Late-Night Takes it Easy on Obama

From racism to favoritism, comedians explain lack of jokes
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2008 7:16 AM CDT
Stephen Colbert gestures during the filming of the Colbert Report on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Monday April 14, 2008.    (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)
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(Newser) – John McCain has been skewered by late-night comics throughout the presidential campaign, but Barack Obama has escaped relatively unscathed. As this week's New Yorker cover flare-up made clear, satirists are struggling to find an angle on the Democratic nominee. The New York Times speaks to half a dozen late-night hosts and writers, who cite everything from fear of racism to their own favoritism to explain the silence.

"He's not a comical figure," said one Letterman writer, contrasting Obama with the easy-to-mock Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton. And many late-night writers admit that their own predisposition toward Obama, not to mention their audiences', has led them to go easy. Only Stephen Colbert has gone after Obama—and that's because "my character on the show doesn't like him."