Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Real Media Bias Against McCain: Comedy

Politico recently wrote a piece that the media may be writing more negative stories about McCain because he has given them more negative things to write about.

It occurs to me there's another place where I've been detecting media bias in the election: comedy.

I don't watch a lot of late-night TV and such, but just a small sample of jokes seem to be running about 2 to 3 to one as Palin/McCain jokes versus Biden/Obama. Biden may even be ahead of Obama here and closer to Palin as the "Biden gaffe" joke is a pretty common comedy staple. But in terms of everything from sketch comedy to monologues, it definitely seems comedians are having an easier time with McCain than Obama.

I chalk this up to a few factors:

1. It's always a little harder to make fun of the black dude. Bill Mahar does it. Chris Rock, sure. Probably Lisa Lampenelli won't hesitate to go there. Harder to do, however, if you don't have a history of crossing racial boundaries in your humor.

2. Obama's personality is so cool, it's hard to find something there to hang a good joke on. McCain, however, just kind of hands over a fresh joke every day.

3. The jokes about McCain and Palin tend to be more cutting: more dismissing of their political point or competence (witness Tina Fey's portrayals), whereas the jokes about Obama tend to be softer, almost affectionate and making fun of the arguments AGAINST him (like the Saturday Night Live's Obama Variety Special with Bill Ayers, or Letterman's collages of Obama saying "I will tax your ass off"). But again, this has been due to McCain's strategy: it's much easier to turn around a far-out negative attack and make fun of it, than it is to make fun of boring policy positions.

4. As we all now know, it's not smart to piss off David Letterman. I bet no candidate cancels on him again.

5. Segueing from point three: Maybe McCain and Palin have just run a more absurd campaign. Asking comedians to resist making fun of it is like asking the sun not to shine.

But nothing makes the point better than humor. If McCain is having trouble with his negative campaign getting traction, the biggest culprit may be because it's being made fun of nightly, and voters, therefore, are having an easier time seeing through it.

If you ask a comedian, however, I'm sure they wouldn't call it bias. They'd call it a comedic gift.

McCain shows up on Letterman for his drubbing.

1 comment:

Tiffani Ellis said...

My argument is that the Republicans simply deserve it more. I think that some people feel that they are nothing more than a bunch of bullies, and it is simply more fun to pick on the Republican candidates than the Democrats.