September 23, 2016


Yesterday I linked Ross Douthat’s column on what he describes as Samantha Bee-ism – the problem of a universal and exclusionary liberal tone among late night comics like Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, and Bee herself.  Douthat was absolutely over the target in his piece, which led to a serious of escalating self-beclownings among the defenders of the idea that this brand of politicized humor is a good thing – Bee reportedly criticized the column in a conference call, and I’m sure Douthat will be the subject of an Oliver rant soon enough, where he literally destroys people by yelling into a black glass eye for 30 minutes to the seal-like cheers of an audience of people who think exactly as he does.

But it’s impossible for any fair-minded evaluator to deny Douthat’s main point: replacing culture with politics, even late night culture, makes for bad versions of both. Late night comedy has gotten so off the rails of putting comedy first that when one of their fellow liberally minded hosts, Jimmy Fallon, has a softball interview (the only kinds he does) with Donald Trump, it’s viewed as a traitorous act, “normalizing” bigotry by just playing nice with it. And their irritation makes sense: It bothers these late-nighters very much not just that Trump has a shot, but that the brand of humor they and their predecessors used to skewer past nominees just isn’t landing this time around.

As Glenn has noted, “Every four years the GOP nominee is literally Hitler, only to be resurrected as one of the ‘good Republicans’ later in contrast to the new guy who’s literally Hitler.” How many times can the left cry wolf?

Related: Everyone Hush: Conan O’Brien’s Pet Fool [Andy Richter] is Going to Weigh In on Media Bias.

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