In his first television appearance since a highly-public breakup with pop star Ariana Grande, Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson performed on the show’s “Weekend Update” with a series of cracks about various politicians running in the midterms. The jokes, exclusively centered around the politicians’ appearances, might have gone overlooked had Davison not chosen to include former Navy Seal Dan Crenshaw, who was running for Congress in Texas. The Republican sports a patch over one eye owing to wounds he suffered while serving in Afghanistan.
“You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate in Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie,” Davidson said, with Crenshaw’s picture on the screen. “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever. Whatever.”
SNL’s audience may have approved of the shock humor, but many were offended that the comedian would sink to such lows just to score a cheap laugh. The National Republican Congressional Committee put out a statement of outrage, demanding that Davidson and the network issue an apology for the tasteless crack.
“Getting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving our country,” said NRCC spokesman Jack Pandol. “Pete Davidson and NBC should immediately apologize to Dan, and to the millions of veterans and military families who tune in every weekend – because they’re not laughing.”
On Crenshaw’s campaign website, the candidate gives voters a brief description of how he came to be injured in the war.
“On Dan’s third deployment in 2012, his life changed forever,” the website reads. “After six months of combat operations, Dan was hit by an IED blast during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was evacuated and awoke from his medically induced coma learning that his right eye had been destroyed in the blast and his left eye was still present, but badly damaged.”
Crenshaw, however, said that while he didn’t think there was anything amusing about the Davidson bit, he also wasn’t going to play into the usual outrage that follows every time a celebrity steps in it.
“They probably should apologize, but I’m not going to demand an apology,” he told Fox & Friends. “That is hollow and empty.”
More so than taking personal offense from the joke, Crenshaw lamented that comedy had to be so focused on partisan politics.
“What passes for humor these days is not what used to pass for humor and that’s the big tragedy in all of this,” Crenshaw said. “Why can’t we just be funny again? Why can’t we give the American people a break and separate humor from politics?”