News & Politics

A Daily Show Truck Is Driving Around DC, Playing Video of Trump Insulting Senators

Photograph by Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

Remember when President Trump said that mean thing about that senator? No? Well, the Daily Show does. As the Senate draws closer to a vote on whether or not to remove the President from office, the nightly talk show is taking to the DC streets with a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign to remind senators exactly how the president insulted them in the past — and to urge them, please, not to take it personally. 

Since Monday, the Daily Show has employed a big black truck with a television screen on the side to drive around downtown DC. With audio blasting from its loudspeakers, the truck plays a looped video of Trump insulting various senators. In one version of the ad, Daily Show host Trevor Noah addresses the lawmakers: “As a juror, the most important thing is to remain impartial. The following remarks by the defendant should not be considered when rendering your verdict,” he says with a barely-concealed grin.

“It’s just funny and ironic to see that [Trump’s] fate now rests in these senators’ hands, after he spent all this time insulting them and calling them names,” Ramin Hedayati, a supervising producer at the Daily Show, says by phone from New York City. The campaign is the brainchild of Hedayati’s team and the Comedy Central marketing team, headed up senior Vice President of Brand Marketing Shawn Silverman

Inspiration struck Hedayati’s team during the first few days of the trial. “Once the [impeachment] trial started, we just got all the clips of Trump dunking on all his prospective jurors,” Hedayati says. “We realized — ‘Okay, there’s a lot here.’” This isn’t the first time that the NYC-based show has intervened on the ground in the nation’s capitol — last June, Hedayati and his team organized the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library, a temporary exhibit dedicated to the President’s favorite hobby. 

The Daily Show has also been running versions of the clip on 30- and 60-second slots on ABC, NBC, MSNBC, Fox News, CBS and CNN in the DC area, and in elevators of 27 DC buildings, including government buildings. That all-fronts marketing push started in a brainstorming session with Silverman’s marketing department. “The elevator TVs came up, the mobile billboards in the DC area came up. We just kinda made a decision, let’s do it all,” Silverman says. 

“We’re trying to always think of ways to take jokes that we have and take them outside the boundaries of 11:00 to 11:30. Like, how can we exist in the real world? How can we get closer to the people that we’re covering?” Hedayati says. “Literally driving a truck outside of the building they’re in is a way to do that.” 

Trump’s penchant for insults is well-documented. An investigation by the New York Times published in November 2019 found that, since his inauguration in 2017, Trump “attack[ed] someone or something in more than half of his tweets.”

In the Daily Show video, Trump airs his grievances with a number of high-profile senators. For instance:

On Ted Cruz, in Vienna, Ohio, in March 2016: “I call him Lyin’ Ted Cruz. He’s lyin’ Ted.” 

On Chuck Schumer, at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, in December 2019: “You know Chuck Schumer. Cryin’ Chuck. … He used to kiss my ass, Chuck Schumer. He’d do anything.” 

On Mitt Romney, at a campaign town hall in Janesville, Wisconsin, in March 2016: “That stiff, Mitt Romney, a total stiff running. Who by the way, he’s a dope. He’s not a smart person.” 

In other clips, Trump takes aim at “Crazy Bernie,” “Little Marco,” and “Crazy Elizabeth Warren, or as I affectionately call her, Pocahantas.” Lindsay Graham, Cory Booker, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio also make the final cut. 

So far on the ground in DC, Silverman says it’s been “a big hit.” “We’ve had lots of people flagging it down to take photos or videos of it,” he says. 

Both Silverman and Hedayati hope that their efforts get the attention of the jurors. Do they think it’ll change any hearts or minds? 

“I doubt — well, I can’t speak to the impact that it’ll have,” Hedayati says with a laugh. “Honestly, it’s just fun for us.”

Nora McGreevy
Editorial Fellow

Nora McGreevy joined Washingtonian as an editorial fellow in January. Originally from South Bend, she has worked for The Boston Globe and the South Bend Tribune. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame.