Opinion

JOAN VENNOCHI

Kellyanne’s a liar and ‘SNL’ was sexist

It’s hard to stick up for a sister who rejects feminism, lets her boss call her “baby,” and lies like one of the guys — indeed, even more enthusiastically.

But last week’s “Saturday Night Live’’ skit featuring Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway as a sexually predatory, attention-craving woman was creepy and sexist.

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Kate McKinnon, as Conway, stalked CNN’s Jake Tapper, played by Beck Bennett, to his apartment; rubbed up against him in a negligee; attacked him with a knife because he wouldn’t book her for his show; and ultimately fell out of a window, to what, at first, looked like her death. Ultimately, McKinnon got up and walked away with only “three lives left.”

During the “Fatal Attraction” parody, Tapper also tells Conway: “It’s over, Kellyanne. You’re sick. You’re toxic. You’re done.”

Conway has to hope art doesn’t imitate life, since in the actual working world, a woman described as nuts can be quickly out of a job. President Trump has no sense of humor when it comes to SNL, which, to be fair, has been hilariously brutal on men, including the president, his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, and press secretary Sean Spicer.

After Melissa McCarthy first played Spicer, his job was said to be on the line because Trump views the casting of a woman in that role as a sign of weakness. However, sporting a better-fitting suit and some sympathetic media profiles, Spicer survives for now. Trump was also said to dislike the “Grim Reaper” portrayal of Bannon, which cast him as an evil force in control of Trump.

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Conway’s problem has spilled beyond comedy and SNL. While she is surely not the only liar to show up in a green room, male television hosts are now aggressively taking her on. Tapper got a lot of attention for a now classic interview, during which he challenged Conway on a number of lies and misstatements, including her reference to the “Bowling Green massacre” — an incident that did not occur. Matt Lauer made headlines for telling her during a “Today Show’’ interview, “Kellyanne, that makes no sense.” And on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough called her both a liar and an “out of the loop” freelancer who speaks without knowing what’s really going on in the White House. One can imagine what rival White House faction that knife-in-the-back came from.

From her babble about “alternative facts” to her unethical pitch on behalf of Ivanka Trump’s product line, Conway’s fall from media grace is deserved. I hold her less accountable for saying Michael Flynn, the now deposed national security advisor, had Trump’s full confidence. An hour later, Spicer said Trump was evaluating the situation. Given the volatility of White House decision-making, the ground could have shifted just that swiftly under Flynn’s feet. As for whether Flynn resigned or was fired, it wouldn’t be the first time people disagreed over the correct terminology for the hasty exit of a disgraced employee.

Conway apparently crossed that mysterious line between acceptable spin and outright falsehoods, to the point that some are saying she should be banned from media appearances. If only all TV guests were held to that standard. It would nice to hear the words “that makes no sense” spoken in response to the prattle of countless guests on the left and right. More grilling and less hot air would greatly benefit the public — even better if the guests being grilled were hooked up to lie detectors. Then all the serial liars could be cut from the panels of talking heads.

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As for SNL, I’m not advocating censorship, and I understand everyone responds differently to humor. But the Conway sketch gives feminists a reason to sympathize with a woman who does not identify as one.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.
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