Political Blog: Satire Has Its Say in Politics


Virginia lawmakers dropped a bill they were trying to pass because of criticism from two surprising places: The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live.  The lawmakers were pushing a bill that would have mandated that women considering an abortion would have to have an ultrasound before the procedure.  The bill was dropped, and has since been rewritten to change the procedure to one less invasive.  But many people are shocked that the leading antagonists for such a bill were the satirical late night TV shows.

This is not a surprise to Steve Jarding, a professor at Harvard.

“You never want to get on the wrong side of popular culture,” he told CBSNews.

The two shows launched skits and commentary that ridiculed and attacked the bill and the lawmakers.  With the pressure and the laughs building up, the Virginia lawmakers decided they had overstepped some boundaries and took a step back to rethink their position.

Satire has been a mainstay in our culture for centuries.  According to a study done by Penn State, political satire originated 2,400 years ago in Greece.  Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show are two of the most popular comedy shows on TV today.  Saturday Night Live has been on the air since 1975 and has been host to some of the most memorable political characters in pop culture history, including Dana Carvey as George Bush Sr. and Darrel Hammond as Bill Clinton.  In the current election it hosted several skits mocking the GOP presidential race, mocking Gov. Perry’s “oops” moment in the debates and Herman Cain’s scandals.

The Daily Show has been on the air since 1996, but was renamed in 1999 to “the Daily Show with John Stewart” when John Stewart became the host.  Posing as a fake news broadcast, the show mocks current events that are happening in the political arena both nationally and internationally.

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