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Court jester journalists

Court jester journalists

They said Cronkite’s journalism brought down the Vietnam War and President Johnson.

They used to say that once a president became fodder for late night comics, he was cooked.

President Nixon was the most famous natural enemy of the press.

Presidents Bush and Clinton were too much for the late night comics to pass up.

We said “so long” to the press speaking “truth to power” years ago. Their ideology and partisanship gave us Rush Limbaugh and the vast medium of talk radio that followed his lead. Look no further than former CBS investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson if you need more proof.

Attkisson has become a liberal lightning rod – sharing her story of a press and political “clubhouse” where membership demands loyalty to one another first rather than the public they serve. From the National Security Administration’s tapping of journalists phones to press corps blackouts during White House travel – yes, journalism flat-lined long ago.

But, there was still comedy. Comedy gave us a respite from politization.  If you were powerful, you were eventually a target.  Rich, famous, scandalous, popular, unpopular – no matter.  Our comedians and comedy shows would always speak truth to power and serve as the great societal equalizer.

No longer.  Something deeply disturbing is happening in comedy. Not just here or there, but broadly. Comedians and those in comedy writing are choosing political sides. By force or by choice – they’re drawing political battle lines instead of writing punch lines.

They’re even being employed and engaged directly – smartly – by the White House to sell wildly unpopular policy. Not only does the political left have a pass from the press, but they’ve neutralized the comedians, too. By embracing them.

Years ago, many comedians had simply declared there was “nothing funny about Barack Obama.” Not wasting such a golden opportunity, the President now puts comedians to work in a bizarre, propaganda hybrid of “court jester journalists.”

Funny fascists, if you will.

It became profoundly obvious watching the now infamous “Between Two Ferns” episode featuring comedian Zach Galifianakis and President Obama. Credited with pushing Obamacare enrollment across the finish line – the event marked the first time in history that a president was rescued by a comedian rather than ridiculed.

One of the most unpopular, intolerant, damaging policies to come out of Washington D.C. in many of our lifetimes is Obamacare. Yet, who was there to help sell it and bail out the wounded politician? A comedian – literally credited by the President with spreading “the good news” about Obamacare to his fans and followers.

Court jester journalism.

President Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney recently stated Jon Stewart was the “most substantive, challenging interview” the President was given in election year 2012.

There was a time not long ago when a president wouldn’t think of granting an interview to a comic. Today, he not only grants the interview, but also praises the comic for conducting it. Jon Stewart, the man who actually wept with euphoria at Barack Obama’s victory on election night, 2008 is praised as “substantive and challenging” by the White House.

This White House praise of Stewart serves another important purpose. It tells Americans that going forward, the place to learn about President Obama and his policies are comedy shows. Trust Jon Stewart for the facts. Dare I say, maybe one day he can host a presidential debate!

Court jester journalism.

Steven Colbert was hired to replace David Letterman and the biggest news to come out of the hire is what Rush Limbaugh had to say about it. Rush’s suggestion that it was “an attack on middle America” became a “man-your-battle-stations” moment for the left yet again.

How important is Steven Colbert to the left? I’ll put it to you this way. Bill Clinton follows exactly ten people/organizations in the world on Twitter. One of them is Steven Colbert.

Why are so many entertainers and liberals so adoring and protective of Steven Colbert? Because they know Rush is correct. We all know who Colbert is. He’s a Democrat.  He’s a leftist. And that’s fine, but lets stop with the aggressive sales pitch that he’s “so much more!”

He’s made his living mocking conservatism. And now, the country is being asked to forget all that and just trust he’s the next Johnny Carson? An equal opportunity joke teller?

He’s a court jester journalist for the left.

The bigger picture is simply that comedians are acutely aware of their duty to the popular and political culture today. Comedians’ role in popular culture hasn’t been this significant in generations. That’s why their material must be politicized much like the climate, education, food, energy and health care.

Flip around on TV. Comedians are selling everything from clothes to cars to credit cards these days. Now add to the pitch list – unpopular, conformist policies out of Washington. Mock the non-conformists and non-compliant, while enjoying a hearty laugh with the court jester journalists and their king on the guest couch.

And like history’s court jesters, today’s comics must meet expectations. Expectations of their jokes. Expectations of their behavior. You see it in the predictability of Saturday Night Live’s lame “everybody’s-a-dummy-but-Obama” sketch writing to former SNL-er Dana Carvey’s expressed incredulity at some comics still telling Sarah Palin jokes.

Comedy today is expected to suck up to the left and ridicule the right. Stray from that formula and there is a price to pay. Rulers have historically punished poorly performing jesters. Just as the left does today. Take, for example, some of these comedians who dared to cross liberal conformists and their rulers of late:

Jerry Seinfeld’s web based “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” was criticized for the comics featured being “too white.” Seinfeld got in further trouble when he dared to dismiss the criticism.

30 Rock star, and SNL alum Tracy Morgan is still apologizing about his stand up act in 2011 when he told a joke about his hypothetical reaction to his son coming out as gay.

Another former SNL-er, John Lovitz continues explaining himself to his liberal friends for angrily criticizing President Obama’s class warfare rhetoric that the “richest Americans” aren’t paying “their fair share.”

Jimmy Fallon was a recent HEADLINE on “the Drudge Report” for his “Tonight Show” audience’s reaction to a Hillary Clinton pants suit joke.  Fallon sheepishly responded to the audience’s groans of displeasure: “C’mon, guys. It wasn’t that hard.”

Comedian Patton Oswald tweeted his support of a column penned by conservative author and radio host Mark Steyn. Oswald’s liberal friends and fans have been blasting him on Twitter for daring to show support for anything Steyn has to say.

Steyn’s column title, ironically? “The Slow Death of Free Speech.”

I’d add comedy to that title. Laughing along with the king may be how court jester journalists will keep their jobs. But it signals the end of the kingdom.

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