On Thursday Trump used Twitter to decry mail-in voting – a standard practice for state elections – and to “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
“Oh great,” said Seth Meyers on Late Night, “so not only is he casually suggesting incinerating American democracy, he’s doing it like he’s offering hors d’oeuvres at a party.”
Though the president does not have the power to move an election – that is entrusted by the constitution to Congress – “it’s not enough to just consult your pocket constitution, shrug off the president’s tweet and move on, satisfied that we’ve outmaneuvered him with a factcheck,” said Meyers. That’s because “the craven husks around Trump are already laying the groundwork for Trump to do exactly what he wants to do, law be damned”.
For example, the attorney general, William Barr, was asked at a congressional hearing this week whether the president had the power to move an election. It’s “as straightforward a legal question as you could possibly get”, said Meyers, yet Barr treated the matter as a mystery, saying he had “never looked into it”. The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, when asked the same question at a separate hearing by Senator Tim Kaine on Thursday, said the department of justice “will make that legal determination”.
“No, they won’t,” Meyers retorted. “It’s in the constitution and federal law – it’s as clear as it could it possibly be.”
And while Meyers blasted some GOP lawmakers for avoiding standing up to Trump’s tweets and “solemnly furrowing their brows and then ducking behind plants and into elevators like they always do”, he also called out media outlets for relying on reassurances from other Republicans, such as the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that the election will occur as scheduled. “Stop giving them credit for that,” Meyers said. “That’s not a courageous stand, it’s just the bare minimum. Just because the bar is all the way on the floor doesn’t mean we have to give him credit for stepping over it.”
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah pushed back against the memeification of Breonna Taylor by revisiting the story of the 26-year-old EMT killed in her apartment by police in March. In the four months since her killing, Taylor’s name has been used as a rallying cry for racial justice in the nationwide protests and by celebrities such as LeBron James, Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey.
“If you’re online a lot, you’ve probably seen Breonna Taylor being turned into just another meme,” said Noah. “Whether it’s putting her name on a picture of Rihanna’s ass” – in which small text saying “arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” is overlaid on another photo – or “mentioning her death in some caption of a random selfie”.
The use of social media to advocate for justice can be good, Noah continued, but it’s a “medium that doesn’t always do sincerity well. It doesn’t do selflessness well. It struggles to give tragedies the gravity that they deserve.” Which means that some “well-intentioned” people, in trying to keep Taylor’s name trending or calling for justice, end up “essentially using her name as a punchline”.
Which is why Noah devoted a 12-minute segment to Taylor’s story – “not as a slogan or a post on your social media feed, but as a human being”.
In news clips, photos and interviews with her family members, the Daily Show remembered Taylor as a friend, sister, daughter, first responder and joyous TikTok dancer, before she was shot and killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police the night of 13 March.
The police entered Taylor’s apartment unannounced using a so-called “no-knock” warrant, based on inaccurate intel that she might have connections to a suspected drug dealer. Her boyfriend, suspecting a break-in, fired at the feet of the officers; the police showered the couple in bullets, eight of which struck Taylor, who was left on the floor without medical attention for 20 minutes until she died.
“We shouldn’t even be calling these things ‘no-knock’ raids – that gives them too much credit,” said Noah. “We should just drop the euphemism and call it what it is: a home invasion where police get to act like they’re in a video game.” A mistake is something done by accident, said Noah, but the errors leading up to Taylor’s killing crossed the line to “just actively not giving a fuck”.
“It’s one thing to shoot someone ‘accidentally’ eight times,” Noah added. “But leaving her on the floor without any medical attention? That isn’t an accident. That’s just a blatant disregard for black life.”
And while the three officers have still not been charged in her killing, dozens of mostly black protesters in Louisville have been arrested – further evidence that in America, “there are different criminal justice systems, depending on who you are”, said Noah. “There’s one for the rich and one for the poor. There’s one for white people, and there’s a different one for black people.
“And apparently there’s also one for those who oppose police brutality and those who commit it,” he added.
What happened to Taylor “is not even just about the cops”, Noah said – it’s the legislature that authorized police to break into houses, the judge that signed the warrant on Taylor’s house, the police department that declined to charge the three officers and the county that charged protesters instead.
“In other words, what happened to Breonna Taylor wasn’t a failure of the system,” Noah concluded. “It was the system working as it’s intended. And that is why people are fighting for the system to be changed.”