Washington, Oct.11 : Television star Tina Feys humorous impersonations of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live (SNL) may be no laughing matter for Palins running mate, Senator John McCain, says Lauren Feldman, an expert on the political effects of late-night comedy.
When audiences are exposed to political humor or satire, they are less likely to oppose the information in the message or question whether it is fair or accurate, says Feldman, an assistant professor at American Universitys School of Communication.
Relative to more traditional direct attacks in political ads, political jokes and other comedic portrayals that paint candidates in a negative light present greater opportunity for negative information to seep into the audiences consciousness. Ultimately, it can affect the perceptions of a candidate, adds Feldman
Because Feys sketches accentuate Palins folksy persona, her interview and debate performances, and her g-dropping, gosh darnit speaking style, they are likely to make Palins negative traits and image characteristics more top-of-mind for viewers. This, Feldman says, can indirectly contribute to a more unfavorable rating of the McCain-Palin ticket.
So, will SNL swing the election? According to Feldman, probably not.
Feldman says. At the very least, by making the campaign front-and-center in its sketches, SNL might help raise attention to the campaign among viewers who otherwise would ignore it.