Saturday Night Live has been relentlessly mocked on Sunday due to an absolutely tone deaf cold open that portrayed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as out of touch for grilling elite university presidents.\
Earlier this week, the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania testified before congress on the rise of violent rhetoric emerging from pro–Palestine campus demonstrations. After a large group of Penn students and other protesters marched outside Jewish-owned businesses and chanted “intifada” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” in Philadelphia last week, Stefanik asked Penn President Liz Magill whether calls for genocide were permissible on campus.
Magill refused to do give a concrete answer, instead saying that context was needed to determine whether calls for genocide are to be condemned. The hearing led to intense pressure on Magill to resign, which she did on Saturday evening.
Hours after Magill’s resignation, Saturday Night Live aired its cold open that focused on the hearings. Despite public opinion overwhelmingly going against the university heads, Rep. Stefanik was portrayed with a nagging voice while asking stupid questions. The presidents meanwhile were portrayed as calm and controlled.
“Now I’m gonna start screaming questions at these women like I’m Billy Eichner. Anti-Semitism, yay or nay?” shouted SNL’s Chloe Troast, who was portraying Stefanik. Her questions were portrayed as entirely unreasonable and annoying to the university heads.
“MIT lady, change the seal. And keep in mind if you don’t say yes you’re gonna make me look good which is really really hard to do. So I’ll ask you straight up: do you think genocide is bad?” she continued. Troast then said that “hate speech” belongs on “Elon Musk’s Twitter and at private meetings with my donors.”
The sketch has been universally panned on social media, with several X users branding it as the show’s worst cold open in its nearly 50-year history.