"Daily Show" Co-Creator Learns the Hard Way that Political Jokes Are Not Appreciated During Tragic Events
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"Daily Show" Co-Creator Learns the Hard Way that Political Jokes Are Not Appreciated During Tragic Events

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | May 21, 2013 | Comments ()


People who hang out on the Twitters will understand that the best time to be on the microblogging service is when major events are happening, because your wife stopped watching "Doctor Who" after the 11th Doctor and you need someone with whom to commiserate after that ending; or because you want your opinions of that Oscar speech validated; or because you need that injection of information during a tragic event, even if the dose is mostly half-truths and conjecture. We also understand that the best time to make jokes is during these events because there are a ton of people on, and they understand your frame of reference.

The exception, of course, is during a tragedy. Typically, the best thing to do on Twitter during something like the Boston Marathon bombing or last night's Oklahoma tornado is shut your damn pie hole and keep your jokes to yourself. Lizz Winstead -- the co-creator of "The Daily Show" -- is another in a long line of high-profile people who learned that lesson the hard way, after she made a tacky joke at the conservatives' expense.

"This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives," she tweeted, which honestly isn't even funny (although her other tornado related tweets were: "How long has Obama known about this Tornado?" and "Tornado just bumped me from MSNBC. #Benghazi").

To be fair, the tweet arrived before the destruction was well known, and she deleted it soon thereafter, apologizing her fool heart out (via TV Guide)

"Made a political joke, Twas before devastation revealed. In hindsight, had I understood, I would have refrained. Beyond sorry. #LetMeHaveIt" she tweeted. Winstead continued to try and make amends, telling her critics that "it's worth giving me sh--. I was an idiot" and calling her tweet, "Bad joke. Bad timing. Just bad." Winstead then proceeded to tweet multiple ways to donate to tornado relief.

Obviously it was poor judgement on her part, and she at least recognized that and handled it well, but it once again demonstrates that tragedy -- or even the likelihood of tragedy -- is a terrible time to drop jokes on Twitter.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • wombat

    Shame, Shame on you Ms. Winstead! Your Bad! Ever since I watched the Wizard of Oz, I've been terrified of Tornadoes and witches. I make sure that every apartment I live in has a storm cellar . You should lickedy-split go to confession and say 10 Hail Marys! But Hurricanes and Earthquakes are funny! I could listen to jokes about them all day!

  • bigpartymaker

    A comedian made a joke about a tragedy which outraged people who have nothing better to do, and then she apologized for it. Cool story bro

  • NateMan

    Terrible idea. Rock solid apology.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I want a shirt like that.

  • idgiepug

    Me too! But with sleeves because my upper arm fat is one part of me that does not need to be liberated.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Mine are the same.

    Subject: Re: New comment posted on "Daily Show" Co-Creator Learns the Hard Way that Political Jokes Are Not Appreciated During Tragic Events

  • Ms Winstead is a treasure, and she immediately fell on her sword. That's all you can ask of someone, and thank you for ending your inquiry properly, DR. I'm sure in a few weeks CNN will finally tire of talking about this, about a week after they're done with the tragedy and two weeks after they stop talking about how these storms are only going to worsen due to climate change.

  • Devin McMusters

    I wasn't aware of this woman, so I Google-imaged her and found a pic of her eating a corn dog. I'm in love.

  • e jerry powell

    She used to be a decent stand-up, but she hasn't been a road comic since before her first exposure to Craig Kilborn. She did sit on a panel for Paul Provenza's show at Montreal last summer.

  • Devin McMusters

    She had me at the corn dog.

  • e jerry powell

    And somehow, I'm not surprised.

  • Anon

    The wording is strange (I had to read it twice before I understood it) but it is pretty clever - kind of a combination of the IRS scandal (targeting of conservative groups) and the claim that natural disasters occur because... gays.

    Or maybe I'm just reading too much into it.

    The Onion has issues with this sort of thing all the time. It comes across as callous, certainly, but it's not making fun of the disaster or its victims any more than the Obama or Benghazi tweets did. She handled it very well, though.

  • BWeaves

    My general opinion of Twitter is stay off it unless you have some really important news to report.

  • Aaron Schulz

    I think had the joke been funny it might have gone over better, but that just screamed trying to hard.

  • Not only was it a horrible joke, it was an obvious horrible joke. The kind that makes me scream "And you wonder why people think liberals are smug?".

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Actually, some guy (Erickson?) who writes for Red State had a similarly-themed tweet that produced similar outrage, except he reveled in it. It was something along the lines of "wonder how long it will take Obama to learn about Oklahoma."

  • lowercase_ryan

    Because a conservative has never made a distasteful political joke/comment on Twitter right? Bad decisions aren't mutually exclusive to one side or the other.

    There is a large portion of the country that equates being educated with being smug.

  • Aaron Schulz

    Pretty sure people who feel the need to use those labels need to get aids. like all of the aids. fyi thats directed at both of you

  • lowercase_ryan

    you object to the use of liberal/conservative labels?

  • I'm with you. We can take him.

  • lowercase_ryan

    If I need to I'll break out the AIDS.

  • Aaron Schulz

    more directly i oppose liberals and conservatives pretending they are different. and the fact that i still cant gives aids with my mind, thanks obushma

  • lowercase_ryan

    you don't think liberals and conservative have any substantive differences in ideology?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    cue song from Team America....

  • Sara_Tonin00

    It is really interesting reading comments on the NY Times about the tornado (which, thank goodness they've revised the death count down from 91 to two dozen or so). A good half of the comments are either about global warming (eye roll, because tornadoes have been here forever) or the fact that OK's senators voted against additional funding for Sandy recovery and noting that our congressional representatives won't be so callous.

  • PaddyDog

    There was one Republican Congressman (can't remember name) on NPR this morning who said he voted for Sandy relief and was given a hard time by some of his colleagues and at the time he said to them "the district I represent is one tornado away from what happened on the east coast so I'm voting to help them". That was quite refreshing to hear.

  • googergieger

    Wait, what? Tornadoes have been around here forever therefore they can't be tied to global warming? Alright. See this is what I told the cops when that neighbor kid was arrested for burning his house down. I mean sure, he had the matches in his hand, and the gasoline canister was lying right next to him, and he told the cops out right he burned the hosue down, but my argument was, "Officer, fire has been around forever". Score one for Googergieger. Fuck da police.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I oversimplified, but I literally saw comments like "maybe if we burned less gasoline fewer people would have died in Oklahoma."

    I don't disavow global warming, and I do think it has led to some changes in weather. I'm not sure major tornadoes fall into that category, though. Tornadoes to some extent are like earthquakes - there are so many more of them than we are aware of. I think more and more we are seeing populations spread, and so more people are in the path of the tornadoes and they do greater damage. Maybe I'm unaware of it, but I haven't seen a reputable scientific study that ties tornadoes to global warming like other weather phenomena.

  • Anon

    "(eye roll, because tornadoes have been here forever)"

    To be fair, though, while you're right, they have NOT been here forever in this intensity and quantity.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You can see my longer comment to googergeiger below, but I don't think that is true

  • TSF

    This does seems to be the way many people react to tragedy now. And I think that immediate political point scoring is even less tasteful than poorly timed attempts at humour.

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