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TV comics asking the tough questions

The Baltimore Sun

One of the most exciting developments of this historic election has been the way some of the nation's best comedians have stepped up their games and given their fans information and insight into the candidates that the press has largely failed to deliver.

Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert have been at it for months on their Comedy Central shows, while Tina Fey and the writers of Saturday Night Live have in recent weeks been doing some of the most searing political commentary in the history of the celebrated NBC sketch-comedy show.

And last Thursday, David Letterman weighed in with one of the smartest and most focused interviews of a presidential or vice presidential candidate during this election - asking hard questions of Republican candidate John McCain that journalists should have but didn't, particularly about McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as running mate.

McCain, who had been trying to play the role of Genial John rather than Grumpy Grandpa McCain during the conversation, kept saying that Palin was "absolutely" qualified and stressing her campaign-created persona as a "reformer." But as the questions about her qualifications kept coming, McCain started to get annoyed enough to ask at one point, "Have we pretty well exhausted this topic?"

There is more of my review of Letterman's hard-nosed and illuminating interview on my daily blog at I will also have a review there of Saturday Night Live - with Palin's first scheduled appearance - right after the show this weekend.

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