This woman was a very unique television political commentator, and that is what made her so effective at getting her point across and being very influential. She was not a commentator who simply went on television and stated her ideas, but she was also a comedian, so she could entertain people.
Yes, Janeane Garofalo was influential as a television political commentator, because people believed what she said. She continues to have a presence in the media and as a public figure. Of course, it is true that she was known for controversy, but she always had a lot of facts to back up her opinions. Garofalo had a wide following and influence.
Janeane Garofalo was influential during her heyday in the 1990s and she is a rousing feminist. However, other voices have replaced hers in the mainstream consciousness of political discourse. Bloggers such as Pamela Geller and personalities like Dr. Laura Schlessinger have replaced Garofalo 20 years later. Garofalo still is influential to her fans, but her voice has been diluted by the rise of the Internet and cable television.
Although a likable TV political commentator, I don't think she had much influence on political commentating. To be influential, this would mean that she inspired others to copy her style of commenting or paved the way for people like her--for example, in the way that Rush Limbaugh paved the way for the likes of Michael Savage and Bill O'Reilly, or Jon Stewart for Stephen Colbert. There are virtually no commentators today that I could say were inspired by Garofalo.
Janeane Garofalo had lost most of her star appeal by the time the new millennium rolled around, and so she did what a lot of outspoken liberals (and on occasion, some conservatives) with a minor celebrity presence do - turned to politics. As it stands, Garofalo's work in commentary never gained much traction.