Late-night talk show hosts influence perceptions of presidential candidates
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Late-night talk show hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon are well known for their humorous takes on topics that may seem dull for some, such as politics. To some extent, talk shows influence how the audience views political candidates. According to Sebby Thatcher, Carmel High School Democrats Club president and senior, these shows can draw out information from candidates the public may not otherwise know. He said although talk shows allow candidates to show audiences what kind of people they are, their personality may not reflect the issues they stand for.
“I think (the shows) increase political awareness on who the candidates are as people, but a lot of the time, you just get to know candidates based on how well they respond to the questions,” he said.
Although some shows take a step back from being controversial to avoid conflict with guests, many hosts such as Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert display a more liberal preference.
Ruchal Desai, Carmel High School Democrats Club secretary and junior, said talk show hosts bring attention to the public and raise awareness of current politics.
“These shows do it through humor, so I think more people are interested and like (politics) in an entertaining way,” Desai said.
However, Desai said the biased views of some programs affect the way political candidates are portrayed in the eyes of the public, which can persuade viewers to lean towards one side or the other.
“I think some of these shows can (affect elections) because they do portray Donald Trump, for instance, as a good or bad person,” Desai said.
According to government teacher Connor Bradley, whatever political affiliation the majority of the audience is may affect what kind of audience a show will cater towards. However, he said late-night shows also provide a platform in which people can learn more about politics in an entertaining way.
“(Shows) open up dialogue and get people more interested. And the more people are interested in politics, the more likely they are to go out and vote,” Bradley said.
However, some viewers may not believe talk shows to be the most reliable news source due to both biased views and evasion from controversial debates.
Thatcher said, “You should be voting on people based on what issues they stand for and if they relate to your own, not if you think they’re funny and can go back and forth with a late night talk host.”