Dear Conan: Newark's Not Funny

O'Brien's quips make light of grim inner-city realities
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2009 4:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – There have been some hilarious moments in Conan O'Brien's mock feud with Newark mayor Cory Booker, but there's nothing funny about the plight of America's inner cities, writes Bob Herbert. O'Brien and his audience are mocking a place that, like too many others in America, is "poverty-stricken, run down, often unsafe, its children and teenagers in too many instances going nowhere," Herbert writes in the New York Times.

The poverty, violence and myriad other issues that afflict America's inner cities are getting far too little attention, writes Herbert, noting that 40,000 teachers have lost their jobs over the last year as the country debates sending 40,000 extra troops to Afghanistan. "Conan’s jokes would carry a silver lining, if they could somehow prompt more people to think more seriously about what’s really going on in cities like Newark," Herbert writes.