'1/2 Hour News Hour' Makes Debut...
By Alan Breslauer on 2/19/2007, 2:44am PT  

Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer

1/2 Hour News Hour, which debuted tonight on Fox News, is not funny (see clip at right). But too few laughs is the least of the problems this Daily Show wannabe brings to the table. Of far greater concern is that 1/2 Hour undermines Fox News far better than even the Daily Show or Colbert Report ever could. Viewed another way, what is the Fox audience supposed to think when a show advertised as comedy that clearly seeks to emulate the satirical Comedy Central shows, delivers a program no different than any Fox News show but for a laugh track?

Instead of Sean Hannity zingers about polar bears and global warming you get 1 liners and skits about polar bears and global warming. Instead of Bill O'Reilly shouting down Hollywood liberals you get 1 liners about Hollywood liberals. And while the Fox News audience is not known for being perceptive, the similarities between Fox comedy and Fox news are not subtle. In fact, the contrived targets, both people and issues, are basically the same.

Perhaps the best illustration of the dilemma is seen in the debut episodes opening "jokes" involving Senator Hillary Clinton. Before 1/2 Hour's debut, Fox News had spent almost every day for 10+ years skewering Hillary to the point that much of the country views her as a cartoonish villain. So, when 1/2 Hour jokes that President Hillary would staff the White House with angry lesbians it's hardly funny. Dick Morris has said essentially the same thing on the O'Reilly Factor more times than I care to remember. And you can basically assume the same problem will arise for every politician and celebrity that 1/2 Hour targets.