New York Times columnist Ross Douthat begins his must-read piece on the politicization of comedy with the outrage over Jimmy Fallon's mussing Donald Trump's hair–Fallon treated Trump as if he weren't a monster who is beyond the pale. The reaction speaks to the colonization of comedy by the left:
On late-night television, it was once understood that David Letterman was beloved by coastal liberals and Jay Leno more of a Middle American taste. But neither man was prone to delivering hectoring monologues in the style of the “Daily Show” alums who now dominate late night. Fallon’s apolitical shtick increasingly makes him an outlier among his peers, many of whom are less comics than propagandists — liberal “explanatory journalists” with laugh lines.
Some of them have better lines than others, and some joke more or hector less. But to flip from Stephen Colbert’s winsome liberalism to Seth Meyers’s class-clown liberalism to Bee’s bluestocking feminism to John Oliver’s and Trevor Noah’s lectures on American benightedness is to enter an echo chamber from which the imagination struggles to escape.
It isn’t just late-night TV. Cultural arenas and institutions that were always liberal are being prodded or dragged further to the left. Awards shows are being pushed to shed their genteel limousine liberalism and embrace the race-gender-sexual identity agenda in full. Colleges and universities are increasingly acting as indoctrinators for that same agenda, shifting their already-lefty consensus under activist pressure.
Formerly apolitical parts of our culture are now outposts of the progressive movements. As Douthat points out, with Colin Kaepernick even the once macho NFL is having a "Black Lives Matter Moment." This gives rise to a thoughtless, knee jerk approach to issues and politics:
First, within the liberal tent, they have dramatically raised expectations for just how far left our politics can move, while insulating many liberals from the harsh realities of political disagreement in a sprawling, 300-plus million person republic. Among millennials, especially, there’s a growing constituency for whom right-wing ideas are so alien or triggering, left-wing orthodoxy so pervasive and unquestioned, that supporting a candidate like Hillary Clinton looks like a needless form of compromise.
I tend to think that this means that Mrs. Clinton has an overwhelming advantage. It has nothing to do with issues: even in the quiet of the voting booth, there just aren't enough people who want to be secret pariahs and vote for a guy so loathed by the taste makers that he is a punch line at the Emmys.
Douthat sees it differently, proposing that there is often a protest vote to the left's cultural dominance:
Something like this happened once before: In the 1960s and 1970s, the culture shifted decisively leftward, but American voters shifted to the right and answered a cultural revolution with a political Thermidor.
Thermidor was Nixon and Reagan:
That Nixon-Reagan rightward shift did not repeal the 1960s or push the counterculture back to a beatnik-hippie fringe. But it did leave liberalism in a curious place throughout the 1980s: atop the commanding heights of culture yet often impotent in Washington, D.C.
Time magazine also recently dealt with the politicization of late night, but Time blamed it on Trump's awfulness.