The Listening Post

Satire: Mocking news, lampooning power

A Listening special on the evolving role of satire and the satirists who are holding power to account.

The late Molly Ivins, the syndicated columnist based in Texas, once wrote that satire is the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. In essence, she was saying that if you cannot beat them and you do not want to join them – mock them.

Traditionally, there has been a relationship between journalists and satirists – the former report the news, the latter provide the added edge. And satire has a way of cutting to the core of an issue, deflating egos and exposing hypocracy.

Political satirists have been doing their thing for centuries, starting with cartoons. But in the electronic age, there has been a shift. With all the news outlets now available 24-hour channels offering less news and more opinion, more satirists have turned their attention to the news media, because the media – like other societal institutions – are just another form of power that needs to be held to account.

Listening Post looks at the role that satire is playing in media around the world and the consequences it can have for the satirists.