Ideologically Liberal and Formally Conservative: Satire, News, and Truthiness
This chapter analyzes the satirical performances of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, delving into the way their coverage of Iraq War created community through comedy. For a public grappling with “affect fatigue” and powerlessness in the face of wars they didn’t support, these shows opened a space for the public to feel—and yet, I argue that this space was ultimately conservative in nature. Satire skewers but also forecloses the possibility of meaningful action. Satire follows—it comes after events and comments on them—but it does not lead. Looking at language, images, and character in segments from both programs, this chapter posits that while these satiric performances were needed for public healing, they also stymied more active forms of intervention in war.