How do you see the role of satire in our political discourse?

The Comedy Central satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are making news in this political season. Stewart has a super PAC, and Colbert is mimicking a run for office. Today’s Question: How do you see the role of satire in our political discourse?

  • Alison

    I love it! It is getting a lot of people to consider campaign rules who would otherwise never give them a thought. These rules are resulting in the ridiculous political climate we live in today and we need more Americans to insist on their reform.

  • Duane

    The only time I see any of their comments is when either MSNBC or Fox show a clip of their show from the prior night. I feel there is no way you can take the serious matters of state and include it in a comedy routine. That said, I am afraid their impact is much greater than it should be. The election of our countries leaders is serious matter and requires informed voters. I doubt that it will come from their routines.

  • GaryF

    Sometimes its funny.

    Problem is, for some people, this is their “news source” for political information.

  • Phil

    Someone has to point out the insanity and double standards of our politicians. It is actually good for the system.

  • Hiram

    These days when the mainstream media is bound by the bias of objectivity and the conventions of he says she says journalism, satire is able breach those conventions, and say those things which neither he nor she are willing to say, but are in fact true. We live in a world where those willing to speak the truth are dismissed by conventional journalists as “truth vigilantes” and are regarded as comedians.

    In “King Lear”, who speaks the truth? The politicians or the fools?

  • Steve (your name here)

    /Problem is, for some people, this is their “news source” /

    As apposed to FOX and MSNBC ?

    Now that was funny! ;^’)

  • Steve the Cynic

    Satire is often the best or only way to speak truth to power without being dismissed as a crank or a whiner and subjected to retaliatory character assassination.

  • Lou

    I totally agree with Alison. They have used it to show the total absurdity of the current political climate in the post Citizens United supreme court decision era. They are using it to prove a point and they are doing a very good job at proving it.

  • Steve (space available)

    FOX appeals to aging baby boomers. The younger generations of Americans do not listen to talk radio and are far more likely to fact-check something online before they passively believe whatever cable news tells them.

  • Joanna

    Watching satire is a better way of expressing my rage than throwing things at my TV set when the GOP Clown Car squabbles over how much control they want over my uterus.

  • david

    As far and Stewart and Colbert are concerned, you’ll find out more of the ridiculousness that’s really going on in politics from them then you will from any other news source (sorry MPR). It was Colbert who first opened my eyes to how bad the superPAC is. And mrs. bachmann is a staple on The Daily show. I never knew how much of a horrible, stupid, evil woman she is until I saw her almost weekly appearance on the show after saying something stupid or insulting.

  • DMox

    You have to laugh. Otherwise you’ll spend the whole election cycle crying about our choices.

  • Satire can be informative; it can be consensually fun; it gives a disproportionate voice to the talented, and should not be used to disparage sovereign members of we the people in order to glorify self.

  • Nona

    Thank goodness Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are opening the discussion on Super Pac’s and educating the public. It is not only the 20 somethings watching, my husband and I are in our late 50’s.

  • Joanie Jet

    ” Satire is too often used as a recruiting tool by one party for the masses that have little knowledge of the day’s events and politics.

    Meanwhile they ignore other stories that should be seriously discussed. For example, the copy of the Hawaii birth certificate shows that Mr. Obama’s father was not a citizen of the United States but of the UK, a citizen of Kenya. His mother was a US citizen but Barack does not qualify as a natural born citizen for the office of president according to the Constitution because of his one parent’s citizenship. Why and when did he change his name back to BHO from the former Barry Sotero while earlier living in Indonesia? Satire won’t touch that with any factual premise. ”

  • Jim G

    When the emperor has no clothes the jestor is one who is best positioned to point out the truth without losing his head. Thankfully Daily and Colbert are our truthers.

  • JasonB

    Political satirists expose the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Listening between stories I can hear what is not being said by the “serious” news outlets, and it’s the satirists that voice this unspoken truth.

    But sometimes political discourse comes so close to being self-satirizing that I ask myself: what’s the difference?

  • Jim G

    @Joanie Jet

    You have no clothes.

  • Mary

    I like the use of satire in the political process. It allows people to let their guard down and listen to the other side while saving face. The media isn’t going to actually report issues in depth. How many people really knew the consequences of the Citizens United verdict. Stewart and Colbert did an excellent job of showing people what it actually means. Perhaps it will lead to people paying more attention to the crap that gets pushed through our congress.

  • GregX

    The “satiric” media is the only approach that has successfully blended a mix of fact-based truth and appealing presentation in competitive contradiction to the over-engineered, psychology-driven, test-marketing vetted rubbish that is promulgated through the traditional formal journalistic media ( TV, Radio, Newspaper, Internet) with its restrictive rules. this is best illustrated by the axiom – as sanitized and presented here : This just in – “There are times when you have to call a shovel a shovel”

  • Joanie Jet

    GET a clue boys, ( JimG and Steve the Cynic), this forum is for individual comments and not your personal back and forth attacks in e-mail bickering when ever you disagree with someone.

    No one cares to hear your sarcastic replies to those who post a comment on the Day’s Question just because you disagree with them. Your comments are like Cyber bullying and should be avoided by all of you but then progressives don’t apply their own values to themselves anymore than they can stop advocating using others money to pay for their own desires?

    For example:

    posted today @Joanie Jet

    You have no clothes.

  • Joanie Jet

    Why do we usually hear only political satire coming from the liberal progressive side and not the conservative view? Do today’s conservatives (not old guard Republicans) actually have higher standards of fairness ? Or do Progressive liberals use media satire as nothing more than a campaigning tool to influence the naive?

  • Steve the Cynic

    “Why do we usually hear only political satire coming from the liberal progressive side and not the conservative view?”

    Because conservatives have no sense of humor? Or because the conservative movement is the aspiring emperor with no clothes? Actually, I’ve seen plenty of satire aimed at progressives lately. Maybe it’s just that conservatives are more apt to take umbrage, so it only seems to them that there’s more satire aimed at them than at progressives.

  • Craig

    Joanie advises the boys against discourse on today’s today’s qeustion. Brilliant.

  • BTJ

    Essential. And as old as Jonathan Swift.

  • Jim G

    Satire is to the body politic like the pain in the neck that occurs when shoveling this wonderful snow. It shows us where a problem or weakness is. I had a real pain this morning @10:00 and I have diagnosed the problem. The solution is the truth: President Obama is a natural born citizen of this country and has passed all the requirements to become President. Any opinions stating otherwise are uninformed or just extremist propaganda. Ahh, better.

  • suestuben

    In the long run, satire may be the best way to quickly educate people. Because its FUN. When we laugh, our brain can actually absorb information faster (maybe because we’re less tense?). So using satire a la “the boys” is not only entertaining but can also make the point the humorist is aiming for.

    At this time in our country’s history, when we’ve pretty much run this democracy into the ditch, I think Stephen Colbert is doing more to show us the incompetence, collusion, and crookedness of our politicians. He’s doing it by making fun of the whole stinking system; people are taking notice and opening their eyes to the garbage being fed to them. The satire is working big time and it gives me hope for the future.

    @’Joanie’ how-dare-you-take-the-name-of-that-great-artist-and-vegan–when is the last time you laughed when it didn’t involve someone in pain?

  • James

    I agree with many of the previous posts. A couple of additional thoughts.

    – Colbert/Stewart/Maher and many of the other satirists just seem smarter than the average or even above average reporter. They get to the issues faster.

    – Maybe it’s a rigged game. They have writers (helpers.) They have time…they don’t have to report something first. They don’t have to report the news; they get to sit in their offices digesting the news that others find and report and then satirize it.

    – I personally can’t watch them anymore. It’s kind of like reading Dilbert or watching The Office. Their stuff is too true and too depressing.

    – But it’s wonderful that they can exist at all, without fear of reprisal from their victims or the authorities (often one in the same.) They are part of what makes America great.

  • Technocrat Terence

    Satire is a rich dessert that should be offered and consumed in moderation. It can be strategically powerful at exposing hypocrisy etc.–which is easy to seize upon, but is more often gratification for the sake of presenter to viewer gratification.

  • Ann

    Doesn’t it seem that satire has made people less respectful? What would have happened to Jimmy Fallon’s band, Roots, if they would have played a song with the ‘b” word for Mrs. Obama or Mrs. Clinton? As a conservative, I see most satire as biased. I think history will show that President Bush deserved a lot more respect than he received from the media.I also think that satire is very depressing. It interferes with the ability to see the good in people and events.The media overblows everything, including the constant coverage and satire of obesity. The weight charts were lowered about 20 years ago. If one examined the statistics, is the problem really that bad? The media reports make one feel guilty about eating or even sitting!

  • GregX

    “Why do we usually hear only political satire coming from the liberal progressive side and not the conservative view?”

    Watch Fox … its some fo the best Conservative self-lampooning ever done. Those “Gretchen Carlson” bits are a Hilarious spoof.

    Does anyone know who that Gretchen character is based on ???

  • Marianne

    Yes satire is necessary in politics.

    Take as an example the commentary of Joanie Jet. This is not an attack but an observation and maybe a suggestion that a psuedonym such as Joanie Jet would flip the trigger of any Smarty-Pants-PollyPistol in satirical material, . Is Joanie Jet sort of a rebel-like, Richie-Cunningham-little-sister-with-a-hit-me-with-your-best-shot-edge? Top that with your constant attacks on what you deem as ‘progressive liberals, the DFL, BO or OWS’ its much like wearing a dress made out of raw meat and stepping into the lions den at breakfast.

    Does Michele Bachman have chutz-pah?

    A world without satire is a world without citizenship.

  • Marianne
  • marianne

    My favorite:

    Candidate Cain puts on his thinking cap – Political Cartoon Satire

    (aka DD Horns of plenty)

  • Joel Hansen

    Satire is the most effective tool to reach the masses without becoming boring or part of the system.