In a world of alternative facts, the time has come to turn to alternative media.
No, I’m not talking about obscure online outlets whose articles often crop up on a relative’s Facebook feed. I’m talking about comedians.
Saturday night, Washington D.C. played host to the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, which President Donald Trump did not attend. Hasaan Minaj, a correspondent for “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, took on the role of comedic host. With most of Trump’s administration absent, Minaj pulled no punches.
“It is 2017, and we are living in the Golden Age of lying,” Minaj said. “Now is the time to be a liar and Donald Trump is the liar-in-chief.”
Minaj wasted little time getting to his roast of the president, calling out everything from Trump’s skin color to his lackluster first 100 days. However, midway through his speech, Minaj’s message took a turn.
“Every time a USA Today slides underneath my door, it’s like they’re saying ‘Hey, you’re not that smart, right?’” Minaj said.
That line began a tirade on tradition- al news media, particularly cable news. Minaj went after MSNBC and their insistence that the Trump administration is riddled with conspiracies.
He took to CNN and how Jeff Zucker has turned a trusted news network into a hybrid between a gladiator battle and a reality TV show. And of course, Minaj also roasted Fox News’s recent trouble with sexual assault.
Minaj is just part of a new wave of truth-tellers. Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Seth Meyers and Samantha Bee have done something interesting with their respective late-night talk shows. They have become more bluntly truthful than any other media outlet.
Bee put on her own politically-driven event Saturday, hosting the “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner” on TBS, where she delivered a scathing monologue directed at traditional media.
Bee asked the audience why so many people distrust the news before giving her answer.
“Maybe it’s because when they turn on the TV looking for news, all they can find are journalists trying to referee a pack of well- quaffed message robots shouting at each other all day from increasingly tiny boxes,” she said.
She later went after CNN and Zucker, in a similar fashion as Minaj, bringing up an interview Zucker gave with the New York Times.
“The idea that politics is sport is undeniable,” Zucker said.
Zucker’s statement illustrates just why cable news is failing America. Discussions turn into debates. Debates turn into arguments. Nothing is ever resolved.
That is why comedians have become trustworthy. They are not blinded by creating spectacle. They thrive on accountability.
Jon Stewart, former host of “The Daily Show,” brought this idea into the spotlight. Stewart built a career on calling out the lies and debauchery of politics, and his fellow comedians continue to do the same.
People like Colbert often tell people to get their news from other sources, and to get a flavor of commentary from the comedians. But, with the increasing levels of entertain- ment masking the cold, hard truth, there are not many alternatives left.
Brandon Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @brandonmtnhill