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Bee, Stein, Johnson, Nader - Asa

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September 13th, 2016


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02:01 am - Bee, Stein, Johnson, Nader
I wrote this as a comment on The AV Club, but I realized a lot of it is stuff I've been wanting to write here, so I'm posting it here too! It's about Full Frontal, the political comedy show hosted by Samantha Bee, formerly of The Daily Show. Watch out, it contains naughty words. Don't get hurt by the naughty words.

Well, I just watched Full Frontal and now I feel gross. I shall write an excessively long comment about why I feel that way, because I can.

As someone who supports third party candidates (this is the part where you roll your eyes and stop reading) I'm often frustrated by the unfair coverage they get. As someone who thinks Samantha Bee is kind of great, it hits especially hard when she buys into this.

In this episode Sam Bee is angry at everyone, which I think is pretty justified, but whereas she goes after her mainstream targets with intelligence and wit, her response to third-party candidates is basically to plug her ears and go "la la la I'm not listening". Her criticism of Jill Stein is: 1, she doesn't know much about Jill Stein; 2, Jill Stein is protesting with Native Americans, which can only be a publicity stunt because she's white. (She refers to Stein as "Dr. What's-her-name", then says to send your petitions to "My Snatch, c/o Suck It, You Know I'm Right, Pueblo, Colorado 81001". Okay, that's pretty funny, but "you know I'm right" seems to refer to the notion that Stein shouldn't run for president because she's not well known; meanwhile Trump is a serious candidate solely because he's well-known. I don't like this logic.)

The main thing that bothered me was the "spoiler effect" argument which is always brought up when you don't know anything about third party candidate because you don't hear much about them, which is their fault somehow. The argument goes like this: In 2000, Ralph Nader ran for president, which caused the Supreme Court to give the presidency to the guy who had less votes, and if we vote for Jill Stein, the same thing will happen again. This sounds like bullshit, except when I add that most people believe it, at which point it sounds a lot like the truth.

Anyway, tonight Samantha Bee took this logic from bullshit to extreme bullshit by saying that the reason Clinton isn't further ahead in the polls is because of third-party candidates. Not just Jill Stein, who's the most similar to Nader, but Gary Johnson too. Bee is saying that if Gary Johnson weren't running, all his support would go to Clinton. What the entire hell? Has she willingly forgotten everything she knows about libertarians? The exceeding ineptitude of this argument sickens me. It shows that she's just not going to engage third parties at all. Unlike with the rest of her targets, she's not even worried about reality, she just wants to shut them down, no matter what they have to say.

She goes on to remind us that Gary Johnson, like most Americans, didn't know what Aleppo was. Pretty much everyone, including myself and Gary Johnson, agrees that this is horribly embarrassing and un-presidential. Bee concludes that the long-shot candidates should not have complained that they weren't getting attention because once we know things about them we don't like them. (This is a tacit approval of how the media handles things, but you know what they say about a broken clock: get a new one.) I guess this is close enough for comedy in Johnson's case, but her whole thing against Stein was that she didn't know much about her, so that's awfully lazy. I'm not sickened by this part, just mildly disappointed.

As I said, I think Bee is great, and I applaud her efforts to change our society for the better, but she's bound by a Democratic Party way of thinking and that doesn't give her a whole lot of room.

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