Fair, Balanced Mockery

Question: How does the Onion try to avoid partisan satire?

\r\n

Joe Randazzo: It’s hard to be impartial, and it’s hard to know sometimes where the line is, but I think while we are a comedy outlet that’s first and foremost is designed to entertain it does really aid with the verisimilar attitude of being a news organization. If you can appear to be as impartial as a real news organization tries to appear to be. The main I think is that nobody on the staff has a political axe to grind or ideological axes to grind. I think people get more upset about you know somebody having finished the mayonnaise than they do about genocides and Darfur unfortunately. But I try to be really aware of it we’re talking politically how many times we do jokes about Republicans and how many times we do jokes about Democrats and sort of making sure that we’re…we are walking down the middle. A lot of that work is done for us just by the sheer stupidity of politicians in general. You know we are really just trying to mock things that are stupid and people acting in stupid or hypocritical ways, and that happens on both sides of the aisle enough, more than enough, but we always get complaints from conservative readers saying that we’re not hitting Obama specifically enough or enough, but there the problem is that people get upset that we don’t criticize policy initiatives on the part of whoever is the current president based upon what their own perspective on that policy issue is. Like we’re not a left-wing organization who is trying to propagate a left-wing way of thinking, and we’re not a right-wing organization who is trying to do that either, so we can’t pick apart policy moves. We just, we’re not politicians. We’re not political, but when Republicans, for instance, you know try to portray Obama as a socialist who wants to kill your grandmother, that’s just absurd. That needs to be pointed out and ridiculed because it’s absurd and on the other hand, you know when Obama says he is going to do one thing and then sort of backs down and does another that also is… needs to be satirized. So I try to be very careful about it, mainly because I want both sides to read us and enjoy us and we do have lots of conservative readers who like us as well.

\r\n

Question: Do you ever get bored with the day-to-day side of politics?

\r\n

Joe Randazzo: I think the much more interesting thing for us to cover and which is what we do well is to kind of comment on what’s going on in the country rather than what specific politicians are doing. These things change from day-to-day and if you look on a historical scale politicians have been doing the same stupid things over and over again since the time of togas, so our job, and what we’re interested in as consumers in America in 2009 as individuals, and then translated into what we do in The Onion, is mocking the media, mocking Republicans, mocking Democrats. I personally went through a period a few years ago where I was intensely consuming political news and it wore me out and sort of depressed me. I read a lot less of it. I read it a lot less closely nowadays than I was say four or five years ago when every new story would throw me into a rage. You know it was a lot of energy for trying to go up against something that’s an immoveable force that’s been in motion since the dawn of man, man’s stupidity and hubris.

Recorded on November 30, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Onion editor Joe Randazzo explains how his paper maintains the highest standards of objectivity and integrity in pissing people off.

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Join Matthew Yglesias and Charles Duhigg at 1pm ET on Monday, September 28.

Ultracold gas exhibits bizarre quantum behavior

New experiments find weird quantum activity in supercold gas.

Credit: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • Experiments on an ultracold gas show strange quantum behavior.
  • The observations point to applications in quantum computing.
  • The find may also advance chaos theory and explain the butterfly effect.
  • Keep reading Show less

    Learn innovation with 3-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn

    Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live.

    Big Think LIVE

    Having been exposed to mavericks in the French culinary world at a young age, three-star Michelin chef Dominique Crenn made it her mission to cook in a way that is not only delicious and elegant, but also expressive, memorable, and true to her experience.

    Keep reading Show less

    3 cognitive biases perpetuating racism at work — and how to overcome them

    Researchers say that moral self-licensing occurs "because good deeds make people feel secure in their moral self-regard."

    Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash
    Personal Growth

    Books about race and anti-racism have dominated bestseller lists in the past few months, bringing to prominence authors including Ibram Kendi, Ijeoma Oluo, Reni Eddo-Lodge, and Robin DiAngelo.

    Keep reading Show less

    Should you grow a beard? Here's how women perceive bearded men

    Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"

    Photo Credit: Frank Marino / Unsplash
    Sex & Relationships
    • A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
    • Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
    • Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
    Keep reading Show less

    Only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease

    Yet 80 percent of respondents want to reduce their risk of dementia.

    Photo: Lightspring / Shutterstock
    Mind & Brain
    • A new MDVIP/Ipsos survey found that only 35 percent of Americans know the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
    • Eighty percent of respondents said they want to reduce their risks.
    • An estimated 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025.
    Keep reading Show less
    Quantcast