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May 05, 2006


But here's the part of the Post they do read.

I continue to mull why the mainstream press -- and more specifically, the elites within it -- reacted so negatively to satirist Stephen Colbert's performance at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

It's worth looking at where Colbert was coming from. His show, of course, is a spin-off from Jon Stewart's Daily Show on Comedy Central. Both Colbert and Stewart have risen to superstar status largely by calling (how can I put it here?) baloney on the Bush administration -- and on the press corps that transmits said baloney without the appropriate skepticism or irony.

Their very subversive message, at its core: That this Bush guy is basically a joke. And that the mainstream press is a joke, because it takes Bush at his word.

It's true that Colbert and Stewart have a lot of fans within the press corps who appreciate and maybe even envy their freedom to call it like they see it.

But I think that message was just too much for the self-satisfied upper crust of the media elite to handle when Colbert threw it right in their faces on Saturday night.

I think Anonymous Liberal has it exactly right. How is Colbert's career going to be hurt by this, esp now that Bush has been consistently polling in the low 30s for months? Hosting the correspondent's dinner isn't like the Oscar's or anything, so it's not like Colbert would have been trying to get invited back or anything. He's gotten himself some serious buzz for something that only appeared on C-SPAN on a weekend.

And in terms of Redstone's cbs, "60 Minutes" did a very complimentary puff piece on Colbert the very next night, more publicity for Colbert. (I don't recall them pointing out that Viacom owns both cbs and Comedy Central, but maybe they did.)

Jim E

Excellent point--I forgot about the 60 minutes thing. Though technically, CBS split off from Viacom earlier this year.

I remember reading an article that came out after the Colbert Report had been on for a couple of months that said it picks up something like 98% of the viewers of The Daily Show. So the show has a big following already, and I imagine its ratings spiked this week, as others who may not watch TDS (yes, they do exist) tuned in to see what all the fuss was about. As long as 18-49 year olds continue to be the main demographic that advertisers pursue, there's no way Viacom is going to undercut The Colbert Report.

I am a avid TDS watcher, and yes, I do sometimes watch Colbert. Actually, I have problems watching the whole show, just too much satire that time of night for me. But I have gotten to where I enjoy the opening monologue and the bit on the :"aily Word", and sometimes I stick around for a guest that sounds interesting.

I hope all the hoop rah means that even more people will tune in. The more the merrier.

Oh, yes, DemFromCT is so right. The part of the Washington Post that we all do read is Dan Froomkin. He is terrific. Melanie Mattson once said "A day without Froomkin is like a day without sunshine," and I have a similar feeling.

JWC above: I also don't like staying up late enough to see TDS and Colbert. They are on re-run next day at 2 p.m. so I usually watch then while on the treadmill. Makes the treadmill an enjoyable experience.

I still don't think Colbert was very funny at this particular dinner. But I also think the controversy will help his career. I'm not sure why this has to be either/or.

Humor is in the splitting sides of the beholder.

The fact that the audience of access journalists didn't laugh made it funnier to me, as did Bush's squirming facial expressions. I was sitting alone in front of a computer when I saw it and I laughed until tears were rolling down my face.

Agree with you EW. Redstone has no reason to worry and must know it. What is the administration going to do? Hate CBS some more? Put pressure on 'Girls Gone Wild' Inc? Harry Random House? I don't think so. Even though they are hits, TDS and Colbert Report are, in the scheme of things, extremely small potatoes dollar-wise (though not influence-wise). Advantage Sumner. Similar dynamic with Colbert himself: if he was worried about being a multi-millionaire with media-tenure, he certainly wouldn't be doing what he is doing, and has been doing, for years.

I was not a particular fan of 'Strangers With Candy' (the show Amy Sedaris and Colbert were on before TDS), but it certainly wasn't what you'd call a least common demoninator/lets go for the big bucks-type show. Even better, IMO, was a short-lived show Colbert was involved with called 'Exit 57' (also on Comedy Central).

Satire is not always 'ha-ha'-funny. Thank god it still exsists in this country, at least a little bit. 'South Park' doesn't really qualify because - while hilarious at times - it ALWAYS chickens out. Those two guys think that transgression-for-its-own-sake is satire (farts/vomit/anal sex, etc.). They think that taking nothing seriously is comedy. But taking nothing seriously - nihilism - is actually the death of comedy: taking nothing seriously is the same as taking everything seriously. There is an earnest humorlessness fretting wanly behind all the hilarity. Thank god there is still some of the real thing around.

Maybe there's something wrong with me, but the site of watching Bush squirm being called out on all the shit he's done was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. As my wife's jaw dropped in disbelief line after line as Cobert tore Bush apart, there I was tucked over, rolling on the floor, gasping for air in laughter. I think I need professional help.

Either there's nothing wrong with you, or we're both crazy, fireback. I was screaming with laughter and delight. I understand that it didn't strike everyone the same way (as laughter-inducing), but that doesn't diminish the value of it.

what colbert did wasn't about "career". it's cynical and snide to assume that it was. but, just to join the devil's advocate who proposed this conceit, i say, if that were the case, brilliant! colbert has enough daring to become not only the president of the united states but to be the host of the tonight show and the colbert report.

I thought some of Colbert's jokes were total gut-busters (my favorite was the one about the great government we've built in Iraq), but I wasn't cracking up throughout the entire routine, probably because to regular watchers of his show a lot of this was kinda the same old schtick. I find it funny, but I probably crack up only two or three times per episode.

Colbert had a great line last night, interviewing some Congressman from Oregon. "Your obsession with bicycling," he said, "borders on the interesting."

I'm not suggesting Colbert did this to help his career. I think he was attempting to be as funny as possible and, in this case, falling short. I also believe this will help his career. Did anyone suggest this was "about career" for him? Is there some reason to bring up this straw man?

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