Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Did media miss real Colbert story?

The Chicago Sun-Times TV critic has a terrific analysis of Stephen Colbert's performance last week (which I missed but got to catch online when I got back to the States), as well as a transcript, so if you're as behind as I am on this, do check it out: "Colbert's routine was more remarkable for its unique and creative brazenness. He joked that Bush's presidency is like the Hindenburg; that Bush's wiretappers were monitoring this very event, and that the White House press corps, sitting in front of Colbert, gave Bush a free pass, scandal after scandal, until recently (when his polls numbers dropped).

How's this for a newsworthy lead? It was perhaps the first time in Bush's tenure that the president was forced to sit and listen to any American cite the litany of criminal and corruption allegations that have piled up against his administration. And mouth-tense Bush and first lady Laura Bush fled as soon as possible afterward.

From whom were they fleeing? A star comedian pretending to be a Fox News-like blowhard doing a sort of performance art that America hasn't witnessed nationally since the days of Andy Kaufman. Even if Colbert's bit had been reported as a train wreck, that would have sufficed. Instead, shocking lines like the following were barely covered by any traditional organ except industry magazine Editor & Publisher: 'I stand by' Bush, Colbert cracked, 'because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.'

For TV reporters in particular to quote that gruesome line would be an agreement with Colbert, that they helped Bush mix politics with corruption from the ashes of 9/11 ('aircraft carriers and rubble'), and failed to see through Bush's politicization of the drowning of an American city after a hurricane ('recently flooded city squares').

But ignoring a newsworthy keynote speech -- at an event the press corps itself set up -- doesn't go unnoticed anymore. Internet stables for liberals, like the behemoth, began rumbling as soon as the correspondents' dinner was reported in the mainstream press, with scant word of Colbert's combustive address."


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