The Atlantic

The Conversation

Readers respond to articles in the May issue.

The Politics of Late-Night Comedy

Caitlin Flanagan’s May article, “How Late-Night Comedy Alienated Conservatives, Made Liberals Smug, and Fueled the Rise of Trump,” provoked responses from, among others, Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show.


“Trump and Bee,” Flanagan argues, “are on different sides politically, but culturally they are drinking from the same cup, one filled with the poisonous nectar of reality TV and its baseless values … Trump and Bee share a penchant for verbal cruelty and a willingness to mock the defenseless.”

It is far more consequential, of course, when Trump does the mocking. But Flanagan is correct that the attitude of late-night television gets mixed up in the public mind with the mainstream media and appears to many as a monolith of cruel, establishment bias.

On the whole, people can better tolerate being shouted at than being sneered at. And the sneer of the knowledge class was

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