Satirists use humor, a caustic kind of wit,
With irony and ridicule all tyranny to hit.
For the mocking of a despot it’s a most effective way,
Which means it’s badly needed in America today.
Well, we’re in a good position, we have satirists galore -
Columnists, cartoonists, late night program hosts and more.
But they’re up against this problem as we watch our TV screens:
The reality is wilder than their craziest routines.
Certainly, they try. The Onion has Kim Jong Un offering to
host U.S. - Canadian peace talks; securing a $10 billion trade deal
to sell nuclear warheads to North Korea; and The New YorkTimes’
Andy Borowitz invents an international poll suggesting Trump's
travel ban was unnecessary because the U.S. is not among the top
one hundred countries anyone would want to visit.
The late night comedians competed to be the angriest in their anti- administrations routines. John Oliver blasted Attorney-General Jeff Sessions’ citing the Bible – Romans Eleven -- to justify separating parents and children at the border. Romans Eleven, he pointed out, “was regularly invoked in Civil War times by defenders of slavery.” Jimmy Fallon was still trying to live down an earlier interview during which he playfully mussed Trump’s hair. Since then he has furiously mocked Trump on a number of issues, and is pleased to have become one of Trump’s Tweet targets. And John Stewart sat in for Stephen Colbert to deliver an angry rebuttal to Trump’s blasts at Canada, the media, and John McCain. Trump’s immigration policies, he said, displayed “a Dickensian level of villainy.” Still, Trump could be brought down unless “the Democratic leadership continues to be a bunch of feckless…” (at which point Colbert rushed in to cut off reference to Samantha Bee’s “c-word”.)
But none of these come as close to matching the Trumpian reality than the cartoonists. Bill Plympton inaugurated a new web series aiming at closing the gap between the real and the absurd with short animated fantasies based on actual Trump audio clips. And Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury drew upon the new reality of ”deepfake video technology’, which can transfer a head onto a different body, thereby giving Trump “deniability”, in case Putin has “videotape of Trump in that Moscow hotel room.”
However, a chilling reminder of the new reality came from the the firing of Bob Rogers from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette after 25 years as the paper’s editorial cartoonist because his Trump cartoons were “too angry”. Fortunately, Rogers informs us, “I plan to be at my drawing table every day of this presidency. So will many other cartoonists, intent on defying Trump’s assessment of the media as an “enemy of the people.”