While many late-night talk show hosts poked fun at the college admissions scandal (or Operation Varsity Blues, as the FBI called it) in their opening monologues, Late Night’s Seth Meyers devoted an entire segment to it, using his signature “A Closer Look” to take a deep dive into the bizarre details of the case, and also draw connections to corruption in the Trump administration. Karl Lagerfeld even got a shout-out for leaving his millions to his cat Choupette, although, as Meyers observed, “every cat already acts like they have fuck-you money.”
Meyers’s thesis here is that “once you have that much money, it poisons your brain,” referring to the wealthy parents who paid a man named William Rick Singer to bribe their kids’ way into USC, Yale, Stanford, and other elite schools. Because this is far from the easiest way to get into a good college! The typical route for the those who have the means is to pay for a strong education, extracurriculars, and tutors, and raise a child who is worthy of admission because of hard work and the fact that you’ve given them all sorts of opportunities others don’t have. It’s unfair, but it’s somewhat honest. And even if legally begotten grades and test scores don’t get a kid into the “best” school, surely the scions of the rich and famous will get into one of our country’s many excellent non-Ivy institutions.
Then there’s the donation route, the handful of students who are magically taken off the waiting list after their dads promise the university a new library. Why not, Meyers asks, just do that? It’s charitable and, best of all, still legal! But it’s more expensive. Or, as Singer explained in a court document: “There’s a front door which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is ten times as much money. And I’ve created this side door.”
That side door is bribing test administrators and athletic coaches, which, as Meyers points out, creates kind of a complicated ruse to keep up once the kid arrives on campus. It’s not like anyone at orientation is going to check your SAT scores, but if you were recruited to the USC crew team, as Lori Loughlin’s daughters were, and you straight up do not row crew, won’t someone…notice? Another student in this case got into Yale to play soccer, which, guess what, she didn’t. Imagining that coach (who received a $400,000 bribe for the lie) explaining the decision to the team, Meyers joked: “Alright, everybody, gather round. This is our new star player. You’re not gonna see much of her out on the field, but wait until you try her orange slices.” But props to the savvy parents who picked more niche athletics for their kids. As Meyers pointed out, “Of all the sports to lie about, I have to say water polo is the smartest one, because nobody knows how it works.”