“Daily Show” writing staff helped Obama with Whitehouse Correspondents’ Dinner jokes

I don’t know if the Daily Show has ever branded themselves as “equal opportunity offenders” or if other people applied that always stupid moniker to them. But it’s always been clear which way they leaned. In an nondogmatic way, they’ve always been broadly left-of-center, and consequently reluctant advocates of the Democratic Party. They’re less interested about speaking truth to power as they are making as thorough a case against those who they see as riddiculous, and the riddiculous they percieve in the right has only increased while they’re out of power. Just think of how much milage they got on teabagger/teabagging jokes. 

However, reluctant preference has just now crossed into something resembling official support. The Daily Show writing staff contributed to Obama’s monologue at Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Now, in my four years at a college of communications, I’ve been involved in several debates as to whether or not Jon Stewart et.al. are  journalists. Even before this revelation, I’d say no. What The Daily Show affects isn’t even fake news, but repackaging of yesterday’s news with jokes.

As satirists, Stewart and his writing staff are undeniably relevant commentators on politics and media. For example, they represent one of the most rigorous critiques of the newsiness of Fox News to be found in any medium. occasionally, they also add new facts to the political discourse with the inexplicably good interviews they land.

But now, even this somewhat silly aid to a sitting political administration makes me somewhat uncomfortable. It is different from Stephan Colbert’s epic takedown of George W. Bush at the 2006 Correspondents’ Dinner. I’m not sure how well I can translate my Intuition Of General Ickiness into a Reasoned Argument, but there seems to be an all-important distinction to be made in satire between making a negative case against something (what Colbert did) and making a positive case for something (as the Daily Show writers tactically did). It’s a big, fat line that’s been crossed, and can’t now be uncrossed.

The Daily Show has definitely lost some of its “outsider” cred–how much more insider can you get than the presidency? Also, it will be harder to rebut O’Reilly when he accuses Stewart of being an Obama cheerleader–I might even agree with him, (though I think there’s an important distinction to be made between Stewart and Stewart’s writing staff).

As much as I love the show, it will be hard not to think of them as official Whitehouse jesters now.


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