Monday, February 19, 2007

Half-Assed on the Half-Hour

This morning Renee Montagne plays the spokesperson for the Fox News Channel's new "comedy" show, The Half-Hour News Hour. Montagne says,
"The conservative alternative to Comedy Central’s left-of-center The Daily Show and The Colbert Report - which now dominates political satire on television - The Half-Hour News Hour debuted on the Fox News Channel last night. The Half-Hour right-of-center satire mixes political and entertainment news with conservative opinion. The show follows a format similar to that of The Daily Show:

[audio clip from the show] ‘Tonight’s top story: Dispelling reports that she would staff her White House with longtime cronies and political appointees, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton vowed that if she becomes President, she will surround herself with a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-generational group of angry lesbians.’

Fox News Channel paired up with the co-creator of the hit series 24 to get the pilot off the ground. The producer says the show is all about timing. Comedy Central’s The Daily Show hit it big during a time when the Republicans were a majority in the government, with Democrats dominating both the House and Senate, Fox says the time is right for a shift in satire to the right."
Montagne proves that she can read a Fox-sympathetic script, but what about even a little original analysis? The idea that the humor of The Daily Show and Colbert Report can be replicated from a "conservative" perspective shows how simple-minded NPR's take on politics is. What makes The Daily Show and Colbert Report work is not just satire from the "left-of-center," but the fact that they skewer the hypocrisy and stupidity of cable networks, politicians, and the powerful. And they don't just skewer it by mockery, but frequently through the substantive use of archival footage showing the target of their satire telling lies, making stupid remarks, and contradicting themselves. In other words their edgy humor comes from challenging power and ignorance, whereas Fox News (and the stars of conservative media like Coulter and Limbaugh) get their edge from celebrating power and ignorance (and bigotry and violence, etc). Notice that even in the offensive clip NPR offers, the attack on Hillary Clinton is based on homophobia, not on her political stands or actual statements.

The premise of NPR's sad little report on Fox's offering is that The Daily Show and Colbert Report are pro-Democrat, and that is "left-of-center" and therefore something right-of-center can be just as effective. This flawed thinking is not too surprising, given that NPR has some strange ideas about leftists (see earlier post).


Porter Melmoth said...

NPR's limp reference to 'The Half Hour News Hour' provided:

More evidence that Republicans are inherently unfunny.

More evidence that Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are primarily actors, not thinkers, and are reciters of scripts, not of ideas.

More evidence that the theory that Ann Coulter could be a transsexual might have something going for it (intrinsically no big deal, but the Republicans have a hard time admitting their hidden diversities).

More evidence that this effort, 'The Half Hour News Hour' will fade into obscurity fairly quickly.

Perhaps that's why NPR gave such a fleeting and distanced reference to this forgettable bit of broadcast time filler. That's fairness in broadcasting in action.

Jonathan Moore said...

I believe the Fox News show should have done politically incorrect comedy and thrown punches at both sides of the aisle, like It would been nice to have another comedy news show on TV but I am going to stick with Colbert Report and the Daily Show for now.