Trump Likely to Be Most Mocked President by Late Night, Study Finds
The president has been the target of some 1,060 late-night jokes since taking office, The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University calculated, putting him on pace to beat President Bill Clinton's record of 1,717 jokes in 1998.
Stephen Colbert, whose crude reference to Donald Trump angered some of the president's supporters this week, has lobbed zingers at him at the blistering pace of 3.37 a day during the chief executive's first 100 days in office.
Trump is on pace to be the most joked-about president in late-night television in at least 25 years, The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University said Thursday.
Colbert, on his show Wednesday, discussed the fallout from a Trump joke he made two days earlier that prompted calls to fire him and boycott the CBS Late Show advertisers. He said he didn't regret insulting the president, but that he "would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be."
He made a reference to the male anatomy when he said of Trump Monday: "The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster."
Colbert said he was upset at Trump for insulting CBS Face the Nation host John Dickerson.
It was one of 337 Trump jokes that Colbert has made since the president's inauguration in January, said the study. Trevor Noah of Comedy Central's The Daily Show made 315 Trump jokes in the same period of time, NBC's Jimmy Fallon unleashed 231 and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel 177.
The Trump-battering has paid off handsomely for Colbert and CBS. The Late Show eclipsed Fallon's Tonight Show in the ratings shortly after Trump's inauguration and has now won for 13 weeks straight. Last week, CBS averaged 2.74 million viewers to Fallon's 2.68 million, said the Nielsen Company.
Nielsen's preliminary ratings from the nation's top markets indicate that Colbert's show Wednesday night slightly exceeded the previous Wednesday — indicating no immediate fallout from the Putin joke.
"The polarization of politics has migrated into the polarization of late-night humor," said Samuel Robert Lichter, the George Mason professor who directs the comedy-content research. "People want to hear jokes about the politicians they don't like."
That in itself turns some conventional wisdom on its head: For years, many late-night comics made it a point to be equal-opportunity abusers for fear of turning off one side or another, he said.
Trump has been the target of some 1,060 late-night jokes since taking office, said the study. That puts him on pace to beat President Bill Clinton's record of 1,717 jokes in 1998, the year his affair with Monica Lewinsky was in the news, said Lichter.
Colbert, for his part, isn't taking any pity on the president.
"He, I believe, can take care of himself," Colbert said Wednesday. "I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So it's a fair fight."