Funny Politics

1430 Words6 Pages
In A Theory of Media Politics John Zaller sets out to explain the roles of three key actors, politicians, journalists, and citizens, in mass political communication.1 And when considering the characteristics of each actor I believe there has been the emergence of a fourth actor in media politics which developed as a natural outgrowth of the demands place on journalists by politicians and citizens as identified by Zaller. Additionally, Gilens, Vavreck, and Cohen's article “The Mass Media and the Public's Assessment of Presidential Candidates, 1952-2000”2 provides a basis for considering the impact political messages delivered through non-news outlets may have on the political communication process. On March 11, 2014 President Barack Obama made an appearance on the internet comedy show, “Between Two Ferns”, hosted by stand-up comedian and actor Zach Galifinakas. The President's appearance received predictable reactions from conservative and liberal media commentators; conservative voices criticized the appearance as “less presidential than Richard Nixon saying ‘Sock it to me’ on ‘Laugh In.”3 While liberal commentators found the appearance, and its negative reception by conservatives, as funny.4 And although this was not the first time a President or presidential candidate has appeared on an entertainment show, this suggests that President Obama's appearance on “Between Two Ferns” may be seen as a continued and increasing shift away from journalists as an intermediary for mass communication, and into a new realm that solidifies the importance of a new group in media politics – Entertainers. But in order to understand why the Presidents appearance on this particular show is significant it may be necessary to consider the historical... ... middle of paper ... ...ts appear to be under more pressure than ever to provide the kinds of entertainment the public demands in order to increase ratings, while also trying to retain a unique voice. But in doing so it seems our news, along with other forms of media, is becoming hyper-tailored to niche markets. The public may enjoy some degree of conflict and information but it seems that the conflict and information they want is not true conflict or accurate information. Rather, what they desire is information that avoids even moderate levels of cognitive dissonance, and manufactured conflict, which just seem like another form of entertainment. And Joe McGuinness was half way there when in 2010 he said “It has all become entertainment,” because when add the “why” question to his statement you realize that politicians are only delivering what we want; and we just want to be entertained.
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