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August 05, 2013

Study: Democrats more often the butt of late night jokes

With President Obama poised to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno this week, a new survey of political humor shows late night talk show hosts are taking more aim at Democrats than Republicans this year.

That's a reverse from the Center for Media and Public Affair's earlier finding that Republicans were more often the butt of jokes during the 2012 presidential election. According to center president and George Mason University Professor Robert Lichter, "Where scandals go, latenight comedians follow. These days that means they're following the Democrats."

From Jan. 1 to June 30, the center analyzed the targets of all jokes about public figures in the opening monologues of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.

Democrats were the target of 713 jokes in the first half of 2013 -- or 70 percent more than the 417 jokes about Republicans. President Barack Obama was the butt of 288 jokes, over twice as many as anyone else.

Democrats would still lead even with Obama excluded. New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner finished second with 120 jokes, though the study period predated recent reports that he continued "sexting" long after he left office. The only Republicans on the top 10 list were former president George W. Bush -- at 84 jokes -- and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 71.

Obama will tape Leno's show on Tuesday. Here's a sample the survey counted as a Leno-Obama barb: "A lot of critics are now comparing President Obama to President Nixon. The good news for Obama? At least he's no longer being compared to President Carter."


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Bill Carlson

I that an Tea leaves reading or a Tarot cards reading?


70% more barbs directed at Democrats? That couldn't possibly be true. Every Republican knows about the "liberal bias" in the (old, white, ultra-wealthy owned) media.

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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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