On Wednesday’s “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah took aim at the way Democratic Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Candidate John Fetterman’s recovery from a stroke has been depicted by both major media outlets and Republicans. And in addition to showing why that reaction is ridiculous, he also accurately described the inherent bigotry implied by it, which he called “trash.”
So, for some background, Fetterman was interviewed by NBC News reporter Dasha Burns this week, his first TV interview since having a stroke in May. While Fetterman’s answers were perfectly coherent in the interview, like many stroke victims, he has lingering issues with speech recognition. However, his cognition is unimpaired, he can speak fine and also can read, so he uses captions to ensure he understands what he’s hearing.
Even so, Burns’ presentation of the interview has been widely criticized for being confrontational and even implying Fetterman’s campaign has been dishonest about his health. For one, she depicted a moment when Fetterman messed up a word (“emphatic” instead of “empathetic”) and then caught the mistake and corrected himself, as if he had made a dangerous slip up. She also claimed while introducing the interview to Lester Holt that he demonstrated cognitive impairment before the interview while making “small talk.”
On Wednesday, Burns walked back her insinuations and admitted that stroke experts are clear that Fetterman’s situation is not evidence of cognitive impairment — something she didn’t do during the original broadcast.
After recapping Fetterman’s situation and showing the clip of the “emphatic/empathetic” moment, Noah said, “If stumbling over a word every now and again disqualified you from politics, America wouldn’t have had a president for the past 6 years.”
“In fact,” Noah continued, “at least Fetterman acknowledged that he messed up the word, and he corrected himself. Biden wouldn’t have noticed, and he’d have just [mumble mumble] negroes, man.”
“And can you imagine Trump,” Noah added. “Trump would have tried to convince us that he actually got the word right. He’d be like, ‘I always knew that I was emphatic, and I was, and also empathetic. I was emphatically empathetic and so emphatic.”
“Also, as for reading captions because he has a troubled understanding of speech now, I don’t know, is that really a deal breaker? Huh? If you ask me, America needs more people in politics who actually know how to read,” Noah joked as a photo of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Herschel Walker appeared onscreen.
“If anything, needing captions is super relatable these days. Have you tried watching ‘House of the Dragon’ without captions? It’s impossible. I mean, half the characters have the same name,” He continued.
Noah then got serious for a second. “I’m not vouching for Fetterman over Dr. Oz or anything like that,” he said. “But I do think this whole debate is veering into the territory of saying people with disabilities cannot be lawmakers. Which is trash, alright? Especially since America already has disabled lawmakers serving right now.”
Noah then mentioned two of them: Dan Crenshaw and Tammy Duckworth. He also joked about Mitch McConnell being disabled because he’s constantly “melting.”
Watch the whole clip in the video above.