A new study of late night humor has the Associated Press marveling at how the tide has turned from Republican to Democratic targets this year.
A quick glance at the facts, and the context, tells the real story–a wire service and media center teaming up to deny the undeniable liberal bias in late night television.
Obama was the target of 288 monologue jokes made by Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Kimmel, according to an analysis released Monday by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.
The next most joked-about individual was New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, at 120. His numbers are likely to jump fast, since the study period was before the second round of Weiner’s sexting scandal.
In 2012, Mitt Romney was the butt of more than twice as many jokes as Obama, and Republicans were similarly the target of more than double the jokes that were made on Democrats.
Here’s the center’s president, Robert Lichter, explaining that the jokes simply follow the news cycle. “They’re going after the most visible and powerful people that they can,” Lichter said.
Who was more powerful in 2012, the president of the United States or the GOP contender who endured a bruising primary campaign? Yet Romney was hit more than twice as hard as Obama by Jimmy Fallon and co. during an election year.
AP then quotes an oh, so rare jab at Obama made by David Letterman, a host whose partisanship has become glaring in recent years, as proof that even the gap-toothed comic is turning on Obama.
The lack of comedy narratives against Obama and the Democratic Party is all the proof needed about liberal bias in the late night realm. Comics pounced on President George W. Bush as a dumb cowboy, a theme they still hit today when the urge hits. Romney was the rich kid who ignored the poor, a robot who couldn’t relate to the common man. Joke after joke, those narratives worked their way into the public discourse. Today’s comedians simply won’t do that to Obama, even if they hit him with a gag or two.
It’s also easier for comics to lob a joke at Obama now. It’s not an election year, so the gags won’t leave a mark at the voting booth.