What was up with Donald Trump’s sniffling? Late-night hosts give their take on the presidential debate

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential debate at Hofstra University.
(David Goldman / Associated Press)

In case all the talking heads on cable news and the chattering hordes on Twitter weren’t enough for you, three late-night shows broadcast live on Monday night to provide almost instant reaction to the much-anticipated presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There were jokes galore about Trump’s sniffle, Clinton’s clunky one-liners and Lester Holt’s hands-off moderation.

Here’s a look at how “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” “Late Night With Seth Meyers” and “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” covered the showdown.

“The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”


In his monologue, which aired barely an hour after the conclusion of the debate, Stephen Colbert joked about the vast gulf in expectations between the two candidates.

“For Hillary to win, she had to be confident but not smug, knowledgeable without being a know-it-all, charming but not affected, commanding but not shrill — also, likable, warm, authoritative and not coughing,” he said. “Meanwhile, Donald Trump had to not commit murder … on camera.”

But Trump managed not to clear that low bar, according to Colbert, who thought the Republican seemed ill-prepared in contrast to Clinton, “who was so prepared, my new nickname for her is Preparation H.”

Like many viewers, Colbert was also distracted by Trump’s persistent sniffle, which he said made the candidate seem “like the coked-up best man in the bathroom at a wedding.”

And though Clinton might have told the night’s first lie when she told Trump “it’s good to be with you,” Trump was responsible for what Colbert deemed the night’s biggest whopper: “My strongest asset may be by far is my temperament.”

“Late Night With Seth Meyers”

Like Colbert, Meyers made light of the contrast in expectations going into Monday’s debate in his signature segment, “A Closer Look.” Clinton had a set of tasks reminiscent of “advice you give a secretary before a job interview in 1950 — ‘smile and let them know you’re a dynamite gal!’” Meyers joked. For Trump, the advice sounded like something “you give a murderer at a parole hearing. ‘They need to believe you won’t kill again.’”

Meyers said the former reality star was so unprepared that “at one point it looked like maybe he forgot Hillary’s name.” In contrast, the host thought Clinton was maybe a little overprepared with “patented lukewarm zingers” like her line about “Trumped-up-trickle-down.”

“Nothing like watching Hillary land a joke Sully-style,” Meyers joked. “You just expect an explosion of goose feathers.”

Meyers also called out Trump on one of the night’s more surreal moments — when the Republican cited private conversations with Sean Hannity circa 2003 as evidence of his opposition to the Iraq war and repeatedly urged reporters to call the Fox News pundit to verify the claim. “Sounds like a commercial for an Irish plumber — ‘Call Sean Hannity when your pipes are full of crap.’”

“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”

Trevor Noah likened the debate — which ended less than a half hour before he went on the air — to “Monday Night Raw” and a “real-life version of Twitter.”

The comedian took issue with Trump’s boast about not paying taxes (“that makes me smart”), saying that “taxes are a responsibility, not something to evade.”

“You know who else found a way around the rules? O.J.” he added.

Noah was also curious about the constant sniffling. “Someone needs to look into that,” he said.

But the host, who comes from South Africa, took particular exception to Trump’s claim that American airports look like something out of the third world.

“Don’t you bring third-world airports into this,” he joked.

Twitter: @MeredithBlake


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