A lot of people are talking about NBC’s sudden purging of the “financial meltdown” sketch from last week’s Saturday Night Live. I watched it, actually laughed quite a bit, and was — as many others were — astonished that it aired at all.
Now it’s vanishing. And a lot of people are speculating on why, ascribing all sorts of sinister (in the classic sense) motives for it being pulled.
I was suspicious, too, until I learned about one key detail.
At one point, two people come on stage. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:
This is Herbert and Marion Sandler. Tell us your story.
Herbert Sandler: My wife and I had a company which aggressively marketed subprime mortgages, and then bundled them into securities to sell to banks such as Wachovia. Today, our portfolio is worth almost nothing — though at one point, it was worth close to $19 billion.
Pelosi: My God. I am so sorry. Were you able to sell it for anything.
Herbert Sandler: Yes, for $24 billion.
Pelosi: I see. So in that sense, you’re not so to speak, actual victims.
Herbert Sandler (chuckling): Oh, no. That would be Wachovia Bank.
Marion Sandler: Actually, we’ve done quite well. We’re very happy.
Herbert Sandler: We were sort of wondering why you asked us to come today.
Marion Sandler: Anyway, it’s delightful to see you, Nancy. (Kisses Pelosi.)
Herbert Sandler: And thank you, Congressman Frank, as well as many Republicans for helping block Congressional oversight of our corrupt activities.
They are identified on screen as “HERBERT & MARION SANDLER” and described as “people who should be shot.”
Slight problem here, one that should have raised red flags at NBC’s legal department: Herb and Marion Sandler are real people, and the description of their activities on Saturday Night Live bears more than a passing resemblance to the truth.
So we have the potential for a defamation lawsuit here. Toss in the chiron saying at the bottom that they should be shot, and we have something that goes far, far beyond the acceptable boundaries of acceptable satire and into legally actionable.
Rumor has it that the Sanders have already been in contact with NBC’s legal department, and that is what prompted NBC to take down the video.
That’s a damned shame. If half of what SNL alleged is true about them, then I have no problem with them being singled out for scorn and contempt and derision and mockery and, if possible, criminal and civil liability.
Especially when their politics are taken into account.
Calling for them to be shot, though? By name?
That’s way, way too far.
Those idiots at SNL. I’m almost convinced they put that in there as a way they could (relatively) safely scuttle the skit, while still getting credit for showing some “balance” on the political spectrum.
But that would be giving them too much credit, requiring too much Machiavellian cunning. I simply don’t think they’re that smart.
No, they’re just acting like the juveniles they are (mentally and emotionally, at least) and went overboard, and now they’re getting raked over the coals for it.