Television

This Just In: Satire Is "Negative"

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The rightward-leaning Center for Media and Public Affairs has reviewed the content of The Daily Show in the week before Election Day. It concluded that

If not necessarily fair, the "Daily Show" was balanced in its depiction of the two political parties. 98% of the evaluations of Republicans prior to the election were negative, while 96% of the 'reporting' on Democrats was negative. [pdf]

Prediction: A survey of viewers would reveal the remaining 2% and 4% to be "not funny."

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  1. 97% of what I have to say about politicians is negative as well.

    But I would use the “sandwich approach” whereby the negative comments are “bookended” with positive comments, so that I’m remembered for starting and ending with good sentiments.

    Example:

    “Senator, you’re very punctual this afternoon. I’ve never come across a more fundamentally despicable person than you. Not only are you evil, you’re also fat, stupid and ugly. I wish you’d die already and make this country a better place. That’s a nice necktie.”

  2. I can see how righties wouldn’t like the DS. Mainly because of Stewart’s impersonation of Bush. But hey, when a Dem’s in power he’ll probably do the same thing…right?

  3. While the show bills itself as ‘fake news,’ their reporting prior to the election was 97% negative

    There’s a very good point lurking in there. If they are ‘fake news,’ shouldn’t they be a lot less negative?

  4. I am no longer “Bizarro Juanita.” I apologize for the confusion. The meds have kicked back in and everything is well.

  5. I can see how righties wouldn’t like the DS. Mainly because of Stewart’s impersonation of Bush. But hey, when a Dem’s in power he’ll probably do the same thing…right?
    As much as I like the show, let’s not kid ourselves.

  6. I watch the Daily Show every night. It is my relief from the pro-government b…s… that I see everywhere else.

    John Stewart’s mercy killing of the Tom Vilsack campaign is just one example of how he attacks the Democrats at least as often as he attacks Republicans. Not to mention the Daily Show ridicule of Iran, North Korea and the Bipartisan Party’s other allies in the Axis of Evil.

  7. As a related aside, did anyone notice that Jon Stewart labeled himself a “downtown (I think) libertarian” after Bill Kristol called him an Upper West Side liberal on the Tuesday night show? Had he before then identified himself as such?

  8. Just so you guys know, on the 12 19 episode of The Daily Show, with a republican he was interviewing, the man accused him of being a downtown liberal, But Jon Stewart said “More like a downtown libertarian”

    Jon Stewart is my hero now, he’s so funny and now I find out he is a libertarian (well he might be)

    The full quotes from the show:

    STEWART: Festivus. It’s Festivus.

    KRISTOL: For you. It’s Hanukkah for me. But that’s why I’m a Bush voter and you’re a–

    STEWART: (interrupting) –whatever I am.

    KRISTOL: (interrupting) upper westside liberal of some . . . sort–Festivus? Is that what it is?

    STEWART: Now–(correcting Kristol) downtown libertarian. I think you’re the upper westside–wait a minute!

    KRISTOL: I am. It’s true. It’s–

    STEWART: (interrupting) Neoconservatism–

    KRISTOL: (interrupting) I–I cover that up–

    STEWART: (interrupting) Neoconservatism is just liberalism . . . with old guys! It’s the transformational power of liberty. It’s “I’ve got magic beans! Iraq will grow and flower!”

    KRISTOL: It’s liberalism grown up style–

    STEWART: (interrupting) “Once they realize they’re free, they’ll love us!”

    However he has said somethings before on his show that is a more democrat approach to healthcare. But he could have changed his point of views, or he is not a complete libertarian.

  9. From the looks of it, he’s joking.
    Most of the humor on the show comes from a pretty strong leftist point of view, although he did call Dobbs a Marxist, so he isn’t too far off base.

  10. I love how a supposesly reputable organization with “public affairs” in its name can’t get the politicians’ names right. John DeWine? Let’s try Mike.

    On the other hand, since Senators generally see themselves as gods among men, it’s amusing to see just how little people care about them.

  11. Everyone seems to forget how the late night comedians, Stewart, Letterman, et al, treated Clinton and Gore up to 2000. They helped to make it so no one could take anything about the Clinton administration seriously. (Yes, yes, I know the administration and their Republican opponents did far more themselves.)

  12. I think he’s definitely more liberaltarian than libertarian. Regardless, he’s pretty damn funny, and I’m sure he’ll have plenty of material to work with from Pelosi and company in the upcoming years.

  13. When Colbert left the Daily Show, it diminished by more than half. Colbert is funny as hell. Stewart’s show is more akin to Air America now.

  14. At one point or another every pop culture phenomenon, TV show, philosopher, et al, has been claimed by somebody at reason to be “libertarian.” I’m going to try and get ahead of the wave and right now claim that I have detected evidence of libertarianism at “The Daily Worker” based on their choice of fonts.

  15. mitch,

    Be fair. Stewart and Colbert have each on their shows referred to themselves as libertarian. True or not, it came from their own mouths.

  16. he did call Dobbs a Marxist, so he isn’t too far off base.

    I agree. That was a good call and I doubt the average leftist would say that.

    I believe Stewart was just throwing Kristol for a loop when he said he was a downtown libertarian.
    That interview, btw, was as good as Stewart gets. When Kristol made the mistake of bringing up Clinton’s attack on Africa he opened a door in his “We fight them over there so that..” argument that a seasoned thinker could pounce on and do serious damage. Stewart not only did that, he did it with panache. It was applause worthy.

  17. You say that as if we’re supposed to take what they mention for comedic value seriously.

    I still think they’re great allies to the cause, whether they realize it, intend it, or none of the above.

  18. Oddly, just because it’s 97% negative and ‘fake news’ doesn’t necessarily mean it is less accurate than more “traditional” news sorcery.

  19. My primary sources for daily news are Yahoo, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s news page and the Daily Show.

    Jon Stewart was correct when he said “neo-conservatism is just liberalism for old guys” — that is, liberals and conservatives have different social-values shopping lists, and conflicts between their agenda items and individual rights are thus irrelevant. As a libertarian, Clinton and company did plenty to offend me. But Chancellor Bush has me really scared.

    Back to Stewart, a pro-Republican comment could be construed as an anti-Democrat comment by a Democrat, and vice versa — hence the data.

  20. Stewart and Colbert have each on their shows referred to themselves as libertarian.

    Since Colbert never breaks character on his show, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that the man is not a libertarian.

  21. At one point or another every pop culture phenomenon, TV show, philosopher, et al, has been claimed by somebody at reason to be “libertarian.” I’m going to try and get ahead of the wave and right now claim that I have detected evidence of libertarianism at “The Daily Worker” based on their choice of fonts.
    AMEN. I remember hearing Hugh Downs being called liberterian because he said the LP had a few good ideas.

    What I hate more is that pundits from both sides who are decidedly not liberterian but call themselves that anyways to draw heat off of themselves for being too extreme. Right-wing radio hosts are guilty of this the most…I think I remember Hannity somewhere calling himself Liberterian. Huh?

  22. One of the best things about Colbert’s show is that he never breaks character, so that you might assume his real beliefs are the opposite of what he’s saying, yet he sometimes makes really excellent arguments on behalf of his character’s beliefs.

    If I had to guess, I’d say he believes something like 15% of what he says on the show. He’ll never tell which 15% though.

  23. Colbert referred to himself as libertarian on the show with Penn Jillette. Penn was rampaging around the studio like a rabid monkey and Colbert was quite discombobulated. Colbert was trying to bring the interview back on course. Although I know nothing he says on the show can be taken to be true, he did say it, and the situation was a bit unusual, so maybe he meant it. Maybe?

  24. The percentages above, as Jesse points out, are meaningless, because if a person/people is brought up at all, it is almost always as a chance to ridicule said entity.

    The show and Stewart pretty obviously lean left (even allowing for the Republicans holding power for most of the run of his show). So what. Even “real” news should be allowed their slants and biases as long as those with opposite slants and biases have are allowed to get their messages out as well.

    Stewart not only has to be news-ish, he’s got to be funny, too. So as long as he’s funny, he should be able to attack things from whatever angle he thinks will get him a laugh. The segment they did which seemed to support smoking bans, sure as hell wasn’t something I agreed with, but as long as it was funny, I didn’t really care. It really wasn’t funny (IIRC), but I was prepared to laugh anyway.

  25. There is a certain inherent absurdity in doing a statistical study of a satirical show.

    Their jabberwocks must be as mimsy as the borogroves.

  26. The segment they did which seemed to support smoking bans, sure as hell wasn’t something I agreed with, but as long as it was funny, I didn’t really care. It really wasn’t funny (IIRC), but I was prepared to laugh anyway.
    “Janet has been down so long, she doesn’t even know what up is.”

  27. “Their jabberwocks must be as mimsy as the borogroves”

    The jabberwocks are 2 percent more mimsy than the borogroves.
    I thought everyone knew.

  28. I miss Kilborn.

  29. If you want to see him, I think you can catch him at The Comedy Store cleaning out the bathrooms and keeping the floors espeically clean.

  30. There is a certain inherent absurdity in doing a statistical study of a satirical show

    Yeah. Sheesh, folks, that’s entertainment, for crying out loud.
    It needn’t be said but I’ll say it anyway: when you start taking entertainment seriously you will have become…well, Reason in the Gillespie era.

    Sorry, Nick, but somebody had to say it.

  31. STEWART: Neoconservatism is just liberalism . . . with old guys!

    He’s right, ya know. I believe it was Kristol himself who once described neocons as “old liberals for whom the center has moved to the left…”

  32. Ruthless

    Beamish of you to brillig.

  33. I agree with Josh. I like Stewart, but Craigers blazed the trail.

  34. My personal problem with The Daily Show is that it makes fun of the Democrats when they’re stupid, but makes fun of the Republicans when they’re . . . conservative. Personally, I find that (much like Rush Limbaugh) they’re hilarious when you agree with them, but if you don’t, they’re just not that funny. Of course, The Daily Show is overall much funnier than Rush.

  35. Although many times I have yelled “yeah, hell yeah” in the car while listening to Rush, I don’t think I’ve laughed at any of his, or any other conservitive talk show.
    Conservitives, for some reason, are never really good at humor. Ever listen to Glenn Beck? An abortion on the airwaves.

  36. Although many times I have yelled “yeah, hell yeah” in the car while listening to Rush

    It’s time to admit that you’ve got a problem.
    I don’t care if you are talking about Limbaugh or the Canadians.

  37. grylliade

    “it makes fun of the Democrats when they’re stupid”

    Well, at least the show won’t be short of material.

  38. It’s time to admit that you’ve got a problem.
    I don’t care if you are talking about Limbaugh or the Canadians.

    Limbaugh. I’m not fat/underweight enough to listen to Rush.

  39. I don’t see how you can say hell yeah to anything that druggie hypocrite has to say. Even when he’s saying something relatively correct, he manages to say it in the dumbest way possible that I almost find a way to disagree with.

  40. There is a certain inherent absurdity in doing a statistical study of a satirical show.

    It’s downright inherabsatiritistical!!!

  41. “I can see how righties wouldn’t like the DS. Mainly because of Stewart’s impersonation of Bush.”

    Well, no, mainly because it’s not really funny anymore.

    At least, he’s not. He’s *coasting.* I don’t accept that from the Simpsons, I damn sure don’t accept it from Jon Stewart.

    Craig Kilborn, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

  42. Yeah, it’s a stupid study, not least because there are different sorts of “negative.” When it comes to Republicans, Daily Show humor tends to mock them as evil/stupid/corrupt/whatever. On the other hand, Democrats are often mocked for not standing up to the evil Republicans.

    I stopped watching before the 2004 election, when it seemed like the writers were thinking of themselves as the unofficial Humor Department of the Democratic National Committee. Things became so blunt and so far from even-handed that it stopped being funny (for me, at least).

  43. Both Stewart and Colbert are liberal Dems (in real life). Quit your dreamin’.

  44. Anyone who misses Craig “Smarmmeister” Kilborn has drunk a form of Kool-Aid I haven’t discovered yet.

    And Stewart’s interview of Kristol (and takedown of Rumsfeld’s disingenuous cutesiness a week earlier), as well as his deft derailment of the Vilsack campaign, prove he’s far from “coasting.”

  45. If the Daily Show did a satire on a watchdog group that said its satire is too negative, would we have some sort of Mobius loop of satire?

  46. “would we have some sort of Mobius loop of satire?”

    Murphy has defined string theory, which, in turn, has defined reality.

  47. Although I know nothing he says on the show can be taken to be true, he did say it, and the situation was a bit unusual, so maybe he meant it. Maybe?

    Not based on that bit. I just watched it on comedycentral.com the other night, and Penn was reading off of Colbert’s cue-cards.

    It was cut short, but I think it was mostly a comment on how Republicans give lip service to libertarian ideas, how Jerry Falwell surrounds himself with things named “liberty,” etc.

    But, who knows. Colbert is at least entertaining, unlike the Daily Show. It’s funny because it’s a parody of guys like O’Reilly and Hannity.

    It’s not really a commentary on politics, it’s real fake news.

    Jon Stewart is doing fake fake news, which is to say he’s doing a real newscast with an occasional one-liner so you can’t call him on journalistic standards.

  48. ^Daily Show is a *real* newscast pretending to be fake? Eh . . . not so much.

    I think it’s really interesting when someone uses Colbert to diss the Daily Show. Colbert is more theatrical, which in a way allows him to take more chances because there’s a safe zone; no one really believes he is the character he purports to be. So he appeals to both conservatives and liberals because they can laugh along while not being quite able to pin him down. But anyone who thinks what he does is merely a commentary on O’Reilly and Hannity didn’t see his White House correspondent’s dinner appearance.

    Stewart’s take on satire may draw so close to reality that it draws blood-and it certainly draws more blood than Colbert’s-but it’s still filtered through his sense of absurdity (so if it’s like the nightly newscast with a few one-liners, maybe that just underlines what’s wrong with the MSM). Stewart displays his politics and attitude more openly on his sleeve, which is a kind of effrontery some can’t handle; he takes greater risks because it’s not really possible to divorce him from his stated POV.

    I’m guessing this White House has never found Stewart a laughing matter, but probably did like Colbert once upon a time. I laugh at them both consistently, for different reasons, whether I agree with the “politics” or not.

  49. “Jon Stewart is doing fake fake news, which is to say he’s doing a real newscast with an occasional one-liner so you can’t call him on journalistic standards.”

    Then you actually watch an episode with a pissed off right winger and this BS fades away. The BS Dagny is selling is really not much different than saying David Letterman’s monologue is a real newscast with some one-liners thrown in to avoid journalistic standards.

    Just because Tucker Carlson and Chris Wallace (etc.) are buffoons, that doesn’t bring Jon Stewart closer to legitimate journalism.

  50. Let’s be clear. The Center for Media and Public Affairs is certinaly NOT right-leaning. Just not true.

    Here’s an hour-long interview with Matthew Felling from the CMPA wrapping up media in 2006. Listen for yourselves. Given how many times he bashes Fox News, it’s clear that he does not represent a right-leaning group:

    http://odeo.com/audio/4008443/view

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