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Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone February 28, 2023

Woody Harrelson’s ‘SNL’ pandemic monologue not selectively edited by NBC

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  • Woody Harrelson’s Feb. 25 monologue, in which he joked about a fictitious movie script that read like COVID-19 pandemic conspiracies, is available in full on NBC’s website, the "SNL" social media accounts and NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.

Actor Woody Harrelson, making his fifth appearance hosting NBC’s "Saturday Night Live," caused a stir with a monologue that seemed to promote the conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned by drug companies, politicians and the media.

During his Feb. 25 appearance, the star joked about a fictitious movie script he said he read in 2019, describing a plot that sounds an awful lot like falsehoods we’ve debunked many times in the past three years.

One social media user claimed that NBC later edited out part of Harrelson’s controversial monologue.

"Woody Harrelson’s 60 seconds in the middle of his monologue was cut out of the edits released after the show," read the caption on a Feb. 26 Instagram post. "It wasn’t even blatantly Anti-V, it was anti-coercion/pressure/gvt control."

The post was flagged as part of Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

But we found no evidence that Harrelson’s monologue was later selectively edited by NBC.

Harrelson’s monologue is available in full on NBC’s website. "SNL’s" Twitter account tweeted a video of the full monologue the night of the show and it’s also available unaltered on the show’s YouTube page. The full monologue was also available to viewers on NBC’s Peacock streaming service as of Feb. 27. 

Early in his monologue, Harrelson said that after his previous appearance on "SNL" in 2019, he sat down in New York’s Central Park and "started to read the craziest script."

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He then talked a bit about his predilection for marijuana, before returning several minutes later to talking about the script.

"So the movie goes like this. The biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes. And people can only come out if they take the cartel’s drugs, and keep taking them over and over. I threw the script away. I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea — being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day long."

The monologue drew criticism and praise on social media. 

Some were angry that Harrelson was allowed to spread the anti-vaccine conspiracy that pharmaceutical companies colluded with the media and the government to stage the pandemic for financial gain.

"SNL" and Harrelson also drew praise from many skeptical of COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccines, including Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who tweeted, "So based. Nice work @nbcsnl!"

Vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy tweeted, "Woody Harrelson ribs Pfizer + Moderna brilliantly on @nbcsnl. Hypnotized audience misses the joke.

We rate the claim that Harrelson’s monologue was selectively edited by NBC to remove certain parts False. 

Our Sources

Instagram post, Feb. 26, 2023

Saturday Night Live tweet, Feb. 25, 2023

NBC, "Woody Harrelson Monologue," Feb. 25, 2023

Peacock streaming service, accessed Feb. 27, 2023

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Woody Harrelson’s ‘SNL’ pandemic monologue not selectively edited by NBC

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