Saturday Night Live is racking up ratings with its political satire this season, so why did NBC yank a popular sketch that skewered Democrats and subprime lenders off the Internet?
The sketch, which lampooned a C-SPAN news conference about the government's economic bailout package, labeled a couple as "People who should be shot" for making $24 billion off the subprime bonanza. Funny, right? Not when the characters, Herb and Marion Sandler, are a real-life couple who built Golden West Financial into a super lender and sold out to Wachovia.
A firestorm on the blogosphere had Conservative columnists praising the sketch after SNL's repeated Sarah Palin bashing, and immediately suggesting the Sandlers and a few other "connected" Democrats pulled a few strings to get it removed after the show aired on Saturday.
Shortly after NBC pulled the sketch from the Internet, it was reposted without references to the couple's "corrupt activities" and their being shot.
"Upon review, we caught certain elements in the sketch that didn't meet our standards," and NBC spokesman said after the edited video was launched. "We took it down and made some minor changes."
But who was asleep at the "standards" switch? Executive producer Lorne Michaels takes full responsibility, admitting that he didn't know the Sandlers were real people. "I, in a state of complete ignorance, thought they were characters in the piece," he told the L.A. Times. "I did not know they were real, up until somebody called me about it on Monday. Now, that's entirely my fault. Entirely."
Michaels did point out that Sandler, who spoke with him, did not ask that any changes be made. Michaels also reiterated that the original controversial statement should be taken as satire of the very serious situation facing the country.
"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."
You can watch the (edited) video here. Do you think NBC did the right thing?