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Trump brunt of late-night hosts' presidential race jokes 97% of time, report

If Biden wins, what will their material look like?

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People protest in front of NBC studios while they are calling for the network to rescind the invitation to Donald Trump to host Saturday Night Live show on November 4, 2015
People protest in front of NBC studios while they are calling for the network to rescind the invitation to Donald Trump to host Saturday Night Live show on November 4, 2015
(Kena Betancur / Getty Images)
Updated: October 20, 2020 - 2:50pm

President Trump is the brunt of an overwhelming major of jokes by late-night TV hosts about the 2020 presidential candidates, according to new report from George Mason University. 

The late-night hosts – including Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert – made fun of Trump 97% of the time, instead of Democratic challenger Joe Biden, shows the report released Monday by the university's Center for Media and Public Affairs.

The study found that Fallon and Colbert collectively told 455 jokes about Trump, compared to just 14 about Biden. The numbers don't include their 64 jokes told about members of the Trump family or administration.

Robert Lichter, a communications professor at the university, says late-night humor has for the past three-decades almost always targets Republican over Democrats – but the divide now is much wide. 

In 2016, Lichter says, Trump was the punchline 78% of measured late-night candidate jokes, while Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was the focus of the other 22%. 

"I think they will find a way to keep making jokes about Trump, even after he leaves office," says Lichter, who speculates that late-night writers may struggle to come up with subject matter should the president be voted out of office next month. 

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