The Politicization of Late Night Comedy

The Politicization of Late Night Comedy

Back in the “before time” prior to the 2016 US Primary Election season I was a fan of American late night comedy shows. I dutifully watched every episode of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert in Comedy Central. I didn’t agree with their political viewpoints but at the time it didn’t bother me. Back in the good old days political viewpoints weren’t force fed down my intellectual throat. Their content was basically comedy with politics sprinkled on top. How I miss the innocence of this time.

The 2016 US Election changed everything. Paying attention to the proceedings I observed how the late night comedy shows slownly changed. They went from beeing largely apolitical to become the hyper-partisan hacks that they sadly are today. There is precious little difference between the political pundits found on the major US news networks and the comedians hosting late night comedy shows. They have become political pundits with politics as an afterthought. Over time I’ve found myself moving away from my regular YouTube-clip bingewatching. They have become more or less insufferable over time. The politicking is now so overt, the partisan point delivery so biased that I barely watch any clips at all.

To me the comedians should at least attempt to aspire to neutrality since they obviously now are newsanchors. If a random comedian wants to bash Trump that is perfectly fine. However what the late night figureheads have done is fundamentally dishonest. They downplay political scandals from their own favored political party/politicians in such a partisan way that I believe they are deceiving their audience. By blowing scandals or rumours from their political foes out of proportion they are simultaneously blowing up their own credibility. Not only is this bad journalism/entertainment it is also dangerous for an open and fair political debate.

On one of his podcasts Stefan Molyneux of FreeDomainRadio mentioned this topic. He mentioned that comedy lowers people’s intellectual defenses. People are natually more skeptical when they approach information coming from either the news or an overt political source. Late night comedians are trusted. They are therefore able to push partisan politics by bypassing the critical faculties of their audience. As a whole the partisan distribution among comedians is remarkably similar to the mainstream media news outlets. The vast majority are left-wing. There are precious few right-wing sources for (good) comedy. Greg Gutfeld is… well, Greg Gutfeld. The only other name that comes to mind is Steven Crowder. He has regular short sketches on his show that I find hilarious. I guess you could add Donald Trump, he had some seriously funny monents on the campaign trail. But he is not a comedian (despite what The Young Turks and others might insist). That is about it for right-wing comedy. The opposite side of the political spectrum has essentially everyone else. Similarly to the skewed perspectives pushed by the out of balance MSM, the situation for comedy is also dire. This is not healthy for an open honest debate.

 

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