Opinion: Nobody’s laughing at Hillary anymore (or Rudy)

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Hollywood writers and behind-the-scenes production staff may be suffering as the Writers Guild of America strike rounds out its fourth week, but there appears to be one beneficiary of the labor stoppage: New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

With the late-night talk shows forced into hiatus, the Democratic presidential candidate has been spared fresh swipes from the likes of Jay Leno and David Letterman. (Although, with their programs in reruns, viewers are getting plenty of opportunities to sample their old material.)

Clinton has been the top target of the late-night comedians among the White House hopefuls, spawning nearly as many jokes so far this year as all her Democratic rivals combined, according to a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.


Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, the New York senator was the butt of 186 jokes cracked by NBC’s Leno and Conan O’Brien, CBS’ Letterman and Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. (The study examined just the hosts’ monologues, not the entire show.) The rest of the Democratic contenders were joked about a combined total of 197 times, with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama drawing 56 cracks, the second-largest number.

Most of the jokes about Clinton centered on her gender and portrayed her as cold and....

unattractive, including 29 swipes about her taste in clothes and 21 cracks about her marital difficulties, according to CMPA, a Washington, D.C.-based media watchdog group that analyzes political media.

Some examples offered by CMPA:

“Hillary is dressing sexier and sexier. Yesterday she was seen shopping at Victoria’s Pantsuit.” -Letterman “Sen. Clinton said that as president she would bring the troops home. The troops? She can’t even get Bill to come home.” – Leno

Altogether, the Democrats drew 383 jokes by the late-night hosts, compared with 312 about the Republicans. In the GOP field, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani triggered the most swipes, with 72, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was made fun of 68 times.

Only Clinton and Giuliani managed to crack the list of the top 10 most frequently mocked public figures this year. In first place: George W. Bush, who drew 826 jokes. He was followed by Paris Hilton with 258 and Vice President Dick Cheney with 197.

The total breakdown of late-night jokes this year on some of the 2008 presidential candidates:

  • Hillary Clinton: 186
  • Rudy Giuliani: 72
  • Mitt Romney: 68
  • Barack Obama: 56
  • John McCain: 54
  • John Edwards: 43
  • Dennis Kucinich: 34
  • Mike Huckabee: 27
  • Joe Biden: 26
  • Fred Thompson: 24

(UPDATE: The rest of the list is as follows:

Tommy Thompson: 23

Tom Tancredo: 16

Chris Dodd: 16

Tom Vilsack: 14

Sam Brownback: 14

Bill Richardson: 8

Ron Paul: 6

Jim Gilmore: 5

Duncan Hunter: 3

Mike Gravel: 1

--Matea Gold

The above item is also posted on The Times’ Show Tracker blog: