Is political satire to blame for dumbing down politics and increasing apathy?
That question served as the premise for Sunday's episode of "Meet The Press," wherein host Chuck Todd asked a panel of comedians to discuss the merits of programs like "The Daily Show" and "Last Week Tonight." The program was at least partially in response to a December Salon article accusing "The Daily Show" of inspiring "glib cynicism more than outrage or understanding."
"You could say we’re somehow dumbing down something that’s been dumbed down during the course of my life," said "Daily Show" contributor Lewis Black, opening the discussion. "That … it would be possible for us to even take it further is beyond belief."
Black largely defended political comedy and instead pointed a finger at social media and 24-hour cable news, a place where "you watch people [saying the same things] over and over and over again, and by the third time ... you're laughing at them."
Another panelist, comedian W. Kamau Bell, argued political satire doesn’t feed cynicism. “Have you been on twitter lately? Have you been on Facebook?”
“The cynicism is [already] there," he said. "If anything, 'The Daily Show' gives you hope. You feel like, ‘Oh, I can laugh my way through this.’"
"Comedy gets to bark,” Bell continued. “But the weird thing is Fox News also gets to bark. Sometimes the left-learning media is afraid of barking. So they play a clip of The Daily Show."
WATCH the full "Meet The Press" segment, above.