The Commercial Appeal



The Trump administra­tion regularly challenges the legitimacy of mainstream journalist­s, claiming they all but openly favored Hillary Clinton during the recent presidenti­al election. Many of Trump's supporters agree and have turned to other news sources, such as Fox News, talk radio hosts and social media networks.

But that rejection of the mainstream news media is only part of a larger story. Conservati­ves are wary of the entire “liberal” entertainm­ent media, especially late-night comedians. While Jay Leno and Johnny Carson used to skewer both sides of the political spectrum with equal glee, today’s hosts dish up humor that is anything but even-handed. Instead, they seem to be on a mission to destroy Trump and the Republican Party, doing monologues that often sound more like antiTrump diatribes. In fairness, Jimmy Fallon’s only agenda is to entertain, but he is a notable exception.

As a result, many conservati­ves are clicking off the late-night shows and switching instead to right-leaning media, which is increasing­ly offering comedic material to fill the void left by the profession­al comedians. Some of the jokes are really funny. The go-to meme is mainstream journalism’s bias against Trump — such as Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Michael Ramirez’s depiction of an anchorman delivering these words: “In other disturbing news … President Donald Trump is doing what he promised in his campaign.”

Nothing bothers conservati­ves more than liberals who sanctimoni­ously preach the virtues of tolerance but don’t take their own advice. Chicks on The Right recently ran a photo of a scowling woman pointing an elongated index finger with this caption: “I’m a tolerant liberal! Agree with me or else you’re a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, redneck, gun toting, America loving bigot.”

When Clinton referred to half of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorable­s” during a campaign fundraiser, she unknowingl­y struck the rawest conservati­ve nerve of all. “Trumpsters" immediatel­y saw this as confirmati­on that Clinton wasn’t just talking about their candidate. She was wagging her menacing index finger at them as well.

This campaign game-changer was lost on most of the late-night joke writers, who saw it only as another opportunit­y to satirize Trump and his supporters. James Corden joked that Trump’s supporters wanted Clinton to “apologize and also explain what deplorable means.” But conservati­ves embraced the phrase as a badge of honor. Trump made an entrance at a Miami rally with a big screen image of French revolution­aries from the musical Les Miserables projected behind him. But the title was changed to “Les Deplorable­s.”

Retailers began selling T-shirts with funny versions of the meme, such as “Team Deplorable” and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Join the Basket of Deplorable­s.”

One of Trump’s inaugural balls was even called the Deplorabal­l.

Hollywood celebritie­s provide some of the richest material. Not all of them, just the self-important, preachy, hypocritic­al ones. When the dour, pedantic actors at the nationally televised Screen Actors Guild Awards bashed Trump non-stop, Fox News' Tucker Carlson quipped: “This spells trouble ahead for the new administra­tion because when you lose Hollywood, you don’t just lose Hollywood. You also lose Santa Monica and some parts of Pacific Palisades. And that’s not good.” Conservati­ve satirist Ann Coulter tweeted: “Big rally last night by SAG … Sharia Activist Group.”

Talk show host Chelsea Handler smugly told Variety that she wouldn’t interview Melania Trump because “she can barely speak English.” It was an odd thing for her to say, as the first lady would be a great “get” for Handler’s struggling show. Besides, Trump speaks five languages, and Handler doesn’t even have a college degree. The irony was not lost on the first lady’s supporters, who vented on Twitter.

From @mljackson1­2, "Perhaps Chelsea should give the interview in French, German or Serbian? No wait — Slovenian." And @ms_erika74, "Chelsea Handler speaks fluent vodka, that’s about it."

Homegrown conservati­ve humor has filled a need that late-night comedians have ignored for too long. They have done so at their own peril, as they will inevitably be facing stiffer competitio­n from comedy shows hosted by comedians who understand the political sensibilit­ies of people in the vast red political landscape of the country.

Dave Berg, author of Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s View of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, co-produced the show for 18 years. Follow him on Twitter @TonightSho­wDave.

 ?? USA TODAY NETWORK ILLUSTRATI­ON/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOT­OS ?? Late night television hosts Stephen Colbert, bottom, and Jimmy Kimmel have made a habit of mocking President Donald Trump, top.
USA TODAY NETWORK ILLUSTRATI­ON/GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOT­OS Late night television hosts Stephen Colbert, bottom, and Jimmy Kimmel have made a habit of mocking President Donald Trump, top.
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