The question of what to do about Donald Trump is being mulled over by network executives and talent as much as activists these days, but there hasn’t been a clear answer among the former. Despite banishing the 45th president following his racist comments about Mexicans, NBC opened a fire exit door to allow him back into the building for The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. But the sketch show has steered clear of the network’s lapse in judgment, doubling down on its criticism of the Commander in chief with a round of impressions that includes his cabinet members, and is now seeing its highest ratings in over 20 years.
Lots of late night viewers are eating up all the pillorying, apparently—Stephen Colbert has been edging out his Late Show competition lately, thanks in no small part to the return of his sharper edge. For the second week in a row, Colbert’s beaten both of the Jimmys (sorry, Kimmel Live!). Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show has never been a source of smart commentary or an above-average Trump impression, which is presumably why viewers are turning to Colbert in the era of President Twitter. But overall, Fallon’s recipe of nostalgic bits and celebrity frolicking still takes the cake—he’s got his competition beat in the season to date.
For its part, CBS appears to be backing Colbert’s incisive segments and focus on the news cycle; the network’s been referring to The Late Show as “the smart choice” in new promos.