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September 22 2008

Media Over Reacts To Saturday Night Live Sketch

On the episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on September 20th, there was a sketch about the New York Times sending their writers to Alaska to sniff out as much as they can about Governor Palin.

Host James Franco is playing the assignments editor and pitching the assignment to his staff.  As they are going over possible angles, the following exchange happens:

Reporter: What about the husband? You know he’s doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It’s Alaska.
Assignments Editor: He very well could be. Admittedly, there is no evidence of that, but on the other hand, there is no convincing evidence to the contrary. And these are just some of the lingering questions about Governor Palin.

At the end of the sketch, the reporter that asked this question is shown on the cover of the New York Times with the headline “While No Direct Evidence of Incest in Palin Family Emerges, Counter Evidence Remains Agonizingly Elusive” and “In a Small Alaska Town, Doubts Still Linger.”  It seems that some people are taking great offense to this portion of the sketch, and it has made it on to Fox News.

The article goes on about how maybe this whole sketch was about how the staff of the paper is out of touch with anything west of the Hudson river, however the rest of the article goes on and on about how this is harkening back to the rumors earlier this month that Governor Palin is not the mother of her youngest son, Trig and so on.

If the sketch had only pointed out about things about politics, I would say they have a case, but the sketch really was just focused on how New Yorkers fear what they don’t understand, which was pretty much anything.

In the most damning moment of the sketch proving this was more about New Yorkers, and how out of touch with reality the paper was, the sketch was dated as events happening on Septmber 8th.  One writer was reluctant to go because he didn’t want to leave a story he was working on about Lehman Brothers facing potential financial problems.  He was informed by the editor that it could wait, Lehman Brothers would still be there when he got back.

This sketch was clearly about the the out of touch nature of the newspaper itself, and I felt it got the point across fairly well.  As for the Palin/incest joke, yes, this scenario has been floated by some bloggers, but that’s what SNL has been doing for 34 seasons and that’s touching on current events.  Palin is in the news, the paternity of Trig has been in the news, this makes the subject fair game to them.  If you don’t like it, well, I don’t know what to tell you except to not watch SNL.

Here is the part of the Fox News story that made me laugh out loud, though.  First off they use a very accusatory tone about how the video fo the sketch is not available on the NBC website.

Now, some bloggers are urging protests of the show be sent to producer Lorne Michaels. The video was not posted on the SNL Web site.

Well, I went and looked, and only five sketches were posted from this week’s episode.  Yes, the sketch in question is missing, but so was the one I actually thought was the funniest of the episode, “The Cougar’s Den” about older women obsessed with younger men.  Wow… NBC must have received protests from The Cougar Coalition to not post that sketch.

The article then had the following note tacked on the end:

Editor’s Note: When this story was originally published at 12:07 pm ET, the video was available on YouTube. It has since been removed and a notice posted that NBC Universal has issued a copyright claim. Many other SNL videos remain on YouTube.

Yes, it is true that the video was removed over a copyright notice, but so are dozens of other SNL videos removed in the same manner every day. Yes, there are some others on the site, but they honestly go up so fast, I doubt anyone could keep up with taking them down.  However, the way Fox News said it made me think back to the “Admittedly, there is no evidence of that, but on the other hand, there is no convincing evidence to the contrary.” line from the sketch.  There is no evidence this was removed due to pressure, it was just removed over the usual copyright issues.

I think everyone needs to just take a step back, take a deep breath and relax.  Remember, this is a comedy show, and SNL has a long history of picking on anyone and everything.  I will admit that in the first two episodes of this season there has not yet been an Obama sketch, but I think that is partially due to them lacking a strong Obama impersonator.  They attempted using Fred Armissan last season, and, well, to be honest, he sucked.  I am sure his turn is coming.

There are so many bigger issues in this election, why get worked up over a joke on a sketch comedy show known for pushing boundaries?  It’s beyond me.



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  • Jo

    Ah they’d never do that to Obama and his mother ever. I see your side of it and agree it does paint more about an out of touch East coast to middle America, but since the MSM has been accusing and questioning the parentage of Trig from the beginning, I can also appreciate the feelings about that part of the skit. Obama is off limits to that kind of hit piece because he’s black and they don’t want to be accused of being racist like republicans are being called because we aren’t voting for him. But your thoughts on it did give me a new way to look at it. Thank you for that.

  • Jo – I think it all comes down to perspectives. As you know from eons of reading my blog, I am highly critical of the media, so I probably saw the journalism aspect of the sketch first before anything else.

    That being said… they need an Obama sketch pronto or else they are going to look horribly skewed and show an obvious bias. I want SNL to be equally offensive, dammit!

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