring in the successful TV series 30 Rock—also Chris Rock in 2020. Rock was part of the Saturday Night Live cast from 1990-93.

While the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike is over, the SAG-AFTRA strike continues. Through loopholes, the cast members of SNL are permitted to work with the union’s blessing. I’m unsure if the strike has impacted the show’s ability to obtain talent thus far. Maybe SNL felt it owed Davidson the opportunity after his scheduled hosting shot last season didn’t happen when the writers’ strike cut the season short.

Usually, the Saturday Night Live premiere has some of the funniest material of the season. The writers have had months to work on jokes without the pressure of writing for only one week. Perhaps they couldn’t work during the WGA strike, but the material was weak. Maybe “I’m Just Pete” would have been funnier if I had seen Barbie. Other skits were also unimpressive.

Weekend Update has turned into a test to see how ridiculous Michael Che can make Colin Jost look with inappropriate jokes. Sometimes, it works, other times, not so much. It took until the Update segment for the show to make its first Trump joke. Take of that what you will.

To be fair, the season 49 debut on October 14 drew 4.8 million viewers, a 19% increase from the 2022 season premiere. I’ll be surprised if the second show holds those numbers.

The second show, with Bad Bunny, was less impressive than the first and more confusing. Huge portions of the show were in Spanish, including the opening monologue, which actor Pedro Pascal “translated.” It felt like watching Univision more than NBC during some of these skits.

Is this part of a strategy to attract a more diverse audience, or was this the best option given Bad Bunny’s abilities?

Here lies the central strategic question: Is it better to stick with the audience that made the show popular since its 1975 debut and follow them to the grave, or should the show forsake the older audience and attempt to appeal to newer and younger viewers?

It’s a question SNL’s long-time executive producer Lorne Michaels must cope with, like many radio programmers.

SNL is trying to straddle the line. Clearly, Saturday Night Live is gearing more of its content toward younger and more diverse viewers, but then they bring 80-year-old Mick Jagger in for cameo appearances. In his first appearance, Jagger appears at the end of a sketch reminiscent of a Spanish soap opera. The comedic element in the skit belongs to cast member Punkie Johnson. Jagger comes in at the end. It seems to take the studio audience a moment to recognize him. Jagger’s first appearance on SNL in over 25 years is gratuitous and a poor use of a legend.

In his second cameo, during a skit called “Covnent Meeting,” which I guess is a pitch for Sister Act 3. In a sketch that, even by SNL standards, is a little racy, a group of nuns tries to figure out which one among them is actually a man. It appears obvious that the bearded Bad Bunny is the culprit. Jagger walks out to deliver the gag as “Sister Kevin,” confessing that he is “the one who corrupted these poor women.” Jagger also provides one of the episode’s funniest lines (realizing not all will find it funny) when he declares his actions are “probably the worst sex scandal in the history of the church.”

Forgetting whether the first two episodes of SNL season 49 were good or bad, the show has another problem. Throughout its history, SNL has delivered one breakout star after another. The current cast lacks star power.

From the original cast, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain, and John Belushi. Then, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy. The next generation included Billy Crystal, followed by some strong years with cast members including Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks, Victoria Jackson, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Mike Myers, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Chris Farley, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Norm Macdonald, Jim Breuer, Cheri Oteri, Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Colin Quinn, Ana Gasteyer, Chris Kattan, Tracy Morgan, Jimmy Fallon, Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers, Will Forte, Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig. Most of these, and with apologies to those I left out to not make the list too long, were dominant. Most had regular reappearing characters.

After the 2022 season, Saturday Night Live said goodbye to several long-time cast members who left after the 2022 season: Aidy Bryant (10 seasons), Kate McKinnon (11 seasons), Cecily Strong (11 seasons), Kyle Mooney (9 seasons), Pete Davidson (8 seasons), Alex Moffat (6 seasons), Melissa Villasenor (6 seasons) Beck Bennett (left after 2021 and 8 seasons). McKinnon and Strong were probably the last two SNL stars.

The current cast starts with Kenan Thompson, the longest-serving cast member in SNL history with 21 seasons. Thompson, along with Update anchors (and co-head writers) Michael Che (10 seasons) and Colin Jost (11 seasons), are the most recognizable cast members. The rest include Mikey Day (8th season), Chris Redd (5th season), Heidi Gardner (7th season), Ego Nwodim (6th season), Chole Fineman (5th season), Bowen Yang (5th season), Andrew Dismukes (4th season), Punkie Johnson (4th season), James Austin Johnson (3rd season), Sarah Sherman (3rd season), Marcello Hernandez (2nd season), Molly Kearney (2nd season), Michael Longfellow (2nd season) and the 2023 newcomer Chloe Troast.

Most of the current staff have had long enough to have an impact but haven’t. None have shown they are capable of creating memorable, repeatable sketches or characters such as Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, The Church Lady, two-wild and crazy guys, The Copy Guy, the Super Bass-O-Matic, Wayne & Garth, the Blues Brothers, Goat Boy, The Coneheads, Matt Foley motivational speaker, Da Bears Superfans, Coffee Talk, the cheerleaders, Debbie Downer, and so many more. There are the sayings, “But Noooooo!” “I’m  Chevy Chase, and you’re not.” “Buh-Bye,” “Party on Wayne, Party on Garth.” The impressions that began with Chevy Chase’s bumbling Gerald Ford to Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin that was so realistic that what she said on SNL pretending to be the 2008 Republican VP nominee was often attributed to the real Palin.

While James Austin Johnson does a pretty darn good Trump and adequate Biden, it’s never going to rival the other greats – some that weren’t actual impressions (Will Ferrall’s George W. Bush), some that were (Phil Hartman’s Bill Clinton) and others whose personas came to represent the person they were impersonating better than the real thing (such as Fey’s Palin and especially Dana Carvey’s George H.W. Bush).

I have no idea who Lorne Michaels looks at as possible cast members and who wasn’t ready to be a prime-time player the past five or six years, but the current SNL cast seems much more a nod to DEI than finding the funniest young comics available.

Now in its 49th season, SNL has a tremendous history. The show has catapulted dozens of cast members into superstardom. The show has suffered for many years as it focused on delivering a political message more than laughs. The cast lacks members with star power. Cast members who have been on the show for multiple seasons and failed to deliver one memorable character or catchphrase will not suddenly become breakout stars.

At the very least, an overhaul after a significant talent search for cast members and writers is the focus on funny, not political correctness – something Saturday Night Live was never known for, or DEI is necessary. But after watching the first two shows of the season, it feels like Saturday Night Live is more like Saturday Night Done.

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Why I’m Jumping Back Into Local TV

I want to join the fight for light that disinfects from the front lines. And there is no more advanced position than local news.



Jim Avila
(Photo: ABC News)

Yesterday, I started what I believe will be the final phase of my nearly 50-year career in broadcasting, spanning both radio and TV.

I have roamed the streets of San Francisco looking for breaking news as the late news reporter at KPIX-TV. I picked garlic in the fields of Gilroy to expose the terrible working conditions of California farmworkers for KCBS Radio.

In Chicago, I helped topple the democratic machine by exposing the dead voters registered in the Mayor’s race that tried to prevent Harold Washington — the city’s first black mayor — from winning an election.

Next stop? Los Angeles, where I covered the O.J. Simpson trial for KNBC, coverage that earned the station an Emmy and Golden Mic awards. It also earned me a ticket to NBC network news where I became a national correspondent for Tom Brokaw’s Nightly News. Our team picked up an Emmy for the flood and fire that destroyed Grand Forks, North Dakota, and led to assignments in New York for 9/11 and then off to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Next up were 18 intense years at ABC, where I served as 20/20 correspondent, Primetime correspondent, Senior Law and Justice correspondent, Senior National correspondent, and finally White House correspondent.

In 2020, after health issues, I retired and was offered the opportunity by Barrett News Media to write about the only true profession I have ever known. No longer bound by the rules of just the facts, I was invited to give my opinion on the junction of news and politics. I have enjoyed it and thank Jason Barrett — and you, the readers — for taking the time to follow my thoughts on the great institution of the news media.

But now it is time to return to actual journalism. I have been offered the privilege of reporting again. I have started a new adventure at KGTV ABC10 in San Diego. The location is ideal and the job as Senior Investigative Reporter will be a welcome challenge and a break from the retired life.

It also comes at a time when journalism is under attack by those who feel their opinions trump facts. (Pun intended).

So I want to join the fight for light that disinfects from the front lines. And there is no more advanced position than local news. I will be holding authorities and politicians to account. Keeping big business honest by protecting the little guy. I take pride in my career in journalism and I want young reporters to be proud as well. A free press unintimidated by would-be dictators is what is needed now more than ever.

So thanks, and once again, I will see you on TV.

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Is Oliver Stone the Michael Moore of 2024?

“They went too far in hating and in dumping on Trump. And people don’t like that in America. People don’t like dumping on. They did it too much.”

Rick Schultz



A photo of Bill Maher conversing with Oliver Stone
(Photo: Club Random)

In mid-2016, Americans felt the tide turning — with the country rallying around a Donald Trump electoral victory — when liberal filmmaker Michael Moore predicted Trump would win Michigan and the election. Could Oliver Stone be on a similar path in 2024?

Moore was prescient. He heard the people and could sense their overwhelming sentiment. More than anything, he was sounding the alarm bells for his fellow Democrats for what he felt was about to happen.

Last week a media member may have unknowingly let free the 2024 canary in the coal mine, and interestingly, this canary may have been another controversial filmmaker.

Oliver Stone appeared on Bill Maher’s podcast, Club Random, last week and seemed to echo many of the same sentiments from Moore’s premonition eight years earlier.

“Well, I mean, he doesn’t concede elections,” Maher said, bringing up President Trump in the far-ranging, free-flowing conversation. “You know, ‘The elections only count if we win’ theory of government. Okay. Well, come on. You know, Trump, he still has not conceded the election. He has not conceded. He does not honor them.”

“I mean, do you know for a fact that he lost? I’m just curious,” Stone responded. “I just don’t know all of the facts.”

Maher seemed astounded. 

“Well, I do. Is there a conspiracy theory that you don’t believe?” Maher asked Stone.

Perhaps Stone was referring to the piles of historical incongruencies and facts, all of which indicated a Trump 2020 win. 

No sitting president in the modern era has received more votes for re-election than in his initial election and lost. 

Of the 18 most dependable “swing counties” that normally indicate an electoral winner, Trump won 18 of 19. Yet, he lost the election. 

No Republican had ever won Florida, Ohio, and Iowa – considered to be a broad cross-section of the American electorate – and lost. Until Trump.

It is difficult to put Oliver Stone in a political box. He has mostly seemed to favor the libertarian philosophy of less government intrusion. On occasion, he has been critical of Trump, while also acknowledging the former President’s ability to tap into populist sentiment that the two seem to share. Less war. Fewer government shackles. More individual and economic freedom.   

“I’m just asking you. I’m not an expert on the election,” Stone told Maher. “I’m not a political junkie. You are. And you follow it very closely.”

“Alright then, I’ll give you the thumbnail sketch,” an agitated Maher said. “They tried it in like 60 courts. It was laughed out of every court, including by Republican judges. The people who saved this democracy were Republicans. Good Republicans. In states where Trump pressured them. Like the guy, the one he’s on trial for in Georgia. ‘Find me 11,000 votes.’ It’s on tape. A guy like that saying to him, ‘Sir, we just don’t do that here. I voted for you. I’m a Republican, but we just don’t do that.’ That’s what saved us. And they were Republicans.”

One of the most accurate political pollsters of the modern age, Richard Baris of Big Data Poll, posted on X that “Not even Oliver Stone buys it. Notice when (Bill Maher) tried to dismiss and refute his election concerns, he used a demonstrably false claim to ‘disprove’ it. Oliver, Bill is full of shit. It was not ‘tried’ in 70 courts. Judges used standing to dodge.”

Baris continued in another post, saying, “Also, (Bill Maher) grossly mischaracterized the phone call, using the common fake news talking points that Trump asked the (Georgia Secretary of State) to ‘find 11k votes’. Don’t be lazy, Bill. Read the transcript yourself. He was talking about signature verification and votes not properly scrutinized.”

In the podcast with Maher, Stone went on to say that he had major problems with the outcome of the 2000 election, which resulted in the victory of President George W. Bush. He similarly indicated that he didn’t think 2020 passed the smell test.

“I don’t know. I mean, you went through the 2000 election. That was horrifying to me, what happened when the Supreme Court closed that down.” Stone said.

“What should we do?” Maher asked. “Do we just keep counting votes forever? Or should we still be counting them now?”

“No. Count them correctly,” Stone responded. “Let’s just get rid of the electoral college. Let’s do a popular vote.”

Oliver Stone continued, calling out the media for their biased reporting in the era of Trump.

“I don’t know the facts,” Stone said. “And I think I would trust the accountants more than the politicians. And I’d like to know what the accountants, the guys who vote, who know the most about votes, who do the Electoral Commissions. I can’t take Biden’s word for it on anything.”

“Well, I mean, if there’s nothing that can be said or argued that would convince you,” Maher offered. 

“I think what shocked people is that Trump got so many votes. You know, that was what was shocking. That he did so well compared to what he was expected to do,” Stone said. “Because we believed all the East Coast media.”

“Then why do you believe he could have lost?” Maher asked his guest about Biden.

“We believed all the East Coast media elite that he was going to fail and boom, they were wrong. We would love to see them being wrong, don’t we? The media elite,” Stone said. “They went too far in hating and in dumping on Trump. And people don’t like that in America. People don’t like dumping on. They did it too much.”

Bill Maher even agreed with Stone, admitting that the media no longer attempts to give a balanced, truthful reporting of the day’s events. In addition, neither mentioned the years-long, Democrat-led coup attempt that was designed to trick the public into thinking Trump was a Russian agent. Most of the mainstream media parroted the hoax.

“I was actually having this discussion about the CNN network recently. And, you know, I want there to be a CNN in the world. You know, something that I used to be able to count on. And I still do, some of it. Give it to me straight, Doc. Just give me the news,” Maher said.

“And, you know, they had this town hall with Trump about six months ago. And it was, they took a lot of flack for it. But he was adored by the audience who were Republicans, I guess, and independents. I think they said both. But whoever it was, they fucking loved him. And then the panel comes on after and they do nothing but shit on Trump and what a liar he is.”

Like Michael Moore eight years prior, Oliver Stone seemed to be sounding the alarm bell about what’s over the horizon, a mere 11 months from now. He concluded by drawing the analogy of Trump to a legendary baseball player who was famously banished from the game over gambling allegations a few decades ago. 

“I think a lot of people liked him because he got dumped on so, so much. It’s like Pete Rose. You know, when he quit. Yeah. A lot of people started to resent the media for the dumping on Pete Rose.”

Oliver Stone is sounding the alarm. And the chirping canary very well may crescendo in 2024.

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How Did Trust in Media Reach All-Time Lows?

Somewhere along the line, Americans must agree on the facts, or we will continue to be a divided nation.

Andy Bloom



photo of a stack of newspapers

In my previous column, I wrote about Americans losing trust in the media.

Both conservatives and liberals can find ample examples to demonstrate why specific media sources are no longer trustworthy.

We have become a nation of two tribes. Each side has sources of news that it believes and considers the other side fake news or even propaganda.

The Economist and YouGov published a poll earlier this spring measuring how much trust Americans place in 56 media outlets, including social media. 

Respondents were asked whether they “trust, distrust, or neither trust nor distrust” each media organization. The percentage of trust minus mistrust scores was calculated to create a “net trust score” for each.

Overall, The Weather Channel, arguably the only non-political entity measured, is the most trusted news source. It is ironic, considering how often we all complain about the “weather people” getting it wrong. Democrats (+64) and Republicans (+47) trust The Weather Channel.

The top four most trusted organizations were the same as the 2022 YouGov survey.

Here are the overall rankings of the 45 organizations published in the Economist-YouGov Poll.

  1. The Weather Channel +53
  2. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) +30
  3. The BBC +29
  4. The Wall Street Journal +24
  5. Forbes +23
  6. The Associated Press +22
  7. ABC +21
  8. USA Today +21
  9. CBS +20
  10. Reuters +20
  11. NBC +19
  12. TIME Magazine +18
  13. The Washington Post +18
  14. National Public Radio (NPR) +16
  15. The Economist +16
  16. Business Insider +16
  17. The Guardian +15
  18. C-SPAN +14
  19. The New York Times +12
  20. Newsweek +12
  21. The New Yorker +10
  22. Bloomberg +10
  23. The Atlantic +10
  24. The National Review +8
  25. CNN +7
  26. New York Post +7
  27. The Hill +7
  28. Yahoo News +7
  29. Newsmax +6
  30. Axios +6
  31. Politico +6
  32. MSNBC +5
  33. One America News (OAN) +4
  34. The Washington Examiner +4
  35. Fox News +3
  36. The Federalist +3
  37. Slate +3
  38. Al Jazeera +1
  39. The Daily Beast +1
  40. HuffPost +1
  41. BuzzFeed News ±0
  42. Daily Kos −1
  43. Breitbart News −3
  44. The Daily Caller −4
  45. Infowars −16

Note: People who say the media organization is neither trustworthy nor untrustworthy, or that they don’t know, are not included in the calculation.

The differences between Democrats and Republicans are remarkable. In general, Republicans have less trust in the media overall.

Republicans have the most trust in Fox News and positive trust only in Fox News, the New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

Independents have a slight degree of trust in most news organizations, while Democrats have a significant degree of confidence in most of the media groups measured, except for Fox News.

OrganizationDemocrat Net TrustIndependent Net TrustRepublican Net Trust
Fox News-16-11+40
New York Post+18-1+3
New York Times+53+8-30
Wall Street Journal+42+19+9
Washington Post+51+14-14

Republicans and Democrats see information through completely different filters. The results for the entire survey, including crosstabs, can be found here.

Somewhere along the line, Americans must agree on the facts, or we will continue to be a divided nation. The media needs to do its part to bridge the divide.

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