Comedian and future (possibly former) Daily Show host Trevor Noah ran into some trouble this week when some of his old (and not so old) Twitter jokes resurfaced to fuel the internet's outrage engine for a few days. While many were calling for his head, many others had his back, including living comedy legend Patton Oswalt, who mounted a 53-part Twitter defense that essentially dismissed any and all criticism of jokes as the work of overly-sensitive crybabies.
Also coming to Noah's aid was actress and writer Lena Dunham, who gave the embattled comic cover for the several "fat chicks" jokes he had come under fire for in several tweets that Noah then retweeted:
That's fair enough, notwithstanding the false choice both of these defenses present, and Dunham's ability to drown her hurt in heaping piles of cash. They're just jokes. What, then, are the chances that these same folks will come to the defense of Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, who cracked a fat chick joke of his own on The Mike Gallagher Show:
"She's got a lovely voice. She could stay off the deep dish pizza for a little while."
Now, in Wallace's defense, he was being a much smaller asshole about it than host Mike Gallagher, and his crack was a good deal less offensive than those Noah tweeted, but as Mediaite's Matt Wilstein pointed out, Clarkson herself gave a fairly convincing indictment of these jokes' effect on women and girls' body image during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Friday:
"What hurts my feelings for people is, I will have a meet and greet, and a girl bigger than me will be in the meet and greet, and they will be like, 'Oh, God, if they think you're big, I must be so fat to them.'"
Still, since when is it Chris Wallace's job to care about the feelings of women and girls who struggle with their weight? It's mot like anyone's ever going to die from that.
Of course, Chris Wallace is not a comedian, so you could argue that he doesn't get the wiggle room that a Trevor Noah should get, but isn't that all the more reason Wallace shouldn't be judged for a single joke that "didn't land?"
The biggest difference between Trevor Noah and Chris Wallace, though, is that while they were both guilty of being unfunny dicks, only one of them already has that as his job description.