“We’re once again being confronted with yet another deadly plague that has haunted this country for decades: the plague of gun violence,” said Seth Meyers on Wednesday night, referring to two deadly mass shootings, in Atlanta and Boulder in less than a week. “And in both cases, there has been a small minority of sociopaths with outsized power in our politics who stand in the way whenever the rest of us try to do something about it.”
On Monday, the day a 21-year-old man killed 10 people at a grocery store in Colorado, Fox News barely covered the shooting, Meyers explained; host Sean Hannity mentioned the shooting at the top of the show and then moved on to a segment about Biden tripping up the stairs of Air Force One.
“My God, get your priorities straight,” Meyers fumed. The Boulder shooting happened six days after a white man in Atlanta targeted Asian spas in Atlanta, killing eight amid a wave of anti-Asian violence, all while the pandemic continues “and your top story is the president tripping on the stairs?” Meyers fumed.
“How’s that going to go over with your sponsors? Aren’t most of them stairlift companies?”
Even worse, said Meyers, Hannity attacked Democrats on Tuesday’s show for “rushing to capitalize” on the Boulder shooting with gun safety legislation.
“You guys repeat the same bullshit line every time we go through this awful ritual: that gun safety advocates are somehow rushing to politicize it,” said Meyers, who riffed through some facts: the US gun violence epidemic killed 19,000 people in 2020, and the majority of Americans support gun safety reforms such as universal background checks, mandatory gun licenses and a ban on semi-automatic weapons. “It’s the politicians and their patrons in the gun lobby that are holding that up.”
In the wake of the Boulder and Atlanta shootings, many have once again called on Congress to pass gun safety legislation, while others “are calling on the NRA to pass the money bucket”, said Stephen Colbert. Republicans are trying “the same old cynical of switching the subject away from guns to things like mental health or video games or ‘look over there! It’s a Dr Seuss-themed gay wedding cake for the marriage of Pepé Le Pew and Mr Potato Head!’”
“We have more guns, that’s why we lead the world in gun violence,” the Late Show host explained, citing research which found that though the US is not more crime-prone than other developed countries, the omnipresence of guns makes crime far more lethal. “Our gun violence is different because we have guns,” said Colbert. “And until that changes, nothing will change. And that won’t change until everybody votes.”
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah discussed global outrage over violence against women, following the murder of Sarah Everard in London as she was walking home at night and the shooting of seven women in Atlanta because the killer blamed them for his “sex addiction”.
“For many women, every time they leave the house, it’s a risk,” Noah said. “And this is not something that men experience. Like when the pandemic hit, men were like, ‘so just going outside is dangerous now?’ And women were like, ‘yeah, just add it to the list.’”
Yet much of the discussion has focused on women’s behavior – why they were alone, what they were wearing – instead of the men who perpetrated violence. “You can’t solve violence against women without addressing the men committing it,” Noah said. “It would be like trying to address gun violence without restricting access to guns,” he added with a mock laugh. “I mean, who would be that stupid … to think that you could stop gun violence … without trying to stop access to guns.
“We have a responsibility to teach each other,” he concluded. “As men, we should be steering this conversation to where it belongs, centered on us. Because this is our responsibility not to be creeps. Let’s not make this the one thing that we don’t take credit for.”
And on Full Frontal, Samantha Bee tore into the NCAA’s mistreatment of female athletes at the March Madness college basketball tournament. After being criticized by some players for vast discrepancies in weight rooms between the men and women, the NCAA apologized “but their real message had already been sent”, said Bee. “Women athletes are worth less than men.”
The NCAA also provided the women with less opulent swag bags, lower-quality food and less accurate Covid tests. “Basically, while the men got the gold standard of virus testing, the NCAA asked women to cough into a handkerchief and whisper ‘it’s nothing,’” Bee joked.
It’s a stark manifestation of larger inequalities: the NCAA pays men’s conferences hundreds of thousands of dollars, but provides no payouts at all to women’s teams. The 1972 measure known as Title IX bars sex discrimination in college athletics for schools that receive federal aid, but many schools don’t comply, and the NCAA is not subject to it. “That’s not a loophole, that’s all-hole,” said Bee.
“The fact is, women’s NCAA basketball is an ‘if you build it they will come’ situation. The more support and coverage women’s athletes get means the more the NCAA can make selling their games,” she concluded. “This isn’t complicated.”