Presumptive nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are neck-to-neck in recent polls, but among late-night comics, there’s a clear winner.
A George Mason University study says four of the major late-night comedy shows on national television preferred Trump more than 3-to-1 as the subject of their jokes, InsideSources reported.
The study, conducted by the university’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, surveyed the flagship late-night shows of NBC, CBS, ABC and Comedy Central from September 2015 to April 2016 and found that the show’s four hosts — Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Trevor Noah — told 1,105 jokes about Trump compared to 315 about Clinton.
Several of Trump’s controversial and off-the-cuff comments have inspired riffs on the silver screen, including a rant from Daily Show alum John Oliver on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” but the center’s director Robert Lichter said Clinton has borne the brunt of several jokes in recent weeks because of her email scandal.
“The gloves came off on Trump long ago,” Lichter told InsideSources. “Now you have [Clinton] with a scandal, and the jokes get nastier.”
Clinton had been under FBI investigation over the security and storage of her emails while Secretary of State, though the agency eventually recommended no charges be filed. In a press conference about the findings, FBI director James Comey still slammed Clinton’s handling of her classified emails as “extremely careless” and irresponsible, which Lichter said could make Clinton vulnerable to jokes about her perceived dishonesty.
“If she starts to fit the image of the political insider who thinks she can get away with things, there will be a lot of jokes around that,” he said to Inside Sources.
Lichter’s study, which has not yet been published, shows that both candidates are also treated more negatively than the man they hope to succeed. He theorized that the president’s academic reputation and reserved personality might insulate him from more jokes than other politicians.
“Obama had by far the best treatment by late-night comics of any presidential candidate we’ve examined going back to 1992 — and that’s quantifiable,” Lichter said.