The NYT published a storyÂ today that should be considered a must-read.Â The focus of it is the fact that whiteÂ late night TVÂ talk show hostsÂ are finding it difficult to joke about Barack Obama, and even though they won’t admit it outright, reading between the lines you can see that it’s primarily due to the fact that he’s black, and they don’t want to be painted with the “you’re a racist” brush.Â Â The article points out that the audiences that attend the shows tend to beÂ consist primarily of white Barack Obama supporters who the comedians don’t want toÂ offend.
WTH?Â Comedians not wanting toÂ offend a group of people?
There are so many things wrong with this story it isn’t even, well, funny.Â First, the fact that comedians are reluctant to joke about Barry Oh! because they’re worried they’ll be viewed as racists smacksÂ of the same type of worryÂ manyÂ critics of Obama have, namely that by opening your mouth and saying something even remotely unflattering about this year’s Democrat American Idol winner that you’ll be lumped in with the fringes on both the left and right whose criticism of Obama is based solely on the fact that he’s black.Â Â How will this fear from both comedians and the general electorateÂ carry over beyond theÂ presidential election should Obama win?
The second thing about this story that should generate a serious eyeroll is the fact that these late night talk show hosts are worried about offending people.Â Um, when did this ever stop them from making tasteless jokes about the President and others in his administration? Last I checked, it never did/has.
Finally, there’s the myth generated by the article that suggests that the late night hosts just don’t have any good material to use on Obama.Â Nonsense, writes Weekly Standard blogger Jaime Sneider:
The notion that Obama hasn’t provided sufficient fodder — have they forgotten the campaign seal, his love of Honest Tea, his passed out Body Man — for comedy writers is laughable. More laughable than their programming, in fact. If they need some help, they should call up Rob Long at National Review. But to say there is no joke in Obama talking about the price of arugula at Whole Foods in a speech in Iowa — a state that doesn’t even have a single Whole Foods — is a ridiculous lie.
Indeed.Â Not toÂ mention the 57 states gaffe, his penchant for flip-flopping (hey, what comedian couldn’t make a few good jokes out of that?), his visit to Mt. Rushmore (an ego joke or two wouldn’t be impossible to write), his 37 bowling score, his statement that hisÂ time spentÂ overseas as a child qualifiesÂ as “foreign relations” experience?Â And so much more.
The bottom line, in my opinion, is that in addition to the fact that he’s black, and the fact that comedians are worried they’ll be branded as racists, Leno and co. probably aren’t big on making jokes about The Chosen One primarily because it’s a strong possibility that in addition to their respective audiences, they, too, support BO (something Karl from PW caught from the article as well).Â Â I don’t think we’llÂ have to wait for theÂ first time we hear of one of them hosting and/or attending a SF-esque Obama soiree to know for sure, either.