SNL’s cold open this week featured a fictitious morning news show in Minnesota in which uncomfortable disagreements between anchors highlighted differences in how white and Black Americans perceive the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, and the state of racial progress.
After an initial series of agreements between the white anchors, played by Kate McKinnon and Alex Moffat, and the Black anchors, played by Ego Nwodim and Kenan Thompson, about how damning the evidence against Chauvin is, they run into trouble.
“Sounds like we all agree there’s no way Derek Chauvin walks away from this,” McKinnon optimistically says.
“Weeellllll,” responds Thompson with a scrunched-up face.
When Thompson explains that the defense is emphasizing Floyd’s drug use as a tactic to “create doubt where there is none,” McKinnon replies, “Exactly, and there’s no way the jury is going to fall for that.”
“I’m not saying that,” Thompson says as he tries to lower expectations.
“Let’s just say we’ve seen this movie before,” Nwodim chimes in.
As Vox’s German Lopez explained recently, police officers are prosecuted in less than 2 percent of fatal shootings, and a significantly smaller amount are convicted of a crime.
Moffat later pleads, “You guys can at least admit this country has made a lot of progress recently, yeah?”
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“For who?” Thompson asks skeptically.
“When?” says Nwodim.
Desperate to find common ground, the news anchors ask the weatherman, played by Chris Redd, to weigh in. He agrees, “Obviously it’s an open and shut case.”
“Thank you, yup!” Moffat says.
“That being said, he’s a white cop in Minnesota so I’m going to guess probation with pay, tops,” Redd says.
As the panel moves to discussion of possible solutions, they agree abstractly on the need for concrete solutions, but when it gets specific, there’s friction again.
“And we start with reparations,” Nwodim says.
“Now wait just a minute!” Moffat replies.
“That was a good trap,” Thompson quips.
“I thought I had him,” Nwodim declares.
As the panel tries to move on to other news, McKinnon announces, “We lost royalty yesterday,” referring to the death of Prince Philip, husband to Queen Elizabeth II.
“Yes, the rapper DMX died,” Nwodim says, nodding in agreement.