Anyone watching Saturday Night Live over the past five-plus years knows how infrequently the show targets President Barack Obama.
It wasn’t always that way.
Past SNL casts have mocked Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush with alacrity.
Show creator Lorne Michaels has a reason why SNL is tougher on Republicans these days. They can take a joke better.
Michaels actually trotted out that excuse during an interview with Vulture.com, an exchange that illustrated the bias behind the show as well as the faulty logic used to try and explain it away.
Are there any basic rules for what works and what doesn’t politically?
Republicans are easier for us than Democrats. Democrats tend to take it personally; Republicans think it’s funny. But we’re not sitting here every week going, “We’ve really got to do the First Family….” We’re doing more of [current pop culture events] than stuff about Benghazi or the new budget agreement. The country has lost interest in it. I can’t tell you why. It’s no less important, but in some way you can’t do health care more than twice, at which point there’s just nothing left. But Jay Pharoah does a really good Obama.
Comedy is all about themes, from Bush’s alleged stupidity to Clinton’s raging libido. SNL once tore into those memes without regret. Heck, former SNL star Will Ferrell continued his Bush bashing on Broadway. Now, after two weeks a topic like ObamaCare, which affects millions of people, is off limits after two consecutive shows. Tell that to Jay Leno, currently scoring big ratings while mocking ObamaCare for the last few months.
Later in the Q&A, Michaels swears the show doesn’t have an agenda.
Our job–and it sounds too grand to say and none of us ever say it–is speaking truth to power. I’m registered as an Independent, not because everything that we do would be undermined if we were partisan–Jon Stewart has that role. Us? Theoretically, whoever it is in power, we’re against them.
Michaels sounds like a mainstream media reporter who insists he or she has no liberal bias, all the while public trust in journalism continues to plummet due in part to that very bias.
SNL couldn’t mock anything about Obama for four-plus years, and only when the ObamaCare web site became a national laughingstock did the show wake up to the fact that Obama might not be ready for Mr. Rushmore.
If Michaels’ and co. are there to speak truth to power with comedy, their dereliction of duty is palpable.