Ever since Barack Obama replaced George W. Bush in the White House four years ago, politically minded comedians have attempted to adjust their focus to a president who is decidedly not the slow-moving target Bush was. And on the eve of election day, it seems Obama is still enjoying his status as a hard-to-make-fun-of commander in chief.
According to a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, Obama’s competition, the GOP’s Mitt Romney is taking the most hits from late-night television hosts. Tracking the number of jokes from the start of the presidential conventions on Aug. 27 until Oct. 3, the study concluded that there had been 148 Romney jokes and only 62 jokes about Obama during the opening monologues of the highest rated late night talk shows.
“Obama is just not that easy to ridicule,” Howard Kurtz, CNN’s media critic said last night on the cable news network.
In the video above, Kurtz mentions that Letterman is anecdotally perhaps the most obviously liberal host. And the numbers back it up. Of all the hosts monitored (Letterman, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson and Jimmy Fallon) Letterman’s Obama to Romney-joke ratio was the most imbalanced, as the Late Show veteran told 44 jokes about Romney and only nine about Obama.
Some of the other findings from the report, according to the Center’s official site, are below:
The disparity was greatest on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” Letterman told 44 jokes about Romney and 9 about Obama, a five to one margin. But all four comedians told more Romney jokes than Obama jokes.
There were 290 jokes about Republicans, more than twice the 138 jokes about Democrats. The Top Ten joke targets included 5 Republicans and 3 Democrats.
For Barack Obama, being bypassed by TV’s humorists is nothing new. In the 2008 general election, CMPA found that he finished fourth with 243 jokes, behind GOP candidates John McCain (658), Sarah Palin (566), and outgoing president George W. Bush (244).
For all four comedians combined, joke totals for the top ten targets of late night political humor were:
1. Mitt Romney (R) – 148
2. Barack Obama (D) – 62
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger — 39
4. Bill Clinton (D) — 28
5. Paul Ryan (R) — 20
6. Prince Harry — 19
7. Clint Eastwood (R) – 18
8. Joe Biden (D) — 16
9. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – 15
10. Chris Christie (R) – 14
Our only complaint about the study is the obvious lack of raw data. For instance, why wasn’t Jimmy Kimmel or Conan O’Brien included in the study?