Live From New York, It’s Trump on Twitter! The Effect of Engaging With Saturday Night Live on Perceptions of Authenticity and the Salience of Trait Ratings
The research explores what happens when Donald Trump responds critically to Saturday Night Live (SNL) via Twitter. Analyzing data from a December 2016 controlled experiment (N = 325), the results suggest that being exposed to Trump’s social media engagement with SNL enhances perceptions of Trump’s celebrity authenticity and encourages viewers to see Trump as more experienced and well informed. The effect of exposure to Trump’s social media response on perceptions is significant even after controlling for prior disposition toward Trump. In effect, the research suggests that viewing Trump’s social media response encourages viewers to discount the critical satire in the original SNL content, offering viewers an alternative narrative or counterargument. The implications of this disruptive engagement with political comedy are discussed.