Date of Award

12-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

English

First Advisor

Jennifer Sinor

Second Advisor

Keri Holt

Third Advisor

Charles Waugh

Abstract

This thesis examines Donald Trump's disruption of political satire. The history and format of the White House Correspondents' Dinner provides a framework for understanding the shifting relationship between the president's administration, the journalists who cover that administration, and political comedians. These three groups cross paths at the White House Correspondents' Association's annual dinner, which the president traditionally attends and where a headlining comedian entertains guests with a monologue. Trump's decision to skip the Correspondents' Dinner set the stage for a renegotiation of the traditional relationship between president, press, and performer. As President Trump continues to attack both journalists and late-night hosts, the two groups continue to discover common ground. The work of comedians looks increasingly like news reporting, and late-night shows have developed a format based on extensive research and journalistic storytelling. These comedians, however, insist they are only comedians, and dismiss the idea that they are responsible for any political outcomes. Controversy surrounding the 2018 Correspondents' Dinner centered on this question of the role of comedy. Tracing the history of the 2006, 2011, and 2017 Correspondents' Dinners provides a context for examining Michelle Wolfs consequential monologue at the 2018 Correspondents' Dinner, which highlighted both the potential and the limitations of political satire in Donald Trump's political world.

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