As vaccinations continued to launch America into a pandemic wind-down, Trevor Noah mulled the prospect of so-called “vaccine passports” – methods to present digital proof of one’s coronavirus vaccinations to gain entry to sporting events or international travel. “This can help give businesses peace of mind, you know?” the Daily Show host explained. “American businesses want to know that the customers who are legally carrying assault rifles into their store aren’t going to sneeze on anyone. It’s safe.”
Vaccine passports aren’t a novel concept – proof of vaccinations are often required for travel to many countries or for enrollment at college. “But just like most things in America, vaccine passports aren’t without controversy,” Noah said, as vaccine passport appear poised to be the focus of the next Covid culture war.
Republican governors in Texas and Florida have already banned businesses from requiring vaccine passports in their state, “and the very idea of vaccine passports has Fox News so freaked out they’ve started standing up for the undocumented,” said Noah.
In a montage of clips, Fox News commentators raged over vaccine passports as an “Orwellian infrastructure of control” and “antithetical to the American way”. The writer Naomi Wolf compared them to Nazi Germany and said they represented “the end of human liberty in the west”.
“First of all, this is not the end of human liberty in the west – that happened in 2001, when they shut down Napster,” Noah joked.
More seriously, “I really want to know what Fox News is gonna do when there’s an actual existential crisis, like a real one,” Noah continued. “Because everything for Fox News is a crisis, everything – Dr Seuss is a crisis, vaccination cards are a crisis. If America is ever invaded, Fox News is going to be like, ‘Yo, this is like that time they got rid of Mr Potato Head’s penis!”
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert discussed the Republican backlash to the corporate backlash to Georgia’s new restrictive voting law. The measure, passed by the Republican lawmakers and signed by the Republican governor, Brian Kemp, shortens the window for absentee voting, curtails access to ballot access for predominantly minority voters in urban counties, and makes offering food or water to voters waiting in line a misdemeanor.
Major League Baseball condemned the law, along with a slew of corporations including Delta, Home Depot, Aflac, Google, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Facebook and JP Morgan.
In response, some congressional Republicans called for a boycott of “Woke-a-Cola”, and found support from the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, who this week warned businesses of “serious consequences” if they continued oppose Georgia’s restrictive voting law.
“My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell told reporters. “Yes, corporations, Mitch McConnell wants you to stay out of politics,” Colbert deadpanned, “which is why I’m sure any day now he’s going to return the $4.3m he’s accepted from corporations in the last five years.”
McConnell’s “stay out of politics” line is grossly hypocritical, Colbert added, pointing to the Kentucky senator’s comments in 2013 after the Citizens United ruling, which considered corporations “people” free to express political speech through massive campaign contributions. “Under the first amendment, every corporation in America should be free to participate in the political process,” McConnell said at the time.
“I’d call that a self-own,” Colbert responded, “but he’s already 100% owned by corporations.”
And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel played footage from the sold-out Rangers game in Texas, where more than 38,000 fans, many without masks, attended the first sporting event in North America without crowd size restrictions.
“I like that adult men will go to a baseball stadium and wear a glove for the whole game for the one in 98,000 chance they might catch a foul ball, but mask? No way, out of the question,” Kimmel said. “You know how they kept the virus away? They did the wave and just fanned it all the way to Arkansas.”
Kimmel also touched on Donald Trump’s latest appearance on NewsMax, in which he dismissed Biden’s accomplishments in office as “other people must be making all of the decisions, but I could be wrong about that.”
“Now that things are going well, they can’t possibly credit Joe Biden for turning the country around,” Kimmel explained, “so Trump and company like to say someone else must be running the country.”