In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, on Nov. 9, 2016, Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States. That’s a statement much of America is still digesting in the wake of a contentious, emotionally charged campaign that left many feeling unsafe and unwanted in their country. After a trying day, late night hosts returned to the air to address the upset, as polls had previously pegged democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as the sure-fire winner. While most peppered their monologues with their usual batch of lighthearted one-liners, they also had more candid messages to share, and the late night hosts’ reactions to Trump’s presidency prove the fight for change isn’t over.
It’s worth applauding their composure in a time when things seem so bleak. Work was hard on Wednesday. I could barely muster the strength to roll out of bed and over to my laptop to write, let alone imagine anchoring a live television show for millions of viewers. Hosts weren’t discreet about their political alignments during this election season, and it wasn’t hard to guess which direction their tone would land when they took the stage. But rather than lament the loss, they looked ahead. They were encouraging and poised and clear, and their words were a necessary reminder that we need to keep pushing forward.
Samantha Bee Looked At The Silver Lining
Bee’s Full Frontal largely stuck to her signature tongue-in-cheek monologue, but she also offered some words of hope. "America is still a great country and it is still worth fighting for. It has Shonda Rhimes shows, peanut butter, Beyoncé, and Lin-Manuel Miranda rap-weeping at awards shows, and it has the beautiful U.S. constitution, which we should probably start teaching in schools,” she said. “We still have millions of nasty women who aren’t going away."
Conan O’Brien Put Things In Perspective
On TBS’ Conan, O’Brien chose to stay staunchly optimistic. “We have been here before. We have had bitter, angry elections for 200 years — whether it was Jefferson vs. Burr, Adams vs. Jackson, Lincoln vs. Douglas, Alien vs. Predator,” he said. “I choose today to be happy that we have fair and free elections at all… In the last couple of years, I’ve traveled to a bunch of countries — Cuba, Armenia, the Middle East — where the people would give anything, anything, to have our system. In America, we get to pick who’s going to ruin our country.”
Stephen Colbert Offered Advice On Moving Ahead
Though Colbert hosted an Election Night special on Showtime, it ended more somber than expected. On Wednesday, he was back on CBS’ The Late Show in slightly higher spirits. After a few minutes of wallowing, he encouraged his audience to buck up. “Don’t stop speaking up. Don’t ever be cowed by what happens in the next four years,” he said. “Tell [your kids] to work hard, care about other people, don't be selfish, don't grab them where they don't want to be grabbed, and they'll make the world a better place than Donald Trump can."
Seth Meyers Got Real
On Late Night, a choked up Seth Meyers spoke directly to the woman who will eventually claim the title of our first female president. “We don’t know who you are, but I imagine this moment today will be a defining one for you, one that will make you work harder and strive farther. Whoever you are, I hope I live to see your inauguration.” He also tried to see things from the other side, and offered his empathy to Trump supporters. “I felt a lot of emotions last night and into today; some sadness, some anger, some fear. But I’m also aware that those are the same emotions a lot of Trump supporters felt; emotions that led them to make their choice,” he said. “It would be wrong for me to think my emotions are somehow more authentic than their emotions.”
James Corden Opened Up
Corden, an English transplant, reflected on his own move to the U.S. during The Late Late Show. “When me and my wife told my son that we were going to be moving to America, he looked at us, and I'll never forget, and he said, 'Daddy that's great.' Somehow he knew this was a fantastic place to live," explained Corden, reminding us to stick together. “Whoever you voted for last night Trump, Hillary, those other two... now is the time more than ever to remember our values. It’s the tone you set that will define who we are. Treat people with love and respect — go out and put your arm around someone, even if you hate their politics, tell them that you care."
Trevor Noah Looked On the Bright Side
Trevor Noah, who also aired an election show special, was
still reeling from the announcement, but praised Trump’s progress in office so
far. “Since Trump won the election, no one can deny that he has been a
phenomenal president-elect. It’s been a great 19 hours. In fact, I say we use
this opportunity to start over with Trump,” he said, pointing to his victory
speech. “Trump was gracious, he was humble, he was compassionate. I’ll tell you
now, if that guy ran for president, he also would have lost to Donald Trump.”
Though we’ve often reveled in late night hosts’ searing political coverage over the course of this election season, their heartfelt words during an important and poignant moment proved to be the best relief of all.