A study released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University found that since the parties’ national conventions this summer, comedians on late-night shows have made 148 jokes about the Republican presidential candidate, more than twice the amount they made about Obama (62) and more than jokes about all of the Democratic contenders combined. The center analyzed all of the opening monologues for the highest-rated hosts — Jimmy Fallon (Late Night), Jay Leno (The Tonight Show), Craig Ferguson (The Late Late Show) and David Letterman (The Late Show) — on the broadcast networks between Aug. 27 and Oct. 3 to obtain its results.
“Romney is leading in the humor race, but being the biggest joke is a race nobody wants to win,” CMPA President Dr. Robert Lichter said.
Late-show hosts are also poking more fun at Romney’s GOP mates. The CMPA analysis discovered that comics made 290 jokes about Republicans compared to 138 jokes about Democrats. But these results hardly differ from those found in the last CMPA study. In the 2008 election, John McCain, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush topped the list of comedians’ most-targeted politicians, with 658, 566 and 244 jokes, respectively. Obama ranked fourth with 243 jokes.
Although all of the comedians told more gags about Romney, the most gleeful was David Letterman, who made 44 jokes about the GOP contender versus just nine jokes about Obama. This finding could fuel the ongoing Romney-Letterman dispute, which started in mid-September after the infamous “47%” clip leaked. When asked in the video about why he doesn’t make more TV appearances, Romney claimed that Letterman disliked him because he has appeared on Jay Leno’s show more often.
“I’ve been on Letterman a couple of times, I’ve been on Leno more than a couple of times,” Romney said in the video. “And now Letterman hates me because I’ve been on Leno more than him. They’re very jealous of one another, as you know.”
Letterman responded by denying Romney’s claims, praising the candidate for being a “wonderful guest” in the past and inviting him twice on consecutive nights to appear on his show.
“Well, that’s absolutely, the man is delusional if he thinks, honest to God, if he thinks I hate him,” Letterman said during his Sept. 20 show, claiming he has extended more than 100 invitations to Romney. “Let me ask you something, Mitt. If we hated you, why do we keep begging you to be on the show?”
Romney also has a beef with other late-night programming. In the same video, he told donors that he doesn’t want to appear on Saturday Night Live for fear of seeming unprofessional.
“I was asked to go on Saturday Night Live. I did not do that in part because you want to show that you’re fun and you’re a good person, but you also want to be presidential,” he said. “And Saturday Night Live has the potential of looking slapstick and not presidential.”