Best of Late Night: Seth Meyers Wonders if the Cohen Raid Spells Doom for the President


Colbert then rolled a 2011 clip in which his character on that show, a mock conservative commentator, argues: “For too long, our mortal enemies the Chinese have been using pandas’ cuteness to infiltrate our hearts. Never forget that they are panda bears: godless killing machines.”

Here’s how Colbert lampooned Carlson:

“Tucker Carlson stole my bit! And not just the panda thing. He also stole acting incredibly stupid while wearing an ill-fitting suit.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

“If this is how Fox News reacts to giant stories like the Cohen raid, I can’t wait to see how they’ll cover the next big development of the Trump investigation. ‘Robert Mueller arrested the president today. Now our lead story: Penguins look like they’re dressed all fancy, but in fact they’re actually nude — with their feathery junk just hanging out. Could you be next?’” — STEPHEN COLBERT

Facebook Under Fire

Video by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

The hosts took some easy shots at a double target: Mark Zuckerberg and the senators who grilled him at a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

“Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before a joint Senate commerce and judiciary committee today, in front of a bunch of people whose password is definitely ‘password.’” — SETH MEYERS

“Here, get ready, here’s our full coverage: Nerds are awkward, old people don’t know how the internet works.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

“In a way, I feel like Zuckerberg has already experienced the worst punishment of all: He had to spend four hours explaining Facebook to senior citizens.” — TREVOR NOAH

“Experts say the majority of Facebook users had their data harvested from taking online quizzes. Yeah, so it’s worse than we thought: Now Russia knows how stupid we are.” — CONAN O’BRIEN

The Punchiest Punchlines (Confession Edition)

Video by The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

“It seems like everyone in Trump’s world is corrupt. Like, I bet even when he goes to confession, he’s like, ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,’ and his priest is like, ‘Yo, you should hear the [expletive] I’ve been getting into!’” — TREVOR NOAH

“An Arizona mom was arrested after her toddler ate mac and cheese laced with marijuana. The Arizona mom was charged with impersonating a Florida mom.” — CONAN O’BRIEN

The Bits Worth Watching

O’Brien doesn’t have much faith in the “delete Facebook” hashtag.

Video by Team Coco

The game was charades, but folks really showed their skills in the celebrations.

Video by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

What We’re Excited About on Wednesday Night

Video by Team Coco

O’Brien has made a cottage industry of travel-abroad specials, and on Wednesday he’ll present his newest one: “Conan in Italy,” featuring his comic foil, Jordan Schlansky, a “Conan” producer who’s also a self-professed Italophile.

Also, Check This Out

Photo

Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson, once and future will-they-or-won’t-they partners, in the Season 7 premiere of “New Girl.”

Credit
Ray Mickshaw/Fox

Zooey Deschanel’s comedy series “New Girl” returns for a seventh season this week, and it’s sticking to its guns. That’s O.K., but it leaves something to be desired, our critic writes.

Continue reading the main story

Best of Late Night: Seth Meyers Wonders if the Cohen Raid Spells Doom for the President


Colbert then rolled a 2011 clip in which his character on that show, a mock conservative commentator, argues: “For too long, our mortal enemies the Chinese have been using pandas’ cuteness to infiltrate our hearts. Never forget that they are panda bears: godless killing machines.”

Here’s how Colbert lampooned Carlson:

“Tucker Carlson stole my bit! And not just the panda thing. He also stole acting incredibly stupid while wearing an ill-fitting suit.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

“If this is how Fox News reacts to giant stories like the Cohen raid, I can’t wait to see how they’ll cover the next big development of the Trump investigation. ‘Robert Mueller arrested the president today. Now our lead story: Penguins look like they’re dressed all fancy, but in fact they’re actually nude — with their feathery junk just hanging out. Could you be next?’” — STEPHEN COLBERT

Facebook Under Fire

Video by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

The hosts took some easy shots at a double target: Mark Zuckerberg and the senators who grilled him at a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

“Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before a joint Senate commerce and judiciary committee today, in front of a bunch of people whose password is definitely ‘password.’” — SETH MEYERS

“Here, get ready, here’s our full coverage: Nerds are awkward, old people don’t know how the internet works.” — STEPHEN COLBERT

“In a way, I feel like Zuckerberg has already experienced the worst punishment of all: He had to spend four hours explaining Facebook to senior citizens.” — TREVOR NOAH

“Experts say the majority of Facebook users had their data harvested from taking online quizzes. Yeah, so it’s worse than we thought: Now Russia knows how stupid we are.” — CONAN O’BRIEN

The Punchiest Punchlines (Confession Edition)

Video by The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

“It seems like everyone in Trump’s world is corrupt. Like, I bet even when he goes to confession, he’s like, ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned,’ and his priest is like, ‘Yo, you should hear the [expletive] I’ve been getting into!’” — TREVOR NOAH

“An Arizona mom was arrested after her toddler ate mac and cheese laced with marijuana. The Arizona mom was charged with impersonating a Florida mom.” — CONAN O’BRIEN

The Bits Worth Watching

O’Brien doesn’t have much faith in the “delete Facebook” hashtag.

Video by Team Coco

The game was charades, but folks really showed their skills in the celebrations.

Video by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

What We’re Excited About on Wednesday Night

Video by Team Coco

O’Brien has made a cottage industry of travel-abroad specials, and on Wednesday he’ll present his newest one: “Conan in Italy,” featuring his comic foil, Jordan Schlansky, a “Conan” producer who’s also a self-professed Italophile.

Also, Check This Out

Photo

Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson, once and future will-they-or-won’t-they partners, in the Season 7 premiere of “New Girl.”

Credit
Ray Mickshaw/Fox

Zooey Deschanel’s comedy series “New Girl” returns for a seventh season this week, and it’s sticking to its guns. That’s O.K., but it leaves something to be desired, our critic writes.

Continue reading the main story

‘You Hate America!’: How ‘the Caravan’ Story Exploded on the Right


The sensationalization of this story and others like it seems to serve a common purpose for Mr. Trump and other immigration hard-liners: to highlight the twin dangers of freely roving migrants — especially those from Muslim countries — and lax immigration laws that grant them easy entry into Western nations.

The narrative on the right this week, for example, mostly omitted that many people in the caravan planned to resettle in Mexico, not the United States. And it ignored how many of those who did intend to come here would probably go through the legal process of requesting asylum at a border checkpoint — something miles of new wall and battalions of additional border patrol would not have stopped.

“They end up in schools on Long Island, some of which are MS-13!” declared Brian Kilmeade on the president’s preferred morning news program, “Fox & Friends,” referring to the predominantly Central American gang.

The coverage became so distorted that it prompted a reporter for Breitbart News who covers border migration, Brandon Darby, to push back. “I’m seeing a lot of right media cover this as ‘people coming illegally’ or as ‘illegal aliens.’ That is incorrect,” he wrote on Twitter. “They are coming to a port of entry and requesting refugee status. That is legal.”

In an interview, Mr. Darby said it was regrettable that the relatively routine occurrence of migrant caravans — which organizers rely on as a safety-in-numbers precaution against the violence that can happen along the trek — was being politicized. “The caravan isn’t something that’s a unique event,” he said. “And I think people are looking at it wrong. If you’re upset at the situation, it’s easier to be mad at the migrant than it is to be mad at the political leaders on both sides who won’t change the laws.”

As tends to be the case in these stories, the humanitarian aspects get glossed over as migrants are collapsed into one maligned category: hostile foreign invaders.

In November, Mr. Trump touched off an international furor when he posted a series of videos on Twitter that purported to show the effects of mass Muslim migration in Europe. Initially circulated by a fringe ultranationalist in Britain who has railed against Islam, the videos included titles like “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”

Photo

Migrants traveling through Mexico at a stop on Wednesday in Matías Romero, in Oaxaca State. The story of “the caravan” followed a narrative involving refugees and migrants that have roused intense suspicion and outrage on the right.

Credit
Felix Marquez/Associated Press

The assailant in one video the president shared, however, was not a “Muslim migrant.” And the other two videos depicted four-year-old events with no explanation.

These items tend to metastasize irrespective of the facts, but contain powerful visual elements to which Mr. Trump is known to viscerally respond.

Last February, Mr. Trump insinuated that some kind of terror-related episode involving Muslim immigrants had taken place in Sweden. “Who would believe this? Sweden,” he said at a rally in Florida, leaving Swedes and Americans baffled because nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

Like the caravan story, which apparently came to Mr. Trump’s attention as he watched “Fox & Friends,” the president was referring to something he had seen on cable news. And he later had to clarify that he was referring to a Fox News segment on issues Sweden was having with migrants generally, not any particular event.

The conservative National Review later called the piece in question “sensationalistic” and pointed out that a lack of government data made it virtually impossible to determine whether crime rates in the country were related to immigration.

When the president himself has not spread stories about immigration that were either misleading or turned out to be false, his White House aides have. Last year, the White House joined a pile-on by the conservative news media after it called attention to the account of a high school student in Montgomery County, Md., who said she was raped at school by two classmates, one of whom is an undocumented immigrant. The case became a national rallying cry on the right against permissive border policies and so-called sanctuary cities that treat undocumented immigrants more leniently. Fox News broadcast live outside the high school for days.

Prosecutors later dropped the charges after they said the evidence did not substantiate the girl’s claims.

The story of the caravan has been similarly exaggerated. And the emotional outpouring from the right has been raw — that was the case on Fox this week when the TV host Tucker Carlson shouted “You hate America!” at an immigrants rights activist after he defended the people marching through Mexico.

The facts of the caravan are not as straightforward as Mr. Trump or many conservative pundits have portrayed them. The story initially gained widespread attention after BuzzFeed News reported last week that more than 1,000 Central American migrants, mostly from Honduras, were making their way north toward the United States border. Yet the BuzzFeed article and other coverage pointed out that many in the group were planning to stay in Mexico.

That did not stop Mr. Trump from expressing dismay on Tuesday with a situation “where you have thousands of people that decide to just walk into our country, and we don’t have any laws that can protect it.”

The use of disinformation in immigration debates is hardly unique to the United States. Misleading crime statistics, speculation about sinister plots to undermine national sovereignty and Russian propaganda have all played a role in stirring up anti-immigrant sentiment in places like Britain, Germany and Hungary. Some of the more fantastical theories have involved a socialist conspiracy to import left-leaning voters and a scheme by the Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros to create a borderless Europe.

Anyone watching Fox News this week would have heard about similar forces at work inside “the caravan.”

“This was an organized plan and deliberate attack on the sovereignty of the United States by a special interest group,” said David Ward, whom the network identified as a former agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They rallied a bunch of foreign nationals to come north into the United States to test our resolve.”

Continue reading the main story

Critic’s Notebook: On Netflix, a Growing Wave of Shows for and About Teenagers


“Alexa & Katie” doesn’t mess around — it opens in a children’s hospital, from which Alexa is desperate to be discharged so she can start her freshman year.

Ms. Wordham and the showrunner, Matthew Carlson (“Malcolm in the Middle”), use this premise to give a twist to familiar story lines about wanting to fit in. Alexa wants to be normal, and she lashes out when she feels that she’s being pitied or given special treatment, leading to awkward situations with her overly protective mom (Tiffani Thiessen) and the math nerd she has a crush on (Jack Griffo). Her cancer — whose only visible consequence is hair loss, leading to a season-long focus on baldness and wigs — is like a mean parent, keeping her off the basketball team and forcing her to miss the school dance.

As a comedy, “Alexa & Katie” is about average, or a little below, if graded against the cable shows it resembles. But it’s a little more tough-minded than you might expect. The cancer theme leads to sentimentality, of course, but it’s also used to roughen Alexa’s edges: While she complains about being singled out, she also doesn’t mind taking advantage of her invalid status when it suits her.

With “On My Block,” the audience age range moves up a few years, and the TV comparisons shift to Freeform and MTV. The 10-episode series was created by Lauren Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft. Ms. Iungerich created “Awkward,” one of the best teenage comedies of recent years, for MTV.

Photo

Gabriel Bateman, left, and Chris Diamantopoulos in “The Dangerous Book for Boys.”

Credit
Giovanni Rufino/Amazon Prime Video

Ms. Iungerich grew up in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and “Awkward” was set in that largely white and Asian-American environment. With “On My Block,” she’s stayed in Southern California but shifted the demographics, setting the show in a fictional section of Los Angeles called Freeridge, whose residents are predominantly Latino and African-American.

The show has drawn praise for promoting diversity, but its most distinctive feature is Ms. Iungerich’s sensibility, the same one she brought to “Awkward”: a kind of deadpan burlesque in which the jokes hit on the downbeat, and the young characters, no matter how bright, seem to exist in a constant state of irritable confusion.

“On My Block” is a coming-of-age story built around a love quadrangle — two girls (Sierra Capri and Ronni Hawk) and two boys (Diego Tinoco and Jason Genao) trying to sort out their mutual attractions and jealousies. A fifth friend played by Brett Gray, whose slightly abrasive style calls to mind Kevin Hart or (very distantly) a young Eddie Murphy, provides the pure comic relief in a subplot about an urban buried-treasure legend.

“On My Block” has the off-center charm and quirky comic rhythms Ms. Iungerich is known for, but it has a problem that’s tied to its setting. The stumbling block Ms. Iungerich has chosen for her young characters is the gang life: One of the boys is expected to join his older brother’s gang, which threatens to break up “the fam” (the group of friends) as well as the central romance.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that as a dramatic device (besides overuse), but it’s uncomfortably out of proportion in a half-hour teenage comedy. The shifts from football game high jinks or a character’s apple-bong-toking abuelita to the question of whether to shoot another teenager in the head are disconcerting, to say the least.

If neither cancer diagnoses nor street gangs are your idea of a children’s-comedy premise, you might shift your gaze from Netflix to Amazon, where “The Dangerous Book for Boys” has its premiere on Friday. In this fictionalization of the fanciful boy’s-life handbooks written by Conn and Hal Iggulden, the central conflict involves a family whose three young boys are recovering from the death of their gadget-inventing father. Warmhearted and perhaps imaginary adventures ensue, facilitated by the father’s identical twin (played by the always engaging Chris Diamantopoulos). If you like your nostalgia straight up, without “Stranger Things”-style monsters, it might be for you.

Correction: March 29, 2018

An earlier version of this review omitted the names of two creators of “On My Block.” The series was created by Lauren Iungerich, Eddie Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft, not just Ms. Iungerich.

Continue reading the main story