Comedian Jon Stewart, anchor of the satirical Daily Show, apologized today for making a joke about not voting—low hanging fruit on Election day—during a CNN interview yesterday. He said he did vote and called his comment "stupid." NPR reports on the struggle liberal comedians had making fun of Tuesday night's Democratic losses:
"Look, I'm trying to find any way to entertain people who are truly on a ledge tonight," Stewart joked at one point, just before promising to replace the Statue of Liberty's torch and tablet with a Bible and an AK-47 to signal the GOP's success.
The evening seemed to highlight the limits of news-tinged satire on the political scene, as HBO comic Bill Maher's public effort to oust Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline — referred to on his show Real Time as the "flip a district" campaign — also failed.
Kline, whom Maher criticized for being "invisible" while representing a district outside Minneapolis, won his seventh term in office Tuesday despite repeated criticism from the comic, who devoted a website to the effort and even visited the state for a panel discussion on the election.
NPR also pointed out a segment where Stewart made fun of the influence of money in politics:
Rob Riggle played a stack of cash giddily celebrating the dollar's role in the most expensive midterm election in history — and [Stewart] interviewed Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
"Were you surprised that the Democrats' strategy seemed to be curling in a ball and hoping you didn't kick them in the face too hard?" Stewart asked Priebus, setting the tone for the rest of the interview.
That David and Goliath set-up Stewart uses for Democrats and Republicans when it comes to campaign spending is rich. Unions, for example, spent a lot trying to kick guys like Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin targeted for his public sector reforms, in the face but failed. More low hanging fruit for the echo chamber that makes up a large portion of Stewart's viewing audience. Blaming "money in politics," or low voter turnout, or voter suppression isn't going to help Democrats "do better" next time.
Taking an honest look at the centralization-centered agenda behind their message and why it might not resonate in an increasingly decentralized world, for example, might. It's not a comedian's job, but I think in a way the Daily Show's not just a comedy show anymore but a show for like-minded people to have their worldview reinforced. Otherwise the over-the-top reactions to "what Republicans winning means" for America from the team blue diehards doesn't require a lot of work to be pretty hilarious.