Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC. As she walked onstage the pathetically unfunny comedy show – Fallon is so horrifically unfunny that he uncomfortably laughs at his own jokes onstage – the house band, The Roots, played “Lyin’ Ass Bitch.” Bachmann didn’t catch it. The Media Research Center and John Nolte at Big Hollywood did. And it’s reprehensible.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, a member of the band (his moniker was likely garnered when his parents watched Dragon Quest and Love Story back to back), released a statement: “The performance was a tongue-in-cheek and spur of the moment decision. The show was not aware of it and I feel bad if her feelings were hurt. That was not my intention.”
Seriously? Not his intention? Of course that was his intention. Would he have played that song for Michelle Obama, who received scads of media sympathy when she was booed at a NASCAR event? Or Hillary Clinton, who, if anyone, could accurately be labeled “lyin’ ass”? Or how about Janet Napolitano, who spent this week using the Department of Homeland Security to warn Americans of the evils of turkey frying?
But those women are Democrats. Bachmann is a Republican, and therefore cannon fodder for the idiotic musician, who has spent his life hanging out with racist Nation of Islam colleagues and tweeting idiocies like this one, in the aftermath of the killing of Osama Bin Laden: “I hope those rejoicing can hear O’s words that to engage in anti Islam/Muslim rhetoric is missing the point.” Questlove, by the way, affixes to his Twitter account a photoshopped picture of himself standing next to Obama.
Jimmy Fallon apologized on Twitter for the debacle, stating, “I’m honored that @MicheleBachmann was on our show yesterday and I’m so sorry about the intro mess. I really hope she comes back.” He could ensure she comes back by canning this Questlove character. But he won’t do that, lest he be seen as racist. In the television world, it’s one thing to let a musician belittle a major American female politician in a blatantly sexist way. It’s another thing to fire a black guy for doing the belittling.
But this is how it works in the world of late night. The last election cycle saw the late night hosts go into overdrive for the Obama election campaign. Between January 1, 2008 and July 31, 2008, the Center for Media and Public Affairs found that Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and David Letterman made a grand total of 169 jokes about Obama, compared with 428 about Bush and 328 about McCain. Comedy Central comedians were more even – Colbert made 129 jokes about McCain to 91 for Obama, and Stewart made more jokes about Obama than McCain, although the vast majority of jokes about Obama were fawning compliments and the vast majority about McCain were brutal slams.
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