The Politics of Satire

Poking fun at the New Yorker magazine's cover depicting the Obama's as Muslim Terrorists Vanity Fair magazine countered with a cover featuring a geriatric depiction of the McCains.

In next week's issue of Entertainment Weekly magazine Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are bumping fists further satirizing that New Yorker magazine cover. I think that, for once, the right kind of magazine is showcasing this kind of satire. Stewart and Colbert both broadcast (as Stewart calls it) The Fake News and do a pretty good job satirizing the whole political process. I find this kind of satire helpful because you know what it is when you are watching it.

Of course many people have a hard time seeing this kind of satire when they listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch Keith Olbermann. Folks on the right and left side of the political aisle substitute this kind of satire for real news and believe the hype. The sad part is that people are not open to factual reporting and demonize the media deferring to their favorite radio or TV squawk-spinner.

I think that satire has it's place in politics but should not be embraced as hard news. We Americans should not be making our voting decisions based on satirical TV ads, spinning-talking-heads or the views presented on the Comedy Central cable TV network.

Just my opinion. What do you think?


  1. Oh that cover is precious.

    Yeah I think too many people base their opinions on ... opinions, whether it's sound bites, satire, or the local op ed page.

  2. Satire is trendy and people like to be trendy. The best satire wins those people over.

  3. Basing opinions on opinions - that is insightful Scott.. and so true.

    I think that the popularity of SNL over the years speaks to how people love political satire jrchaard.

  4. Satire is a sin. I could never condone that sort of thing.

  5. Missy had me going for a second there... lol! I agree, humor is for humor and sound-byte spin and op-ed pages have their limitations. Additionally, some networks are so thoroughly biased (Fox leans so far right, they almost fall over, and same with MSNBC in the direction of the left).

    For actual *news* reporting with journalistic professionalism, I prefer The Economist (right leaning) and BBC (left leaning). Besides the higher standards in reporting, I also find it helpful to hear an "outsider" perspective that doesn't have as much invested in this election as we do here at home, because it tends to be less emotional. (Nothing wrong with emotions, just when you are trying to make informed decisions, they can get in the way).

    Sorry, that comment was a bit long!

  6. Great thoughts about getting an outsider perspective Sarah!

  7. I have no problem with satire that points out the weaknesses and fallacies of a position (on either side of the spectrum). I do have a problem with satire that avoids real substance and trivializes important issues.

    btw . . . voting according to the candidates positions rather than my perception of them (formed from the opinions of others) sounds familiar. Hmmmmm. Where HAVE I read that? ;)

  8. Great question, KB.

    I don't base my information gathering and trusting on whether it comes from Comedy Central or MSNBC, but whether it makes sense. Jon Stewart unwraps some of the critical points of these campaigns, and when he brings up a fault in a candidate, it makes sense. He's got my ear the once per month I watch some youtube someone's linked of him.

    Bill Maher is an idiot.

    That about sums up my perspective on the issue.

    I loved the Economist, but I obsessively read magazines pretty much from cover to cover and it was about killing me. I had to give it up.

    I get most of my information these days from Instapundit. He's a safe right-leaning aggregator, and an easy read.

  9. Took a brief tour of Instapundit CP and he and his readers seem to be majorly in the tank for McCain.

    Being undecided, I'm more interested in catching venues that offer both sides of an issue.


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