Lines stretched for blocks in Midtown Manhattan near Trump Tower last weekend, but not for a protest. Instead, tourists and locals converged just down the road to see The Daily Show’s homage to the self-proclaimed “Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” the man known as @RealDonaldTrump.
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 16, 2017
The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library was a pop-up showcase with free admission.
“Say what you want about Donald Trump,” Noah told reporters as the exhibit opened. “He may not be good at presidenting, or leading, or geo-politics. But he is a damn fine tweet-er.”
The Daily Show wanted to pay credence to Trump’s prolific tweets, showcasing them the way they deserve to be seen—not briefly, but canonized in a regal museum. The show alluded to this plan in March, after airing Third Month Mania—a special episode where The Daily Show correspondents mined through thousands of user-submitted Trump tweets to find the greatest of them all.
Noah somberly explained the show’s objective in setting up such a comprehensive tour of internet mayhem.
“It’s about giving context to the tweets,” said Noah, “Not absorbing them one byte at a time but rather looking at them as a body of work, some of the greatest ideas, some of the greatest words that have ever been shared in 140 characters or less.”
Visitors entered the museum and were promptly greeted by a model pair of tiny, orange hands clutching a smartphone.
Visitors could receive a nickname courtesy of the Trump nickname generator (I’m known as Dweebo Lisa) and were free to explore the many facets of this interactive museum. A #MAGAnetic wall contained a handful of Trump’s most frequently used words, where visitors could create their own caustic tweets.
Then there was the presidential throne—a golden toilet in a section decorated as the Oval Office, where visitors could tweet out into the world.
And every few minutes, an alarm would sound—“Bing, bing…bing bing,” announcing Trump’s latest digital missive (His real-time tweets were displayed via live feed on one of the museum’s screens.)
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 16, 2017
On the walls, tweets were cataloged and arranged by category, including “Deleted but not Forgotten” and “Verified Survivors,” which honored the brave victims of Trump’s most vicious tweet-storms.
Kevin Hagan, a 29-year-old man from Amityville, New York said he decided to check out the exhibit after reading about it (fittingly) on Twitter. He brought his 15-year-old brother along, and while they found the pop-up’s interactive aspects amusing—both took turns tweeting from the golden toilet—Hagan thought the most cogent part was a slideshow called “Trump v Trump,” which showcased the president’s most discordant target—himself.
“The electoral college is a disaster for democracy,” Trump tweeted on November 6, 2012. Almost four years later, after winning the election, he had a different opinion: “The electoral college is actually genius in that it brings all states, including smaller ones, into play.”
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 20, 2017
“It’s hard to look back that far in time and remember what people say [on social media],” said Hagan. “Trump says things now that completely contradict what he said before he ran for office. We wouldn’t really know this if it wasn’t in front of us. I’ve seen these quotes side by side in memes, but this display is more powerful, because it physically exists.”
And some of Trump’s greatest quips were lionized and analyzed as “Master Works of the Collection” with a wall of their own (and even fancier gold frames) to allow the public to fully absorb the Trump’s mastery of the 140-character post.
Let’s examine his infamous Cinco de Mayo taco bowl tweet.
The analysis of this “mixed media” work of art, provided by The Daily Show writers, is as follows:
“A decidedly American Artist, Trump rarely draws from other creative traditions. Yet here we see him showcasing pride in a Mesoamerican heritage that, for the artist’s instant and effortless mastery of the form, may as well be his own. At the same time, the taco bowl’s oblique symbolism embodies Trump’s trademark patriotism: His is a crisp, crunchy nation, deep-friend and welcoming to all fixin’s that yearn to dwell therein, providing they rise to his own Towering standards. Guac is extra.”
As The Daily Show correspondents Hasan Minhaj and Jordan Klepper assessed in an appearance at the library, Trump certainly sweated over both the tweet and the taco.
Watch the video:
— Maeve McDermott (@maeve_mcdermott) June 15, 2017
Nicholas Lord, a 23-year-old from Perth, Australia, agreed with The Daily Show’s decision to accentuate this tweet out of 35,000 (and counting). “Moving to the States during the Obama administration, I believed in everything this country stood for,” said Lord (who is a friend and attended the exhibit with me). “At the time, people I met here would ask me why I left Australia,'” said Lord. “As if it was a terrible decision.
“Now, in 2017, as a gay man and foreign citizen living here with that man in office, I sometimes question my decision to move here, as well. But seeing political art like this reaffirms what I love about this country. The U.S. is open-minded and doesn’t accept bigotry. Knowing such a massive corporation is behind this [instillation] makes me feel safe. The media isn’t going to let Trump get away with his hateful rhetoric, and this exhibition is actual proof of that.”
Sunday, June 19 was the last day of the exhibit—as well as Father’s Day. The museum took note, making a special plaque for this tweet:
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 18, 2017
“The end result is a fascinating trip through the annals of his convoluted conscience,” wrote Jake Nevins for The Guardian, “A satire that’s equal parts jarring and funny, absurd and ‘Sad!’”
Due to an unexpectedly high turnout, the instillation extended hours on Saturday, June 17 and opened early on June 18. It was a valiant effort on The Daily Show’s part to give everyone the opportunity to witness the spectacle—no sore losers. Even if you couldn’t attend in person, the classiest pop-up in history is immortalized online with a virtual tour. You don’t even have to leave your home…amazing.
— Comedy Central (@ComedyCentral) June 17, 2017
Jordan Klepper is slated for a new late-night talk show this fall, which will air after The Daily Show at 11:30 p.m. Details of the show (including its name) are yet to be released, but it’s likely Klepper will explore topics such as gun control, which he has honed in on in past Daily Show segments and his recent Jordan Klepper Solves Guns special.
Australian comic Jim Jeffries hosts The Jim Jeffries Show, which premiered earlier this month. So far, critics have responded well to Jeffries’ international take on U.S. politics and trademark candor.
And for those of us who can’t pull ourselves away from gawking at all that is amazing about Trump’s presidency, there’s The President Show—Comedy Central’s critically-acclaimed late-night show starring Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik.
Fake news has never been more real.
Watch The Daily Show on Comedy Central, weeknights at 11 p.m., and take the virtual Trump Presidential Twitter Library Tour.