After Santorum’s Win, The Daily Show & Colbert Report Laugh Again At His Google Problem

US Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s near win in the Iowa caucus results drew renewed attention to his “Google problem” not only from the media but also in bits last night on both Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. They’re the latest in a year-long laughfest over how he appears in Google and Bing.

Santorum’s Google Problem

As we covered in depth on our sister-site Search Engine Land yesterday, a search for “santorum” on Google — as well as Bing — brings up a definition of “santorum” as being a by-product of anal sex, a listing itself that’s a by-product on Santorum’s views toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Both Comedy Central hosts Stewart and Colbert have long had fun with this. Below, a recap of what they’ve done over the past year, as well as the latest from last night, including The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart promising to swear-off the jokes.

July 2006

While practically all of the Santorum-Google jokes came this year, way back in 2006, Jon Stewart was already on the case:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2006 – No-Mentum
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Stewart did a quiz of things you might not know about Rick Santorum, including:

F) If you Google Rick’s last name, you might learn a fun new word for a substance you may not even know existed

February 2011

As best I can tell, Colbert got the first shot off of this year, with an entire segment about the search:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Rick Santorum Internet Search
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Colbert starts out:

Santorum has name recognition. Only one problem, he’s got name recognition.

He then goes on to explain how Santorum ended up in the situation where the top result on Google was related to anal sex and how after Santorum complained again about the result, searches spiked from those checking it out. Colbert joked that meant:

The only people who haven’t heard about this are the Amish.

May 2011

Stewart poked fun in May:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 – Good Luck Motherf@*kers Edition – Blather for Elephants
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

This was just before the first Republican presidential debate, effectively Santorum’s coming out party. After listing the unknowns taking part, Stewart said:

Not exactly household names. In fact you might have to Google some of those candidates, although I guess the last guy would prefer you didn’t do that. By the way, if you didn’t get that joke, go google ‘santorum” right now. I’ll wait.

There was a short “Google Break” screen with music that then appeared:

Then says Stewart:

Yeah can you believe that?

Guest Keira Knightley certainly couldn’t:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Keira Knightley
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

“I just googled ‘santorum.’ I feel like my innocence has been taken away,” she said, when coming out for her interview.

July 2011

In July, Stewart was back looking at how much each candidate had raised:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 – Survival of the Funded
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

With Santorum coming in last, getting Stewart to say “$500,000 in the war chest, bye-bye” followed by a clip of an alligator pulling a wildebeest into the water for dinner, adding after that:

Sadly that image is still the only the second most unpleasant image you get when you Google the name Santorum.

August 2011

In August, Stewart noted that the Santorum campaign was handing out samples of peach jelly:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 – Corn Polled Edition – Ames Entertainment Preview
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Stewart jokes:

Wow. Rick Santorum must really be trying to change the search results that come up when people Google “santorum” and jelly.

The same month, after Santorum argued that marriage can’t be defined to include gays, Colbert took aim:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag – Evangelical Scientists & Rick Santorum
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

He joked:

Nobody knows better than Rick Santorum that you can’t just redefine something to mean something else. Santorum means only “former senator from Pennsylvania,” and if you don’t believe me, you can Google it.

September 2011

In September, Santorum said that “if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, [Google would get rid of it], prompting Colbert to mock both Santorum and Google:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – I Think, Therefore I Brand
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Google took most of the attention here, and not about the Santorum result but rather anti-trust hearings about whether Google’s search results were biased. Colbert then quoted the head of Google’s spam team, Matt Cutts, about how a court had ruled “Our web search results are protected speech in the First Amendment sense.”

That led Colbert to quip that the Founding Fathers surely meant:

We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of hacked Scarlett Johansson nude pics.

November 2011

After the Herman Cain dropped out of the race, and Newt Gingrich was said to gain his supporters, Jason Jones did a bit:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 – After Dark, Oooh Yeah Edition – Herman Cain’s Damaged Campaign
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Explaining he was as Santorum headquarters, Jones said:

If you’re looking for directions to Rick Santorum’s campaign headquarters, do not, and I cannot stress this enough, search Google Maps.

And he added about Gingrich gaining supporters:

Santorum is only what I can describe as frothing mad.

Before The Vote

The day of the caucuses, Stewart was back again, talking about candidates being like a box of chocolates (hey, that was my joke!) with on getting a little “santorum” on another chocolate.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 – Romspringa – Rick Santorum’s Surge
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

As for Colbert, he revisited how the Santorum result came to be:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Indecision 2012 – Iowa Caucus
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Colbert joked:

Now if you’re drinking a milkshake, or eating a chocolate mousse, I advise you to set it aside before I read Savage’s definition of Santorum…. But thanks to his surging Iowa campaign, Santorum has now forever ended this unfair association of his name with hot man love. Right news people?

Colbert then cuts to a quote from a Fox News show Santorum’s surge in a way that be be heard as double-entendre.

After The Vote

With Santorum’s near-win in Iowa, Colbert celebrated another victory for him:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Indecision 2012 – Iowa Caucus – Mitt Romney’s Victory Speech & Rick Santorum’s Coup
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Joked Colbert:

Santorum scored an even bigger victory last night, because this morning, for the first time in eight years, when I googled the word “santorum,” the first result was for Rick Santorum…. so Senator Santorum, I hope you’re feeling a frothy mixture of pride and hope.

Actually, the anal-sex definition was still the first “regular” result. It was only a special election box that probably won’t last long that pushed it to second place.

Now that Santorum is a top-tier candidate, Stewart said it’s time to leave the jokes behind:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Indecision 2012 – The Corn Identity – Top-Tier Candidates
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

After giving Santorum what seemed to be sincere praise for the passion in his speech after the vote, Stewart said:

We’ve had good fun here at the show with his last name and its place in Google history but no more. We’re not doing it any more. It’s a New Year, and in honor of the well-fought grassroots Iowa caucus, I am now going to shred the hours and hours of Emmy-eligible ass juice jokes we had prepared for him…. Never going to do it again no matter how tempting it would be to use some of them.

Then a Fox News clip immediately follows about how counties that Santorum won in Iowa are colored in brown, but Stewart holds it together, closing with:

From here on out, I vow to only ridicule Rick Santorum for his absolutely absurd and sometimes vile political and social viewpoints.

Learning More

Jokes aside, the Santorum listing has raised some serious questions about whether Google should be intervening to change the results. Our Search Engine Land story from last September takes a detailed look at this issues, including how Google has intervened to stop “Googlebombs” — which this isn’t — but which arguably benefited an embarrassing situation for Republican President George W. Bush:

Since the Iowa vote, Santorum has also messed with his web site in ways that makes it even harder for it to naturally overtake the anal-sex definition, providing some valuable SEO lessons for the candidate as well as anyone. Our Search Engine Land story from yesterday explains more:

Postscript: There have been many updates to this story. See our Santorum’s Google Problem category at Search Engine Land for the latest articles.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Features & Analysis | Search Marketing | Top News

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About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://twitter.com/jccornwell Chris Cornwell

    Me thinks you have multiple reasons for highlighting this story so much Danny.  Some professional and some ulterior. 

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