Late-Night TV, Ch. 13-14

Politics & Late-Night TV
Dr. Kristen Landreville
Fri. 10/08, Mon. 10/11, & Wed. 10/13
Laughing Matters, Ch. 13-14
Ch. 13
SNL and Presidential Elections
Ch. 13 – SNL Debates
 Ch. 13 is a rhetorical analysis of SNL debate spoofs
 Review of how persuasion strategies impact public outcomes
 Politics in Rhetorical Terms
 Rhetorical genres: tragedy, comedy, satire, epic, grotesque, etc.
 Politics is tragedy
 Public wants comedy to relieve tragedy
 Comedy eases tension, seeks exposure of criticism, and reconciliation of
Comedians play roles, rather than making direct commentary
Less abrasive and more comic clown than Stewart, Colbert
Appearances signal acceptance and redemption through comic frame
2000 – High impact
2004 – Low impact
Debates in US History
 Debates since 18th Century
 Lincoln-Douglas 1858
 First televised debate
 1960 Kennedy v. Nixon
 80% Viewership
yNf0&feature=related (start at 4:35)
 Impact
Image-based decision-making
Debate coaching
Next debate, 1976
No. 1 watched campaign event
Notable Debate Moments
 These moments impacted election outcomes.
 1976: Carter v. Ford
 Ford’s gaffe about Eastern Europe and Communism
 1980: Carter v. Reagan
 1992: Bush v. Clinton v. Perot
Ch. 13
SNL and Presidential Elections
2000 Presidential Debate Analysis
 1st Presidential Debate: Gore v. Bush
 Focus on domestic issues
 Highlight reel of notable moments
 SNL Parody (go to 3:13 minutes in)
 Influence of SNL
 Gore adapted his personality
 Gore called chameleon
 Dip in Gore’s poll numbers
2004 Presidential Debate Analysis
 1st Presidential Debate: Bush v. Kerry
 Focus on Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, security
 SNL Parody
 Focus on Kerry’s pandering and flip-flopping
 Focus on Bush’s “it’s hard” attitude and annoyed demeanor
 Influence of SNL
 Parody not as strong
2008 VP Debate Analysis
 Vice-Presidential Debate: Palin v. Biden
 SNL Parody (go to 9:45)
In-Class Assignment #10
 How does SNL parody Palin and Biden?
 What characteristics are exaggerated?
 How accurate is the parody of Palin and Biden?
 Do you think the SNL parody influenced anyone?
Ch. 14
The Daily Show as the New Journalism
Ch. 14’s Argument
 Stewart denies power, influence, agenda, and platform.
 Crossfire cancellation proof of influence
 Daily Show rejects the 4 information biases
 Daily Show is a new journalism
Exposing the Political Spectacle
 Stewart’s description of news media
 Political campaigns as “product launches”
 “Spectators at a sales pitch.”
 News as theater
 Remedies
Art: Works independent of symbiotic relationship
 Daily Show beholden to no one
 Not dependent on official or privileged access
Counterdiscourses: Challenge hegemony, undermine
presuppositions, offer alternatives
 Stewart’s alternative journalism
 Abandon normative assumptions
Questioning Objectivity
Stewart’s Criticisms of Objectivity
 Two sides stick to talking points
 Maintains status quo
 Media is the moderator only, not a judge of BS
 Reasons: Want biggest audience as possible  Stay neutral
 Take two sides’ arguments at face value  Don’t
challenge the BS
 Daily Show example (start at 1:20)
Addressing Bennett’s 4 Biases
Stewart’s Analysis
 Partisan or political bias?  No
 “The bias of the media is not liberal—it’s lazy. It’s sensationalist.
But, it’s not liberal.”
 Bennett’s 4 biases Yes
 Dramatization and personalization (start at 5:05)
The Indexing Hypothesis
Indexing Hypothesis Definition
 The journalistic practice of opening or closing the news gates
to citizen activists and a broader range of views.
 News media index, or rely on, officials and elites.
 Pack mentality exacerbates this.
 Daily Show uses juxtaposition to reveal indexing hypothesis
 Al Sharpton’s Speech at 2004 Democratic National
 Media criticizes, downplays, and marginalizes him
The New Journalism
 Reveal the political spectacle
 Abandon objectivity
 Showcase the absurdity of the 4 biases
 Demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between news media
and politics
Limitations of The Daily Show
 Low viewership to constitute a societal trend
 Hard to escape the jester role to be taken seriously
 Sometimes fails at the new journalism (e.g., Kerry interview)
 Brushes aside any responsibility to public
 Fails to address impact of news economics and market