Moments after his late show kicked off Thursday, Jimmy Kimmel rushed to talk over his raucous studio audience. There were so many topics he was eager to get to, he said, chief among them: Paul Manafort’s sentencing.
On Thursday, Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was sentenced by a federal judge in Alexandria to serve 47 months for tax and bank fraud, an amount significantly less than the 19½ to 24 years recommended by federal guidelines.
“You know a sentence isn’t too stiff when they announce it in months,” Kimmel quipped on ABC. “It’s like when you tell somebody how old your baby is.”
It didn’t take long for social media to explode with reactions to the news of Manafort’s sentencing. But while countless were outraged and argued that the sentence was another example of the country’s flawed criminal justice system, others, including late-night hosts, turned to humor as a way to express their disbelief. On Twitter, users employed a particular shtick: Contrasting the length of the sentence with other common situations. By early Friday, the phrase “47 months” had been tweeted thousands of times.
“I have stuff in my fridge that’s been there 47 months,” one Twitter user wrote.
Being grounded as punishment quickly emerged as a theme.
CNN political commentator Ana Navarro-Cárdenas tweeted that she not only was grounded for “47 months for talking-back to my mom once,” but also had a “chancla,” or flip-flop, thrown at her.
“My mom’s tougher than that lame Judge Ellis,” Navarro-Cárdenas wrote, referencing U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, who sentenced Manafort on Thursday.
As the night went on, the comparisons continued with references to movies, novels and even bodily functions.
Others drew inspiration from their personal lives.
Thursday’s news also did not sit well with late-night comics, who jumped at the chance to ridicule Manafort.
On CBS, Stephen Colbert ripped the sentence, calling it “shockingly lenient.”
“Manafort’s lawyers tried everything to get their client a reduced sentence, except representing an innocent man,” Colbert said, describing the disgraced consultant as a “man with resting indicted face.”
The host noted that though lawyers argued the sentencing guidelines were unfair for a first-time offender, prosecutors pointed out that for a decade, Manafort had “repeatedly and brazenly violated the law.”
“He wasn’t so much a first-time offender as a first-time gettin'-caughter,” Colbert cracked.
But Thursday wasn’t the end of Manafort’s legal troubles, Colbert gleefully informed his audience. Manafort will face a federal judge in D.C. next week for a second sentencing — this time for related conspiracy charges. He could receive an additional 10 years, The Washington Post reported.
“You know you’re in trouble when the only time you get out of jail is to go get sentenced to more jail,” Colbert said.
Even James Corden took time from his Jonas Brothers-themed programming to address the sentencing.
“At this point so many of Trump’s people are headed to jail, it’s going to feel like a high school reunion,” the British host said.
Pretending to have his hands cuffed in front of him, Corden continued: “They’re going to be like, ‘Hey man, good to see you again. You good? Yeah? Trump campaign, Class of 2016, whassup.' ”
There was, however, something for Manafort to look forward to, Corden said.
“Now that the sentencing is behind him, he can get right back to work on completely creeping out his cellmate,” Corden joked, as a picture of Manafort staring intensely flashed on the screen.