Saturday Night Live stepped into 2018 with Bill Murray’s Steve Bannon and Fred Armisen’s Michael Wolff. The two SNL alums appeared in the show’s cold open Saturday evening that also added Leslie Jones as Oprah Winfrey in a skit that captured some of the silliness of the current moment — a gossipy, factually questionable book taking down a figure who was often cast as a Republican kingmaker, and a debate about whether Oprah should run for president.
The open was a sendup of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with Kate McKinnon playing Mika Brzezinski and Alex Moffat as Joe Scarborough. They play the couple as over-the-top flirtatious and obnoxious, with Moffat repeatedly interrupting a guest brought on to discuss President Donald Trump’s “shithole” remarks about Haiti and African countries and McKinnon wavering between annoyed and outraged.
Then Armisen appears as Wolff, the New York media journalist whose salacious new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, has been gossip fodder in recent days. Some of the book’s contents have been, well, questionable — a few of its details are demonstrably wrong — and SNL plays that up. Armisen offers up “baby races” when asked what he didn’t include in the book.
“Trump would ask to have two babies placed in his office, usually of different ethnicities,” Armisen said. “Someone would put a bowl of Goldfish crackers on the other side of the room, and Trump would say, ‘A thousand bucks on the black one.’”
Michael Wolff (Fred Armisen) reveals what didn't make it into "Fire and Fury." #SNL pic.twitter.com/Q0mBaNOy9p— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) January 14, 2018
When asked by MSNBC host Willie Geist (played by Mikey Day) about the inaccuracies in his reporting, Armisen’s Wolff responds, as everyone nods along:
Look, you read it, right? And you liked it, you had fun? Well what’s the problem? You got the gist, so shut up. You know, even the stuff that’s not true, it’s true.
Then appears Bill Murray as Steve Bannon, donning his famous layered black shirts. SNL has previously always portrayed Bannon as the Grim Reaper, but apparently a fallen Bannon is a Murray Bannon. (Bannon was ousted from Breitbart News this week as part of the fallout from the Wolff book.)
“My God, Steve, I always thought you looked like death, but this is death warmed over,” McKinnon remarked in a nod to SNL’s prior portrayal.
Welcome to the show, Mr. Bannon. #SNL pic.twitter.com/805PXTv14k— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) January 14, 2018
Murray said in the short term he would be working on some new projects — a web series called “Cucks in Cars Getting Coffee,” a line of wrinkled jackets called “frumpers for guys,” and a new skin care product called “Blotch.” But, he said, Bannon still believes he’s a GOP kingmaker.
“I convinced this country to elect Donald, and I can do it again,” Murray said. “Already auditioning candidates, got some prospects: Logan Paul, Martin Shkreli, the Subway guy, Jared Fogle, he’s back, he’s electable. It’s time for America to slide down the ‘Bannonster.’”
Paul is a 22-year-old YouTube prankster who posted a video showing the body of a suicide victim in Japan; Shkreli is the infamous “pharma bro” who hiked prices on a lifesaving drug; Fogle is the former Subway spokesperson currently in prison for paying for sex with minors and possessing child pornography.
Things begin to feel pretty dark, with an exasperated McKinnon complaining, “The America we loved is over, and no one is coming to save us, and no one can.” Then the shot cuts to Jones as Oprah Winfrey, declaring, “I’m here!” Winfrey sparked speculation that she might run for president in 2020 with a moving speech at the Golden Globes last weekend.
“Oprah, are you running?” Moffat asks. Jones’s response:
Well, I am a celebrity, so I’m qualified. But I’m different from Donald Trump because I’m actually a billionaire. So who knows? I mean, there’s only one job in the world more powerful than being president: being Oprah.