Tuned In

Do You Care If Daily Show Staffers Wrote Jokes for Obama?

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That, anyway, is the word from The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove, who reports that David Axelrod told him the Prez received jokes for his White House Correspondents’ Dinner standup from writers for The Daily Show. (For a review of Obama’s, and Jay Leno’s, performances, see this post from my colleague and history-of-comedy authority Richard Zoglin.)

[Update: According to Comedy Central, it was a single Daily Show writer, not writers plural, who contributed.]

Personally, it doesn’t bother me. That’s mainly because I thought Obama’s routine was funny. And that, in turn, is because I am a huge communist. It does raise the question, though, of what exactly TDS’s relationship is, or should be, to the kind of cozy press-politicos event that it generally satirizes.

Stephen Colbert, of course, satirized the event in person, by speaking at it in 2006 (and discomfiting the attending journos whom he basically called spineless). But arguably it’s a different thing to provide material for a speaker at the event, especially if that speaker is the President, whom your show also satirizes. Conservative media watchdog Newsbusters is already taking exception, and also criticizing the “fawning, gushing, swooning crowd” who ate the jokes up.

This is one of those situations, I guess, where that “we’re just a fake news show” line comes in handy. Still, fig leaves aside, we all know that TDS has become something more than just that over the years. I personally think they’ve dished enough fake-news jokes Obama’s way to deserve this, but when people start to take your show seriously as both a news source and a truth-teller, some people are going to want to hold you to real-news standards.

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