News

10 Ways Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Will Handle The Next Four Years

Executive Producer Jo Miller Talks About Sticking Up For Journalists And Calling Out Propaganda

by | February 8, 2017 | Comments

The producers of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee were devastated when Donald Trump won the election. It’s no secret that the producers of the comedy news show were Hillary Clinton supporters, but this year they’ve gone back to work satirizing the first steps of the new administration and prepping for the next four years.

Jo Miller was a writer for The Daily Show from 2009 to 2015 and now writes and produces Full Frontal. It didn’t take long for Full Frontal to join the ranks of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver as one of the go-to sources for a laugh about otherwise depressing news. Many of their segments go viral with YouTube clips after they air.

Miller spoke to Rotten Tomatoes after a Full Frontal panel for the Television Critics Association. Still sporting her “Nasty Woman” T-shirt, Miller had a lot of opinions about the new President and how best her show could help resist what she considers damaging policies. Here are 10 ways Miller feels Full Frontal and the media at large can fight for democracy.


1. STOP MAKING PLANS

Since Full Frontal is weekly instead of daily, they thought they’d have more time to plan each show. They’ve learned to be ready to drop everything on Tuesday night if big news happens before their next show.

“We found that when we formulate a plan, reality intervenes,” Miller said. “We plan a show every week and something happens the night before.”


2. MORE EXPERTS LIKE MASHA GESSEN

Bee interviewed Gessen, a Russian journalist who moved to the U.S. in 1981, then back to Moscow in 1991. Gessen warned Bee that Trump could ban newspapers from the White House and implore American citizens to turn in immigrants. She said most resistance to authoritarians is unsuccessful, but encouraged Bee to keep panicking and define the lines she would not cross.

“If this does turn out to be a successfully authoritarian government, if the Republican House doesn’t get really tired of these shenanigans and take him out in a few months, then we need help from other people who have lived under repressive regimes to know what our role is and how to function,” Miller said. “Masha gave us a preview of what the process for debasing language was like. We saw it with terms like ‘fake news.’”


3. STOP CALLING COMEDY FAKE NEWS

Jon Stewart used to self-deprecatingly call The Daily Show “fake news,” but the 2016 election uncovered actual outlets creating stories to misinform the public, like the Pizzagate child sex ring. So Miller redefined shows like The Daily Show and Full Frontal as commentary rather than fake news.

“We’re just commentary with jokes,” Miller said. “We rely on journalists. Very occasionally we will go and investigate news ourselves if nobody else has. We are piggybacking on the work of journalists, so we’re not news. I think ‘fake news’ for The Daily Show was a holdover from the 1990s when Lizz [Winstead] created the show. It was a parody of news. It hadn’t been fake news under Jon’s hand for a decade anyway. It’s commentary.”


4. PAY FOR JOURNALISTS’ LEGAL FEES

When Meryl Streep spoke about protecting the press in her Golden Globes speech, Miller had a reality check. “How the hell is she supposed to do that?,” Miller asked. “I mean, she could pay for defense lawyers. What does it mean for a movie star to protect the press?”

During the campaign, Trump spoke about suing journalists for libel. Even a frivolous lawsuit would cost a lot to defend, and the billionaire President has more money than any working reporter. So it will fall on wealthy benefactors to step in and defend the press.

“Have deep pockets,” Miller said. “I think [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos is going to defend the press because he can pay their defense lawyers.”


5. REPORTERS NEED TO STICK TOGETHER

Reporters may work for competing news outlets, but they should agree on the principles of a free press. So when a reporter like CNN’s Jim Acosta is singled out by Trump, who refused to answer his question, Miller thinks journalists should stick together. Fox News anchor Shep Smith defended CNN against Trump’s claims that they are “fake news.” Miller had further suggestions.

“In the White House press pool, if someone is treated like Trump treated Acosta, I think the questions should stop,” Miller said. “There should be some solidarity. Until he answers Acosta’s questions, we’re not going to ask you any more questions. Which is really hard because you’re in competition with each other.”

On the other hand, if reporters stopped asking questions, Trump might be happy to end the press conference without answering any. Miller thinks reporters could call his bluff. “How long can he do that for?” Miller said. “How long can we get all of our news from his stupid tweets? That doesn’t make him look good. It makes him look weak.”


6. BRING BACK “PEOPLE ARE SAYING”

“People Are Saying” is a recurring Full Frontal segment where Bee puts forth theories based on anecdotal evidence. Miller said the show can always use “People Are Saying” to discuss rumors, and satirize the reporting of rumors in itself.

“We had so much fun with that with ‘Trump Can’t Read,’” Miller said. “So when we’re covering rumors or commenting on the fact that rumors are news, we will bring back ‘People Are Saying’ quite a bit.”


7. BRING BACK PAPERWEIGHTS

In their first season, Full Frontal began a segment called “Elected Paperweight of the Month.” One such “Paperweight” was Kentucky governor Matt Bevin, who chastised the legislature for missing sessions but neglected to note official session hours. Miller is considering expanding the Paperweight segment.

“One of my writers texted me and asked if a city could be a Paperweight after Biloxi decided it was ‘Great Americans Day,’” Miller said.


8. KEEP CALLING OUT WHITE PLIGHT AND OTHER ISSUES

As long as there are white men in the majority claiming oppression for mild offenses, Full Frontal will mock them. The debut “White Plight” segment featured singer Bo Bice’s complaint about being called a “white boy” in a Popeye’s Chicken. Miller likes the idea of recurring segments for persistent issues.

“I have a feeling that white people are going to be fragile again,” Miller said. “I think we are going to approach themes like the exclusion of women from the public sphere. We’re going to wind up with some themed recurring bits to explore the attacks on the press, for instance.”


9. REJECT THE BUBBLE

A common narrative during the 2016 election season was that liberal elites lived in a bubble and didn’t understand the America that was voting for Trump. Miller is here to say they’re not in a bubble. Rather, they’ve made a very determined decision to avoid people who have terrorized them their entire lives.

“There are a lot of us certainly in New York and L.A. who fled to the bubble because these people hated us,” Miller said. “They were mean to us in high school. They beat us up because we read books or we were gay. We know them already. We grew up with them. We know them rather well, some of us. We’re not all Lena Dunham.”


10. COVER MORE RURAL STORIES

Miller wants to see broader regional coverage in the news media. She concedes that the media tends to focus more on big city stories, but that doesn’t automatically make rural voters “real Americans.”

“Yes, I agree that rural matters aren’t covered,” Miller said. “Did you ever read Methland [by Nick Reding]? It’s a great book about the meth epidemic in America and the fact that it was just dumb luck that it didn’t touch New York. It was a rural thing. So we utterly failed to cover it. It was a secret epidemic that the media didn’t cover because it wasn’t happening in the media’s backyard. That is true. We need to cover them better, but to elevate them and label them as real Americans versus fake Americans, that’s really awful and I won’t have it. I will not have it that anybody who’s not white is an asterisk American.”


Full Frontal with Samantha Bee airs Wednesday nights at 10:30 on TBS

Tag Cloud

2019 Shondaland doctor who comics New York Comic Con Winners Black History Month cats Western Tomatazos Musicals chucky Spike American Society of Cinematographers foreign Anna Paquin Thanksgiving IFC Films space Chernobyl Oscars movie social media south america Lifetime Christmas movies screen actors guild Teen Dark Horse Comics sag awards batman Amazon Studios Arrowverse Turner Britbox kids Writers Guild of America Marathons Disney Channel 2020 golden globes The CW Emmy Nominations Netflix Christmas movies Creative Arts Emmys CW Seed dceu anthology Disney MTV The Arrangement political drama 71st Emmy Awards technology Super Bowl Pop TV RT History TV Land die hard versus Infographic Discovery Channel First Reviews IFC NYCC Video Games critics revenge 20th Century Fox Pixar sports politics comedies spain Turner Classic Movies franchise zero dark thirty HBO Peacock comic Extras First Look A24 Academy Awards dark FOX President SundanceTV Syfy canceled TV shows Funimation cancelled TV series elevated horror Masterpiece Crackle science fiction adventure Cannes Reality Marvel reboot rotten movies we love NBC Fall TV Rock crime Star Trek theme song Rocky Pirates disaster VH1 Interview Adult Swim Mary Tyler Moore scary movies Travel Channel Musical San Diego Comic-Con cooking Awards Tour crime drama mockumentary History facebook Trailer universal monsters Captain marvel DC streaming service DC Comics Martial Arts 2015 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Watching Series spy thriller YouTube Red VICE vampires Action WGN robots Shudder historical drama CBS All Access festivals SDCC Sundance Now TCM Binge Guide MSNBC television Photos National Geographic green book psychological thriller period drama harry potter cancelled television Tubi ITV zombies Freeform The Walking Dead children's TV Epix justice league comiccon finale Film Festival FXX GIFs documentary Best and Worst cartoon Sneak Peek Apple TV Plus biography TNT a nightmare on elm street DirecTV award winner Acorn TV Marvel Television screenings werewolf Opinion Superheroe Song of Ice and Fire Kids & Family based on movie docudrama DGA RT21 Marvel Studios TCA Winter 2020 CMT Pride Month 45 supernatural dc TV renewals 4/20 Ghostbusters Year in Review BET A&E spider-man Comic Book CBS Spectrum Originals animated slashers adaptation game show Bravo Grammys TruTV YouTube Premium Lucasfilm best Christmas CNN crossover cancelled ABC dogs See It Skip It E! Amazon game of thrones singing competition romantic comedy Tarantino medical drama LGBTQ reviews Polls and Games Film Ovation Red Carpet Netflix FX Women's History Month Horror thriller Amazon Prime Columbia Pictures zombie anime transformers Comics on TV Nat Geo Lionsgate natural history Mystery mutant Comedy Central ESPN Universal Logo cinemax psycho Lifetime halloween Mindy Kaling Mary poppins El Rey Animation Election richard e. Grant 2017 Sundance TV canceled Country Valentine's Day Starz Amazon Prime Video quibi movies DC Universe ghosts Disney Plus Comedy GLAAD ABC Family OneApp Quiz TV Nominations Sci-Fi Awards true crime Family BBC America MCU blockbuster Hear Us Out Trivia WarnerMedia GoT child's play Disney streaming service LGBT crime thriller discovery boxoffice Pet Sematary HBO Max joker serial killer Star Wars 2018 The Witch Character Guide Schedule police drama Winter TV cults Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Tumblr romance breaking bad Classic Film APB Stephen King Apple TV+ PaleyFest all-time Showtime spinoff video jamie lee curtis Certified Fresh Fox News war OWN streaming binge Hulu Drama Calendar parents Warner Bros. dragons series Baby Yoda directors Sony Pictures BBC 24 frames YA Spring TV Rom-Com Walt Disney Pictures Cartoon Network YouTube Paramount X-Men hispanic SXSW spanish language christmas movies name the review book Food Network Music strong female leads Superheroes independent talk show 21st Century Fox hist Esquire diversity Television Academy Crunchyroll Mary Poppins Returns sequel dramedy Emmys cars Hallmark Christmas movies TCA tv talk Box Office The Purge Endgame Pop Heroines Black Mirror PBS Hallmark Paramount Network Cosplay travel nature Trophy Talk indie Nickelodeon blaxploitation Vudu miniseries Fantasy Summer Set visit TBS concert cancelled TV shows ratings Mudbound mission: impossible TCA 2017 stand-up comedy Sundance Podcast composers AMC Rocketman 007 USA Network aliens unscripted Elton John E3 witnail 2016 Premiere Dates renewed TV shows Brie Larson toy story Ellie Kemper FX on Hulu TIFF asian-american what to watch Disney+ Disney Plus sitcom teaser stoner Reality Competition casting free movies Toys TLC Holidays Biopics cops Avengers USA Apple Countdown latino criterion Holiday