How Comedy Affected the Ethos of the Candidates in the 2008 and 2012 United States Presidential Elections




McCutcheon, Adam

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In a 2008 online interview with CNN, comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Chevy Chase admitted that his buffoonish characterization of President Gerald Ford was motivated by his desire to remove the Republican from office. As one of the stars of this program, Chase understood the power that its brand of comedy had on its viewers, and he played up his characterization out of personal political motivations. At the time, Chase speculated that Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin during the 2008 United States presidential election was motivated by the same desire to block her and presidential nominee John McCain from office. My thesis will look at the influence that these “soft news” programs such as Saturday Night Live have on its viewers, and through a rhetorical analysis will then look two popular online websites, The Onion and Someecards, and interpret the motivations behind these two websites comedic output in the month leading up to the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. The results indicate that there is a tremendous bias in favor of the Democratic party, and the Republican party is at a clear disadvantage in winning the favor of millions of potential voters who frequently visit these websites.



Ethos, Pentad, Election, Comedy, Dramatism, Politics