Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Seth Meyers gets stuck in a time loop examining Trump's never-ending cycle of tax fraud

Seth Meyers
Seth Meyers
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Monday’s Late Night With Seth Meyers saw the host caught seemingly in media res, wrapping up his signature “A Closer Look” segment before it had even begun. “. . . one of the greatest tax cheats in American history, a criminally negligent sociopath who lost the popular vote and has overseen the preventable deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans is on the verge of putting a third justice on the Supreme Court,” is how the return from ad break caught Meyer summing up yet another rapid-fire rundown of just how fundamentally busted American democracy is—before Meyers corrected himself, explaining that he’s only just getting started. Yeah, it’s been that sort of year four years undifferentiated wasteland of nightmare time.

Explaining that the unending grind of trying to make wry fun of a guy he called “one of the most irritating, off-putting, unlikable individuals in American history” might make anyone lose the conceptual script, Meyers yet soldiered on to tackle Sunday’s New York Times investigative report on just how much of an asshole Donald Trump is. (Financial criminal and cartoonish avatar of American capitalism variety.) Noting that even being the parent of two toddlers isn’t as exhausting as following Donald Trump around (for one thing, “Even on their worst days, kids don’t shit themselves this much”), the host dug deep into the Jurassic Park-sized heap of serial tax avoidance, unconstitutional double-dealing, $70 thousand haircut deductions, and other deeply shady shit the Times unearthed. (With more to come, according to the paper.) Others have done similar excavating since the story dropped yesterday (and get the popcorn popped for John Oliver on this Sunday’s Last Week Tonight), but Meyers wasn’t playing, ripping into Trump not just as a “New York real estate grifter,” but as emblematic of an American tax system that allows such brazen serial money-grubbing to take place—if you’re rich and powerful enough.

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Meyers pointed to companies like Amazon, Chevron, and Starbucks, who paid not one red cent in taxes last year, while citing a ProPublica investigative report that showed the five counties most likely to see taxpayers audited by the IRS are all rural, poor, and largely Black. That in itself is enough is enough for most people to consider a tax strike without Donald Trump—for our sins, the president of the United States—flaunting his ability to pay, according to the Times, $1,500 in taxes, total, in the last two decades or so. And while it would be fun—and Meyers did appear to be having fun—mocking the fragile balloon ego of supposed billionaire Donald Trump and the humiliating revelation of his towering business losses, labyrinthine tax cheat schemes, and deeply suspicious sources of overseas funding for his gaudy lifestyle, Meyers also set his focus wider.

While some may quibble with Meyers intimation that it was actually any great sacrifice for conservatives, evangelicals, and Republicans to “put up with [Trump’s] racism, and his corruption, his incompetence, and his abuse of power,” in order to steal three Supreme Court seats and install an even more egregiously plutocrat-favoring tax code, Meyers still went all-in. “Over 200 thousand Americans are dead from an out-of-control pandemic, and the president has just been exposed as one of the greatest tax cheats in American history,” Meyers concluded (for real this time) before playing that Sunday clip of a hot Fox News mic picking up someone at that right-wing, Trump-fluffing propaganda outlet letting out an exhausted, “Oh shit,” at the prospect of having to listen to Donald Trump whine nonsense into a White House microphone. As Meyers put it, even Fox News is sick of listening to him justify this abomination of a presidency—even if they’re still invested in getting what they want from it.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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