Dagnes (Political Science/Shippensburg Univ.; Politics On Demand: The Effects of 24-Hour News on American Politics, 2010, etc.) investigates the relation among politics, bias and satire.
In this well-documented study, the author seeks to defend contemporary liberal satirists and promoters of satire in the entertainment business from conservative charges of bias. Dagnes examines such programs as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live, which contain jokes and sketches that have often been featured in the national political discussion. Perfect examples include SNL's treatment of Sarah Palin and Stephen Colbert's recent presidential campaign. Dagnes also discusses particular comedians, their writers and raw material, and she provides a wealth of helpful references, including personal interviews, literary sources, and TV performances. The author employs the evenhandedness of an academic sociological analysis, and she focuses mainly on the well-accepted, and –studied, divisions between liberals and conservatives. She considers the difficulties that conservatives have faced in the world of comedy and satire, citing as one piece of evidence the failure of Fox News' The 1/2 Hour News Hour. Rather that outright bias, the author finds differences that can be attributed to outlook, culture, education and audience. She doesn’t examine the comedy of specific politicians—e.g., Ronald Reagan, whose jokes were funny and sharp—and she considers the history of satire but not the social safety-valve function of the genre.
The author achieves her objective, but the price of her success is a book that will have greater appeal to specialists than to general readers.