University of California Los Angeles Political Coverage of The Pandemic Discussion

This week’s news protocol focuses on identifying horse-race coverage in the context of COVID-19. Find FIVE examples of news stories or video clips related to COVID-19 that discuss the pandemic in terms of political winners and losers. You may focus on the presidential election campaigns, party politics, or stories on the levels of local and state politics.

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5 clips related to political topics from comedy shows

One of the biggest political topics throughout all comedy shows the past 5-7 years has been
about Donald Trump. In this John Oliver clip, he uses jokes and humorous comparisons to
describe his actual concern of Donald Trump potentially becoming president of the United
States (please note, this clip is from 5 years ago). While some may think Donald Trump jokes
have been overused, this clip shows the very beginning of poking fun at him. This political
comedy clip is fresh, new, and amusing. While John Oliver gets laughs from the audience after
everything he says, he is still reporting news. He provides data and information from several
sources: interviews, articles, social media accounts, etc.
Donald Trump jokes are very amusing, even to this day. Most politicians can take a joke and
move on, but this politician has had a hard time taking each joke with a grain of salt. In this clip,
John Oliver even shows a clip from an interview with Donald Trump discussing a “Twitter feud”
between him and John Oliver himself. This, in turn (as we have witnessed) causes more
comedy show hosts to poke fun at Donald Trump because he will fight back, give traction to the
comedy show, and most likely make Donald Trump look bad.
John Oliver goes on in this clip to debunk certain things Trump supporters may have said about
him. While John Oliver does not outright say, “Do not vote for Donald Trump,” he insinuates this
more than a few times. Whether the audience and viewers know this or not, John Oliver’s words
are affecting their mindsets and overall impression of Donald Trump. This is the biggest effect of
most political comedy clips/skits: the hidden meaning and overall influence.

In a large contrast to the previous clip, this clip pokes fun at Donald Trump’s opponent from the
2020 presidential election: Joe Biden. This SNL (Saturday Night Live) clip from a month ago
shows what a message/press conference from Joe Biden would look like. SNL is different from
all other comedy shows because it comes from the perspective and viewpoint of the subject. For
example, the actors/actresses and comedians on SNL portray public figures that are usually in
the media light at the moment. In this clip, SNL writers make fun of Joe Biden’s simpleness, lack
of knowledge on certain things, his thoughts on COVID, and more.
SNL took a very easy approach in this clip by bringing the public’s view on Joe Biden to life.
Many people throughout the media and the public do not see Joe Biden as the smartest man
and think of him as older who is “not all the way there” mentally. SNL plays on this by
hyperbolizing the lack of knowledge Joe Biden’s character has. Of course, the real Joe Biden
does not actually blame the Spider Man movie for the spread of the Omicron variant.
I believe SNL, specifically this clip, over exaggerates certain things about political figures to
make the skits funnier, but this has a deeper effect on the audience than they first may think. As
SNL continues to make skits, poking fun at Joe Biden’s intelligence, it will continue to shift the
audience’s mindset and overall opinion on Joe Biden.

There are many news shows that are still considered comedic, but only surrounding specific
details of the news. In this clip from “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” he is reporting real
news, without really twisting the story at all. Instead, he pokes fun at little details within the news
stories. For example, in this clip Trevor Noah shows an interview with Joe Biden speaking over
a helicopter. Instead of making fun of Joe Biden or the topics mentioned, he chooses to make a
joke about Joe Biden speaking over the helicopter in the background. “They’re wasting fuel…
don’t [start it up] until he gets on.”
While this is still considered comedy, it is not aimed at anyone or anything specific; he tends to
pick the smallest, most random things in the news show to make fun of. Trevor Noah is still
reporting important news but presenting it in a way that lightens the overall mood. Of course,
Trevor Noah still has a specific point of view that he represents on his show, but compared to
the other two sources above, this is the most unbiased and serious so far.

Like the prior clip, this clip does not attack a specific political figure, but rather reports news
including funny jabs at specific groups of people. In this clip from a couple days ago, Stephen
Colbert announces that Black History Month is upon us. He makes a small joke about
Republicans not wanting this month to begin, then continues to discuss news on Black History
Month and American racism. Stephen Colbert takes a very sensitive and serious subject in
America and puts a lighter, funny spin on it. As the clip goes on, Colbert shows his political
views and opinions more as he pokes fun at the Republican party while only reporting the news
aspects of the Democratic party. This detail could be unnoticeable to the general audience at
times. Colbert does a very good job at disguising little jokes throughout this clip that are solely
aimed at the Republican party.
Colbert makes small jokes that are not specifically directed at the Republican party but tends to
touch upon specific details of the party. For example, the vocabulary used by the Republican
party, instead of their specific views. He presents a quote made by the Republican party of a
specific state that had the words “divisive subjects” describing teachers. Colbert did not directly
make fun of the political party; instead, he made a joke of connecting that quote to the
mathematical operation, division. Just like the other clips, this puts a lighter spin on a very
serious topic: teaching critical race theory in American schools.

There are some topics that have become political and debatable due to our media and internet
access. At the beginning of this clip, Jimmy Kimmel touches upon individuals protesting
mandates regarding face masks protecting people from COVID. As the two previous clips have
done, this clip makes fun of the little details of the news coverage. Instead of stating something
like, “this huge group of people will most likely get COVID and hurt their health,” he described
the protest with a group of people as, “Covid-cella” as a play on words of “Coachella.” In this
clip, Jimmy Kimmel shows his views in a way that Trevor Noah does: by reporting factual news
along with poking fun at smaller details of the story. For example, he showed a clip of the
speaker at the protest stating he is not a doctor. Jimmy Kimmel stopped the clip right there and
made a joke about where they found this guy. His opinions and political views are being shown
throughout this clip, but in much more subtle ways. Jimmy Kimmel does a great job at joking
about things that should be common sense in his mind (i.e. mask mandates).
Before this much access and input into the media, would health mandates even be up for
debate? While the media and talk shows are entertaining, they are also extremely powerful.
Every single person seems to have an opinion and a viewpoint on everything. While this may
seem like an issue, this is also what drives all the views, popularity, and money for these
comedy shows – their biggest topic of each show is politics.

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