Saturday, May 06, 2006

Colbert and the Reporters

Colbert's roughest line(IMHO)?
I stand by this man. I stand by this man 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
Joan Walsh(Salon): Colbert's deadly performance did more than reveal, with devastating clarity, how Bush's well-oiled myth machine works. It exposed the mainstream press' pathetic collusion with an administration that has treated it -- and the truth -- with contempt from the moment it took office. Intimidated, coddled, fearful of violating propriety, the press corps that for years dutifully repeated Bush talking points was stunned and horrified when someone dared to reveal that the media emperor had no clothes. Colbert refused to play his dutiful, toothless part in the White House correspondents dinner -- an incestuous, backslapping ritual that should be retired. For that, he had to be marginalized. Voilà: "He wasn't funny."
James Walcott:
Colbert was cool, methodical, and mercilessly ironic, not getting rattled when the audience quieted with discomfort (and resorting to self-deprecating "savers," as most comedians do), but closing in on the kill, as unsparing of the press as he was of the president. I mean no disrespect to Jon Stewart to say that in the same circumstances, he would have resorted to shtick; Colbert didn't. Apart from flubbing the water-half-empty joke about Bush's poll ratings, he was in full command of his tone, comic inflection, and line of attack. The we-are-not-amused smile Laura Bush gave him when he left the podium was a priceless tribute to the displeasure he incurred. To me, Colbert looked very relaxed after the Bushes left the room and he greeted audience members, signed autographs. And why wouldn't he be? He achieved exactly what he wanted to achieve, delivered the message he intended to deliver. Mission accomplished.Lance Mannion: I'm not surprised that many members of the Club are tut-tuting over Colbert's performance, calling it "inappropriate," suggesting that Colbert crossed some line of common decency, taste, and tact. He violated the Club rules. He came there and told them that what happens in Washington matters. He told them that they aren't playing a game or watching one. Lives are in the balance.

It'd be amusing to ask the Club members what they think someone like Mark Twain would have said if he'd come to their chummy little hoedown. I'll bet most of them admire Twain. Many of them probably read him and sigh out their wish to write like him with a pen warmed up in hell. It doesn't seem to occur to them to act on the wish, but nevermind. Think Twain would have made a couple good natured cracks about President McKinley's bald pate and called it a night?
"The problem is that this black tie underscores the notion that journalists are part of a wealthy elite, completely out of touch with ordinary Americans -- their audience."John Rogers: If Colbert "bombed", it was because the audience didn't like him. And you know what -- they WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO. We have been treated to toothless feel-good comedy for so long, we have forgotten what the court jester's job was: he was the only guy who could mock the King. And, seeing as we now have a President who acts like a King, it's only fitting that Colbert revive the tradition in its truest form. If I remember correctly, the toady court followers were also fair game for the Jester, and we could hardly call the modern media anything less these days, can we?

As for Colbert crossing the line -- how? Did he make remarks about the President's wife? About his children? His sex life? His draft dodging, his drinking and drug use before he found the Lord? No. Every joke used a well-known fact of public-record. Does anyone deny the poll numbers cited? Does anyone deny that the government response to previous crisises have been deficient? Does anyone deny that Administration officials outed Valerie Plame (hell, even the Administration officials now have to rely on he idea it was accidental)? Does anyone deny that the Administration has actively opposed global warming discussions? Listen -- if the President could do a long routine about not finding WMD's and laughing about it, while US soldiers died in the resultant war ... then to be frank I think he set the bar. Oddly, I think that if Colbert had done the routine the President did a couple years ago, THAT would have been crossing the line for me.Dan Froomkin: What Colbert was saying about the guy sitting a few feet away from him -- and I think this is what made so many people in that room uncomfortable -- was: Don't believe a word he says

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