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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-08-07 04:09 PM
Original message
Without late-night, candidates get a pass

Without late-night, candidates get a pass

The writers' strike has silenced the satire of Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' and others.
Globe Staff / December 8, 2007

The news broke in straitlaced political circles last week, but seemed to beg for satire: Rudy Giuliani, as mayor of New York, used taxpayer-funded security for trysts with his girlfriend in the Hamptons. The late-night-TV-monologue jokes could have practically written themselves.
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But they didn't, of course. As the Writers Guild of America's strike enters its second month, this presidential race is the first in recent memory with no one on hand to reprocess the news for late-night comedy shtick. Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" are mired in reruns, as are Jay Leno and David Letterman. Conan O'Brien is out indefinitely. "Saturday Night Live" is dark.

Now, in uncharted comedic territory, political analysts are scrambling to sort out what this could mean for the candidates themselves, and suggesting that the humor void could change the way the public views the still-wide-open race. Hillary Clinton, some believe, could benefit from the absence of jokes about her pantsuits and purportedly cold nature: The Center for Media and Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, found that by early October this year, Clinton was the subject of nearly as many late-night jokes as her Democratic opponents combined.

Other candidates, mired in negative news, could profit from the strike, as well: Without a late-night amplifier, damaging news is likely to slip by more quickly, said Daniel Kurtzman, an author and former Washington correspondent who edits the political humor page on, and has tracked political jokes on TV since the 2000 presidential cycle. Giuliani likely escaped a harsher hammering this week, Kurtzman said. And Mitt Romney could be getting off easy on news that illegal immigrants cleared debris from his tennis court.

"If you're a presidential candidate, it's a great time to make a gaffe or engage in full-scale hypocrisy," Kurtzman said, "because it's not going to echo as loudly."

But top-tier candidates could also suffer from a lack of late-night exposure, which makes them seem both relevant and accessible, said Josh Compton, a communications professor at Missouri's Southwest Baptist University. Compton has written about what he calls the "inoculation theory" of late-night comedy. A high-profile drubbing "raises their profile and it actually humanizes them," he said of presidential candidates. "If you see somebody mocked, there's a natural tendency to defend."

At any rate, the lack of late-night jokes leave a palpable void in the political process. Campaigns, once wary of self-mocking have come to accept late-night shows as part of the process, says Frank Donatelli, a longtime GOP consultant who is working for Republican contender John McCain.

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ClintonTyree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-09-07 11:27 AM
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1. It wouldn't surprise me....
if the Republican National Committee is contributing to the television and movie studios' slush fund to keep the writers on strike. It certainly benefits them to NOT have the truth be told, even in comedic form, to the American public.
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