A new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs found that broadcast network TV comics hit Democrats the “hardest”. Obama and then Weiner are the most frequent targets, and only Letterman jokes more about the GOP.
Latenight network TV talk show comedians have told far more jokes about Democrats than about Republicans this year, according to a new study of political humor from January 1 to June 30 by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), a non-partisan research organization, which is affiliated with George Mason University. The study covered Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel. Letterman was the only exception, with more jokes about Republicans (139) than Democrats (102).
According to a CMPA press release:
Democrats were the target of 713 jokes in the first half of 2013, or 70% more than the 417 jokes about Republicans.
Barack Obama was the butt of 288 jokes, over twice as many as anyone else. But Democrats would still lead the humor race even if jokes about Obama were excluded.
New York Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner finished second with 120 jokes, even though the study period predated recent reports that he continued “sexting” long after his previous admissions. His totals would be much higher today.
The only Republicans on the top ten list were former president George W. Bush (84 jokes) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (71 jokes).
David Letterman was the only comedian who made more jokes about Republicans (139) than Democrats (102). In CMPA’s previous study during the 2012 election, Letterman had the most one-sided totals in joking about Romney more than Obama.
Jimmy Fallon was the toughest on Democrats, with over three times as many jokes about Democrats (240) as Republicans (76).
Both outgoing Pope Benedict XVI (112 jokes) and incoming Pope Francis I (61) also made the top ten lists of most joked about public figures.
Barack Obama scored the highest as a target for jokes with all five comedians combined, with 288 jokes about the President. Anthony Weiner, before his latest sexting scandal, brought in 120 jokes. Pope Benedict XVI got 112, Joe it’s-a-BFD Biden was the target of 88, while George heckofa-job-Brownie Bush got only 84 and Chris Obama-hugger Christie trailed with 71 jokes. Edward Snowden brought up the rear of the top ten targets with 45 jokes.
If you read a few of these jokes, you can see what sets most of these late nighters apart from Jon Stewart: They know next to nothing about what’s actually going down in DC, so they’re just picking through the headlines for the easy targets. To wit, two samples provided by the CMPA: Jay Leno, “A lot of critics are now comparing President Obama to President Nixon. The good news for Obama? At least he’s no longer being compared to President Carter.”
Yes, har har. Actually, Carter is brilliant. He also happens to represents what the GOP claims to be: Carter is a values leader. No wonder the GOP has such an aversion to him.
Let’s contrast Leno with Letterman, who is the only network late nighter who understands who the real joke is in DC, “Polls indicate that the American public actually misses George W. Bush…Let’s see, two wars, an economic collapse and mortgage crisis Ah it’s hard not to be nostalgic. Those were the days!”
According to CMPA President and George Mason University Professor Robert Lichter, “Where scandals go, latenight comedians follow. These days that means they’re following the Democrats.” I think Professor Lichter meant to say, “Where fake scandals get reported as real, comedians follow…” But I digress. Rather than seeing this as the press out to get Democrats, it’s simply more proof that low hanging fruit drives our news cycles. From there, it seeps into popular culture and becomes accepted “fact”.
A good portion of Americans who do not follow the news at all believe Obama had something to do with the IRS targeting conservatives, due in part to this kind of late night network laziness. Those same low information voters will shake their head and pronounce, “Both sides do it,” a false equivalency which used to belong to Jon Stewart until he had an awakening. “Both sides do it” only sounds smart to those who don’t pay attention to actual policy and voting records.
Even with all of these falsehoods taking root, the Republican Party still polls much lower than President Obama, which explains why they work so hard to make you fear and hate the President. Imagine where his polls would be without all of this effort. And that also explains why I used a picture of President Obama laughing. A President should expect to the target of jokes, and she/he should have thick enough skin to laugh it off.
As for Anthony Weiner, what comedian could resist.
For CMPA findings on the Obama administration see: http://cmpa.com/studies_political_obama.html