Published June 19, 2012
Same script, different show, another night.
The hottest trend among comedic talk show hosts in recent months has revolved around bashing Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, his personal wealth, and his ranking in the “one percent.”
But have these famous television “comedians” forgotten that they too are far from belonging to the “99 percent” when it comes to monetary earnings?
“Mitt Romney just barely won the Republican primary in Ohio by one percent. Then Romney made the mistake of saying, ‘ladies and gentleman, tonight is a victory for the one percent!” Conan O’Brien, who is received a $45 million exit deal from NBC in 2010 and has an estimated net worth of $75 million, exclaimed.
Jay Leno, who reportedly makes $32 million a year from his “Tonight Show” gig alone, and is reported to have a net worth of around $150 million, frequently incorporate Romney-related rich jokes into his late night program.
“CNBC is reporting that America lost 129,000 millionaires last year. Or as Mitt Romney calls them, ‘an endangered species we have to protect,” Leno said, and on another occasion stated: “Mitt Romney says he understands the middle class, and that he knows it’s not easy keeping a roof over your family’s heads – as well as vacation roots in San Diego, New Hampshire, and Park City, Utah.”
The Daily Caller pointed out that Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who also has a prominent place on the rich Romney-jibing bandwagon and exploded over his “almost $57,000 a day” income level, makes more than 300 times the median American salary, owns three luxury homes and has been known not to pay his taxes occasion.
“How in the world do you, Mitt Romney, justify making more in one day than the median American family makes in a year – while paying the same tax rate as the guy who scans shoes at the airport?” Stewart gasped.
The political publication went on to highlight that his net worth stands at an assumed $80 million, bringing he and his wife Tracey to an estimated $41,000 a day and observed that he is well on his way to being more affluent than the GOP nominee when he reaches his age.
Fellow Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert has also unleashed plenty of zingers over the past few months – drawing attention to the candidate’s controversial joke about his father closing a Michigan factory.
“It’s like he’s on the Blue Collar tour, if the comedy was about losing blue collar jobs,” Colbert , who’s own net worth has been listed at $45 million, retorted.
David Letterman, who is reported to have earned $45 million with an overall net worth upwards of $400 million relishes Romney’s riches for ratings too, having made such jokes as “last month Mitt Romney raised $76 million. He found it in an old sport-coat pocket.”
Jimmy Fallon, worth about $16 million, also mocked: “A new survey found that Mitt Romney is ahead of Obama among those who make $36,000-$90,000. Or as Romney put it, ‘And they said I can’t connect with the poor.’’
Then there HBO commentator Bill Maher, who told his audience: “Mitt Romney was sitting down with some unemployed workers the other day. Mitt is worth a quarter of a billion dollars, and he said, ‘Hey, I’m unemployed too.’ That is the famous Mormon sense of humor. A little tip Mitt, your people are only funny when the ‘South Park’ guys write your jokes.” Mind you, Maher’s monetary value is approximately $23 million.
But is the rich making fun of other public figures for being rich – hypocritical? Is it at least a little self-righteous for these talk show hosts to constantly satirize Romney’s wealth when they too certainly don’t belong in the ranks of the “99 percent.”
“It’s hypocritical to mock Romney’s wealth when you’re a millionaire, too. Even Obama is a millionaire, you don’t see media people complaining about his wealth,” said Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture for Media Research Center. “Journalists and Hollywood all want to pretend they were one with the common man. They aren’t. Sure some of them might have paid their dues long ago, but those dues have been paid back with a mighty interest. They are part of the elite in both wealth and access, they don’t care about Romney’s wealth. They care that he is not on their team.”
New York-based political PR specialist Adam Weiss concurred that such jibes are merely part of the “Hollywood DNA.”
“It was once a treasure in America to be wealthy, it was championed in the media and looked up to as something admirable,” he lamented.
On the flipside, other media experts say that the finance-related jibes aren’t examples of hypocrisy, as these entertainers aren’t running for public office.
“Mainstream comedians are successful because they make jokes about high profile people that the majority can relate too,” entertainment/pop culture host Jenn Hoffman commented, while crisis management/PR expert Glenn Selig noted that “jokes are funniest when they reflect how the public is seeing things.”
“Romney’s wealth is an issue for some people. In telling jokes, the hosts are simply finding a humorous way to reflect what the public is thinking and feeling,” he added. “Talk show hosts simply reflect that they are in touch with how everyday folk think and not that they are one of them.”
Reps for Maher, Letterman, Fallon, O’Brien, Leno, Colbert and Stewart did not respond to a request for comment.