Feature

How satire altered the election

&ldquo;Right-wing talk radio has finally met its match,&rsquo;&rsquo; said former <em>National</em> <em>Lampoon</em> editor Steve Young. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s satire.&rsquo;&rsquo;

Steve YoungThe Philadelphia Inquirer

“Right-wing talk radio has finally met its match,’’ said former National Lampoon editor Steve Young. “It’s satire.’’ Young leftists have used satire to mock establishment hypocrisies since the 1960s, but their audience, until recently, was mostly themselves. Left-wing satire’s effect on elections was “nil.’’ But the Web and YouTube changed all that. Now Tina Fey’s hilarious—and devastating—impersonation of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live is no longer limited to that show’s young, hip audience. It’s being seen over and over, day after day, on YouTube in millions of offices and homes. The same holds true for the “king has no clothes’’ humor from Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and David Letterman; when they portray Palin as a phony, inarticulate populist, or McCain as bumbling and desperate, these images spread through the populace like a virus. And images have a powerful effect on people’s perceptions. If McCain and Palin lose the election, pundits will blame the economic meltdown, or her muddled responses to Katie Couric’s questions. But the biggest factor may be Tina Fey.

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