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Thursday, October 16, 2008

NO JOKE: Late Night Comics Beat UP GOP 88% of Time

It could be political Bias or just the fact that Barack Obama is simply not funny. But a new study shows that Jay Leno and Davide Letterman make seven jokes about McCain/Palin for every joke about Obama/Biden. The Center for Media and Public Affair counted all the political jokes made by the late night hosts during the five weeks after the conventions. Republicans got bashed 286, Democrats only 42 times:

Late-Night Comics Skewer Republicans 7-to-1, Study Finds If you're a fan of Jay Leno or David Letterman, you may already know this: You have to listen to seven Republican jokes for every one the late-night comedians tell about Democrats. By Jennifer Lawinski

John McCain returned to "Late Show With David Letterman" Thursday night, but should the onetime media favorite have been preparing for an ambush?

A study shows the Kings of Late Night are not equal-opportunity destroyers this year when it comes to telling jokes about the candidates for president and vice president -- they're hammering Republicans a stunning seven times more often than they skewer Democrats.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs, a media analysis group, kept a tally of jokes told about the presidential contenders on the "Late Show" and "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in the five weeks after McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate and vaulted the little-known Alaska governor into the national spotlight.

The total: Republicans, 286. Democrats, 42.

"Generally the Republicans get targeted much more often than Democrats, but this election is driving it off the charts," said CMPA Executive Director Donald Rieck.

Letterman and Leno told 106 jokes about McCain and 180 about Palin in the 25 shows that aired between Aug. 29, when McCain chose her, and Oct. 2, the date of the vice presidential debate.

Click here to see photos of McCain in the late-nite hot seat.

Barack Obama, who may be Leno's guest next week, was targeted only 26 times -- barely once a night. His gaffe-prone running mate, Joe Biden, who is scheduled to appear on Leno Thursday night, was hit only 16 times, not even one-tenth the number of jokes told about Palin over the five-week period.

McCain's date with Letterman Thursday came weeks after he canceled a scheduled appearance in September that left the late-night comedian hopping mad.

"I screwed up," McCain told Letterman on the set when asked about the cancellation. He jokingly said he asked his son in the Marine Corps to FedEx his flak jacket in preparation for the visit Thursday.

The Republican candidate canceled his previous appearance so he could go to Washington to deal with the economic crisis. While recording his show, Letterman learned that McCain was still in New York, doing an interview on the CBS Evening News, and he spent much of his show skewering the Republican who stood him up.

Palin also has taken a big hit from the late-night comedians -- and from Saturday Night Live, where Tina Fey's parody of the vice presidential candidate has skyrocketed the show's ratings. It is rumored that Palin will make an appearance on SNL on Oct. 25.

"Palin's just a bonanza for these guys," said Rieck. "You have a woman who shoots wolves from a helicopter; whether she's a Democrat or Republican, that's just a bonanza. Biden's kind of boring compared to that, isn't he?"

Obama is almost as boring to comedians as Biden, said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.

"He is kind of a comedian's worst nightmare," Thompson said. "He doesn't do anything. He doesn't fall down like Gerald Ford did. He's not filled with scandal and isn't a sexual player like Clinton was. He doesn't misspell words like Dan Quayle did.

"The size of his ears is about all they have to work with."

Tim Graham, director of media analysis for Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, said the comedians' tendency to avoid mocking Obama comes from a fear of being called racist.

"There is a racial minefield that they're trying to avoid," Graham said. "I think they see Obama as a historic figure, and because he's a historic figure it's like making jokes about Martin Luther King."

Palin, like President Bush, has been pegged as dumb by the comedians, Graham said.

"All of the prejudices that the liberal media elite have towards the hockey mom from Alaska are clearly coming through with these New York-based and LA-based comedians, probably as strong as or more strongly than they're coming across in the news media," he said.

Should Obama win the presidency, his get-out-of-jokes-free card from the late-night comedians will expire, said Thompson, leaving him just as vulnerable as McCain and Palin have been during the election.

"He is by no means a comedian's dream-come-true the way Bill Clinton was," he said. "But you can't be in that office without delivering material people can work with.

"I am convinced that when comedians die and go to heaven, Bill Clinton is still president. When Monica Lewinsky came along, the jokes wrote themselves."

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