This past week, Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert have said things about President Trump that would have gotten any late night “comedian” fired had they said the same things about President Obama. Of that there is no dispute. But overall, are things really that much different than in recent years? Does late night TV really offer unbalanced attacks against Mr. Trump, compared to Obama, for example? The data is in and the answer is clear.
Over Trump’s first 100 days in office, late night jokes targeted Trump 1,060 times, according to a study by George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs. Those 1,060 punchlines tower over the numbers hit during the entire first year of recent presidents. For example, Mr. Obama was targeted 936 times in his first year. Trump is on pace for 3,557 attacks during his first year, or 3.8 times more than Obama.
Perhaps the reason is that Trump invites such criticisms/jokes. Not so fast. What could have possibly provided more fodder for late-night comedians than the Bill Clinton affair with Monica Lewinsky? Yet, Clinton’s 1,717 jokes in 1998 were less than half of what Trump is facing in 2017.
So far this year, Trump-targeted jabs have outpaced jokes told about all Democrats, 1,060-95. That’s a ratio of 11/1.
But many will contend Mr. Trump says things that invite such cynicism and ridicule. Again, not so fast. Trump’s family members have been targeted 97 times, more than all Democrats combined. Let me say that again. Late night television is going after the President’s wife, daughter, and ten-year-old son at a higher frequency than their combined attacks on the 241 elected Democrats who populate the Senate and House of Representatives.
The George Mason University report concludes that Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel have ridiculed the President’s immediate family more than they have attacked Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi (“You must pass the Democratic bill before you can read it”) and Chuck Schumer (“We will oppose this president at every turn”).
Can you imagine the outcry if the media had attacked Chelsea Clinton or Barack Obama’s wife or children this way?
I remember a time when the President’s family was off-limits. I remember a time when late-night comedians would have been fired for making “jokes” about incest within the President’s family and bleeped-out “jokes” about his manhood. I remember a time when such despicable, immoral speech would earn universal condemnation among an unbiased mainstream media. I even remember a time when we had an unbiased mainstream media.
I really feel old.