Newspapers Use Puns to Report SNL Skit

As Poynter Online notes, some newspapers and other media outlets used blindness puns to report the fallout (at least from New York Governor David Patterson’s office) about the Saturday Night Live skit Saturday poking fun of his blindness.

Patterson–in the skit–blundered around looking for a successor for Hillary Clinton’s seat. Risa Heller, the governor’s communications director called the skit offensive. Newspapers then reported the story with such headlines as GOVERNOR DIDN’T SEE THE HUMOR and BLINDING MAD GOV. PATTERSON RIPS SNL FOR SKIT.

Obviously, the skit was a parody and intended as political humor. It’s protected speech, offensive or not, and seems no more offensive to me than the endless barage of purported humor–much of which comes from politicians and not comedy shows– and stereotyping aimed at Republicans.

Personally, I think Heller erred in calling greater attention to the skit, especially by using the rather lame “it’s offensive” charge.

What bothers me is not the skit but the newspaper reporting. As tempting as it might be to use blindness puns, the reporting of this story is supposed to be objective. Conservative readers might note that when they’re portrayed as hunters, rural, Southern, etc., their claims that they are being stereotyped seldom make the front page–or any page. On the other hand, perhaps they’re lucky since the headlines might just make it worse.

In the old days, journalists were taught to leave their opinions at the door. In the Patterson matter, their job is to report the fact that SNL angered the governor, not make additional jokes at the governor’s expense. This is not objective reporting. It’s, as they say, “high school.”

3 thoughts on “Newspapers Use Puns to Report SNL Skit

  1. I certainly agree! I’m afraid that few of today’s crop of journalists ever got as far as the course in objectivity (and it looks as though they failed a few other courses along the way as well). It’s extremely difficult to find objective, well written pieces on much of anything any more.

    I stumbled upon a small online newspaper for the Indian tribes of the Flathead Reservation a while back and have been quite impressed with the objectivity and quality of the stories they put up. They only update about once a week, but I always look forward to reading their stuff even though little actually has much to do with my immediate interests. Just good to see it!

  2. Gov. Patterson is legally blind. Gov Blagojevich has a big head of hair. President Elect has big ears. Sarah Palin says stupid things. Hillary Clinton wears Pantsuits. Bill Clintion ate at McDonalds and cheated on his wife. Gerald Ford tripped. SNL does what all great comedy does, it exaggerates characteristics and qualities of politicians to provide us all some comical relief.

  3. Montucky: It’s nice finding newspapers that are trying to do it right. I’ll be looking for that paper from the Flathead Reservation.

    4wrdthnkdad: SNL has a history of doing this kind of comedy; like political cartoonists, it exaggerates–in a very humorous way–a person’s characteristics as you say. We need the comic relief.


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