‘SNL’ Faces Backlash After Nikki Haley Makes Surprise Appearance During Cold Open

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Saturday Night Live instantly started receiving backlash after Nikki Haley made a surprise appearance during the Feb. 3 show.

During a town hall sketch for the cold open, the Republican presidential candidate made a cameo to ask James Austin Johnson’s Donald Trump some questions of her own.

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Haley started out by asking, “Why won’t you debate Nikki Haley?” in reference to the former president refusing to participate in presidential debates ahead of the 2024 election.

Johnson’s Trump responded, “Oh my God. It’s her, the woman who was in charge of security on Jan. 6. It’s Nancy Pelosi.”

“Are you doing OK, Donald? Haley proceeded to ask. “You might need a mental competency test.”

“You know what, I did,” Johnson’s Trump said. “I took the test and I aced it, OK. Perfect score. They said I’m 100 percent mental and, you know, I’m confident because I’m a man. That’s why a woman should never run our economy. Women are terrible with money.”

Ayo Edebiri later popped up at the end of the sketch and directed a question at Haley: “I was just curious, what would you say was the main cause of the Civil War? And do you think it starts with an S and ends with a lavery?”

The former South Carolina governor said in response, “Yep, I probably should have said that the first time.”

Edebiri’s question was in reference to a December 2023 town hall in New Hampshire, where a voter asked Haley what caused the war. She responded at the time, “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run, the freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.”

People quickly began to criticize Haley on social media for not mentioning slavery in her response. She ended up walking back her comments during a radio interview on Good Morning New Hampshire, saying, “Of course, the Civil War was about slavery.”

She continued, “What it means to us today is about freedom — that’s what that was all about. It was about individual freedom,” she said. “It was about economic freedom. It was about individual rights.”

Following Haley’s appearance on SNL, some people took to social media to criticize the NBC sketch comedy show for giving her screen time but not other candidates.

NBC declined to comment, but sources told The Hollywood Reporter that NBC will comply with any equal time obligations for other presidential candidates across both parties.

Edebiri made her hosting debut on Saturday Night Live with musical guest Jennifer Lopez.

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