Biden disinformation board, speech cop ripe for satire, but mainstream comics don't indulge
Love or loathe President Donald Trump, but the 45th commander in chief gave comics all the material they needed.
Now, the Biden administration is serving up a potential bounty of low-hanging new satirical fruit, but so far most comedians aren't indulging.
Biden's proposed Disinformation Governance Board, an off-shoot of the Homeland Security Department, promises to root out "lies" peddled by Russia, Iran and other global forces. Conservatives pounced on the group's formation, dubbing it a spiritual cousin to George Orwell's Ministry of Truth from his dystopian classic, "1984."
Biden's group will be led by Nina Jankowicz, a so-called disinformation guru who previously labeled the Hunter Biden laptop story Fake News and sang the praises of Christopher Steele, author of the widely debunked Steele Dossier.
That plus her history of posting goofy TikTok videos of her singing in a Mary Poppins-style falsetto about "misinformation" offer up comic gold.
At least on paper, that is. We've yet to see late night TV or "Saturday Night Live" line up to explore the possibilities. Stephen Colbert is laser-focused on the Roe v. Wade debate flowing from the Supreme Court leak earlier this month.
Unwoke comedy insurgents, however, are another story. Paul Crosetti, executive producer of the right-leaning satire series "That Show Tonight," says his show already has the topics in its sights.
Pulling no punches, a recent "That Show Tonight" parody featured the new board's "strategist," Vilhelm Kannepertz, speaking in a Nazi-like accent.
"The no-brainer is comparing the department to past 'ministries of truth' regimes," Crosetti says. "You can see how Jankowicz could easily become a caricature of herself, especially if she spends any amount of time in the public view."
He doesn't expect much comedy competition, at least for now, in poking fun at either Jankowicz or the board in general.
"If recent history serves as a guide, mainstream network shows, whether 'SNL' or the late-night shows, will steer clear," he says of those left-leaning outlets.
Comedian Andrew Heaton agrees that Colbert and co. won't be addressing the board or its antic maitresse anytime soon.
"I'm the sort of person to make fun of this thing, and this is the first I've heard of it — I doubt it's widely known, and probably a secondary issue to Ukraine, Roe v Wade, and of course the eternal 'the other party is truly evil' slapfight," says Heaton, host of podcasts "The Political Orphanage" and "Losers, Pretenders & Scoundrels."
Political satirist Lou Perez thinks comedians will come around to both the board and Jankowicz.
"A Disinformation Governance Board that openly threatens civil liberties should be a nonpartisan field day for joke slinging," says Perez, author of the upcoming book, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore: On the Death and Rebirth of Comedy."
"The question is, which comedians?" asks Perez, who previously satirized both sides of the political aisle via We the Internet TV. "For years, many comedians on the left were afraid to make jokes that could hurt their side. Trump was an existential threat after all … I think this is an opportunity for them to step up and rightfully mock our current president and his administration."
As for Jankowicz, her social media warblings make her perfect for a Broadway musical parody. "Musical versions of George Orwell's 1984 have been done already," he says. "But I imagine Jankowicz's 2022 would be a lot brighter than '84. More pop and TikTok, you know. Call Jankowicz 'Miss Information' or something cute like that."
Tyrus, the wrestler-turned-pundit from Fox News' "Gutfeld!," sees plenty of satirical fodder in the board and its leader — but fears party discipline may interfere with comic opportunity.
"Unfortunately, [comedians] let division and politics get in the way of a great joke or jokes," he says. "Tragic."
Like Perez, Tyrus envisions a musical take on Jankowicz, like "singing telegrams when you're canceled for a tweet," he suggests.