Back in 2007, when Pew Research Center for the People and the Press asked Americans which journalist they most admired, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart was tied with anchors like CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams of NBC, and CBS News anchor Dan Rather. A decade later, Stewart is no longer on Comedy Central and “The Daily Show” is a shadow of the cultural phenomenon it once was, but the blending of comedy, commentary and soundbites has become ever present. HBO has John Oliver, CBS has Stephen Colbert, tbs has Samantha Bee, NBC has Seth Meyers, and even ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, not really known for being political, has received the praise of critics for his emotional monologues about health care and gun control in recent months.
Ratings for cable news broadcasts remain among the highest in television, which provides extra incentive for networks to blend news and commentary. Bob Thompson, founding director of Syracuse University’s Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, says he’s “not willing to call it journalism, but it is investigative comedy—and it’s an important part of the conversation.”
Unfortunately, there’s not much investigating going on from these “investigative comedians.” Their comedy isn’t meant to challenge their audience, much less themselves. Actually, investigating the topics they’re opining about might lead to an original opinion, and that seems downright forbidden. From what I can tell, all of these hosts have the exact same ideology, at least when it comes to subjects like our Second Amendment. Their “investigative comedy” means making the NRA and its members the butt of their jokes. You certainly won’t see any of them poke fun at the hypocrisy of wealthy celebrities or billionaire businessmen who preach gun control while employing armed guards for their own protection. You won’t hear any wry commentary on the effectiveness of gun control in Baltimore, which has had three years of more than 300 homicides since the state of Maryland passed sweeping anti-gun legislation in 2013.
If a burglar gets shot by an elderly armed woman defending her home, it’s not going to get a mention in a single late-night monologue. Hunt a lion, on the other hand, and Kimmel will make your life hell. Bee will urge her viewers to try to stop any potential hunting on wildlife refuges in Alaska. I don’t expect that any of these hosts are going to suddenly find a new respect for our right to keep and bear arms, but I can’t help but think of that Bruce Springsteen song “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” We’ve got more television options than ever before, but when it comes to the Second Amendment, they’re nearly all broadcasting the same anti-gun point of view.
I’m guessing that Hollywood is going to be firmly committed to increasing diversity in 2018, but I doubt that will extend to diversity of thought on gun ownership and gun control. It’s a safe bet that the media landscape will be just as anti-gun at the end of this year as it is at the beginning. Thankfully we have NRATV to provide you with pro-Second Amendment news and commentary throughout your day, and we’re not afraid to stand on the side of our right to bear arms. I can’t promise as many laugh lines on “Cam & Co.” as you’ll get from Colbert, but I can promise you real news, information and commentary you won’t find from the “investigative comedians.”