'SNL' weaponizes propaganda over Ukraine to influence laughter

In the imagination of “Saturday Night Live,” Russian propaganda has advanced beyond targeting uncles, aunts, grandmothers and grandfathers with information designed to impact U.S. elections.

As Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops at its border with Ukraine in recent weeks, the show envisioned savvy, pop culture-based Russian propaganda designed to create support for an invasion.

In the cold open, President Joe Biden, played by James Austin Johnson, was briefed by advisers and military personnel in the White House as he pondered the nation’s options.

They alerted him to Russian propaganda headlines circulating on Facebook in Ukraine, including, “Ukraine border encroaching on Russian troops.”

But one adviser, played by Ego Nwodim, told the president that not every example was worthy of alarm. “Those are the same people who said Tom Brady retired, so take it with a grain of salt,” she said.

Another Facebook headline was presented to the president: “American CDC strongly recommends Russia invade Ukraine.”

Asked if it was true, Biden said it was, but only for a few months in 2020. “The science was changing so fast,” he said.

Chloe Fineman appears in the opening of ‘Saturday Night Live’ on Jan. 29, 2022.NBC

Another propaganda-fueled headline said, “Neil Young to remove music from Spotify unless Ukraine surrenders.”

In reality, Young recently gave streaming service Spotify an ultimatum to remove his music or get rid of the show, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” over vaccine misinformation. Spotify has said it would remove Young’s music.

The Russian propaganda on “SNL” included different media, including memes and even a video made to look like a television commercial for State Farm.

In the spot, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was criticized for avoiding vaccination, said, “Like a good neighbor, Russia is there.”

News segment “Weekend Update,” also focused on Russia’s aggressive stance at the border with Ukraine.

But co-host Colin Jost noted Ukraine’s desire to calm nerves and avoid panic after a top Ukraine security official described panic as “the sister of failure.”

“Am I wrong,” Jost said as an image of Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump appeared. “I thought Ivanka was the sister of failure.”

Fellow anchor Michael Che noted the pending retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer amid calls from some liberal activists that he step down now, when Democrats hold the White House and the Senate.

Che said Breyer has been the subject of mean tweets.

“I sympathize with Breyer because I get those same tweets every Saturday night around this time,” Che said.

Willem Dafoe hosted. Katy Perry was the musical guest.

NBC Entertainment, which airs “Saturday Night Live,” NBC News, and Peacock are all subsidiaries of NBCUniversal.

source: nbcnews.com