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Barack The Entertainer

Howie Kurtz has a piece in today's Post about how daytime and late-night TV shows have tilted toward Obama. No shock there, I suppose, but I was sort of puzzled by this graf:

Ellen DeGeneres, David Letterman and panelists on "The View" all confronted McCain, while Obama has basically joked and danced his way through such appearances, including a "Daily Show" stint last week in which Jon Stewart asked him about "the whole socialism/Marxist thing." If anyone doubts there is a liberal entertainment establishment, it has been vividly on display.

So Kurtz thinks Stewart was demonstrating liberal bias by not really, truly pressing Obama on whether he's a socialist/Marxist? I really hope this isn't what Kurtz has in mind when he thinks about objective news coverage.

Look, I don't disagree with Kurtz that there is a liberal entertainment establishment--there is--but I don't think that completely explains why Obama and McCain have been treated differently by the daytime and late-night talkers during this cycle.

For one thing, there's timing (as Kurtz concedes later in the article): McCain's rough appearance on "The View" occurred after the conventions, when the campaign was heating up; he was treated with kid gloves when he appeared on the show in the spring, as was Obama (who, unlike McCain, didn't go on the show after the conventions).

More significantly, there's the material both campaigns have given these entertainers to work with. Frankly, McCain's campaign--erratic as it's been--has been a helluva lot more mockable than Obama's extremely disciplined, relatively error-free operation (which would explain why McCain is the more frequent butt of late-night jokes).

And then there's been the tenor of McCain's campaign. When he had his bones picked clean on "The View," as Cindy McCain later put it, his campaign had just released a couple of outrageous attack ads on Obama--which the hosts called him on. The same goes for the whole socialism/Marxist thing that's been emanating from the McCain camp, which is just made to be mocked. To be sure, Obama's made some unfair attacks on McCain, too; but they haven't been as obviously ridiculous as McCain's. Hence they haven't been ridiculed to the same extent.

--Jason Zengerle