Satire can be traced back throughout history; wherever organized government, or social categories, has existed, so has satire. More Hitchens: www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=tra0c7-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=381615f4cc6c29abc05ef426a4616e10&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=books&keywords=hitchens
The oldest example that has survived till today is Aristophanes. In his time satire targeted top politicians, like Cleon, and religion, at the time headed by Zeus. "Satire and derision progressively attacked even the fundamental and most sacred facts of faith," leading to an increased doubt towards religion by the general population. The Roman period, for example, gives us the satirical poems and epigrams of Martial while some social satire exists in the writings of Paul of Tarsus in the New Testament of the Bible. Cynic philosophers often engaged in political satire.
Due to lack of political freedom of speech in many ancient civilizations, covert satire is more usual than overt satire in ancient literatures of political liberalism. Historically, the public opinion in the Athenian democracy was remarkably influenced by the political satire performed by the comic poets at the theatres. Watching or reading satire has since ancient time been considered one of the best ways to understand a culture and a society.
During the 20th and 21st Centuries satire is found in an increasing number of media (in cartoons as political cartoons with heavy caricature and exaggeration, and in political magazines) and the parallel exposure of political scandals to performances (including television shows). Examples include musicians such as Tom Lehrer, live performance groups like the Capitol Steps and the Montana Logging and Ballet Co., and public television and live performer Mark Russell. Additional subgenres include such literary classics as Gulliver's Travels and Animal Farm, and more recently, internet Ezine and website sources such as The Onion, TheWashingtonFancy.com, the Humor Times, ArnoldSpeaks.com and the Happening Happy Hippy Party. Some websites exist solely to poke fun at politicians, per the examples below.