SNL is the new CNN

It’s up to Saturday Night Live to decide who will be the Democratic nominee for the election 2008.

The role SNL takes on in the nomination process is an incredible example for the way political debates are being turned into entertainment in the U.S. at the moment. At the same time however, it’s an incredible example how political issues are permeating the entertainment sector, creating a new arena for public discourse. There simply is no retreat to hide from the debate over Hillary vs. Barack.

While the traditional news media is busy analysing the electability of Obama in key states and commenting on Hillary’s risk of being hurt by a badly timed remark from Bill, SNL is stealing the show. Here, questions are raised about the news media’s fascination for Barack Obama. Here, the 3am phone call ad is put into context. Here, the candidates can establish themselves as a real person with – shocking – a real personality.

In contrast, on CNN and its counterparts the candidates are treated as abstract entities. They are equations, composed of surveys, polls, demographics and, well, momentum. To the pundits it’s a horse race for the right formula to win over public opinion. They miss just one point; to the public it’s a highly engaging debate about the future of America. Thank god, the writer’s strike is history, or else there would be no place to get a richer spectrum of views and opinions on the candidates.

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. Nice blog, Kolya.

    But do you really think that SNL’s portrayal of the election established „a real personality“ for either candidate?

    At least from the Obama impersonation I definitely got the opposite impression. They wanted to make light of the fact that he was a blank slate, in the process they knocked several dimensions off his personality.

    Their take on Hillary seemed to be that she was immensely capable despite her endless triangulating. Again, despite the obvious triangulation, I don’t think much truth could be derived from their jest.

    To me, this generation of Saturday Night Live is pretty much the bottom of the political satire barrel (though the „black is the new, president, bitch“-response was classic.) The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, have rendered their cutesy, completely unsubtle circus act progressively irrelevant.

  2. The clips I was refering to are the real life appearances of Hillary and Obama. But you’re right, Colbert and Jon Stewart are wittier and have more elegance. I simply wanted to point out that political news analysis has left the domain of in the beltway shows as meet the press.

    colbert and stewart are just the tip of the iceberg. more discussion here, btw.