Yeah, everyone in the free world is probably familiar with this already, but I can’t ignore this weekend’s comedic humiliation of the press corps and president by Stephen Colbert (ignore, no. Procrastinate for half a week, apparently).
Every year, the White House Correspondent Association throws a fancy dinner/gala, a time for the president and the Washington journalist set to make nice and remind each other of their symbiosis, and remind keen-minded Americans that the press and the president are not enemies, they’re on the same team.
For some reason, the Dinner organizers decided to hire Stephen Colbert to be the keynote speaker, where he could do his satiric “I’m an arrogant right-wing pundit asshole” shtick. Colbert took the stage, with his audience surely expecting snark and a few zings. They weren’t prepared for the long knives.
My favorite bits:
Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in “reality.” And reality has a well-known liberal bias…
I mean, it’s like the movie “Rocky.” All right. The president in this case is Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed is — everything else in the world…
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…
The greatest thing about this man is he’s steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday…
Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city! Yeah, give it up. Mayor Nagin, I’d like to welcome you to Washington, D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center. And a graham cracker crust of corruption. It’s a Mallomar, I guess is what I’m describing, a seasonal cookie.
So Colbert stood maybe 20 feet from the president, and mocked the shit out of him, reminding him of his flaws and failures, while pretending it was lofty praise. As if that wasn’t enough, plenty of Colbert’s speech was also an attack on the press themselves. He went in there exposed them for the incompetent bastards they are.
As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president’s side, and the vice president’s side.
But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they’re super-depressing. And if that’s your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good — over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out.
Fox News jokes are easy to make, but Colbert whips around and accuses the mainstream press of not even trying to research and report vital stories of the past five years. And he’s completely right. Every news outlet oughtta have at least one person saying “hey, you know what’s important? Climate change, fake rationales for war, a food supply tainted by pesticides and antibiotics, racism, sexism, and poverty. Let’s cover that instead of printing another piece about Paris Hilton.”
And I enjoyed the gag during Colbert’s recorded segment where he pretends to be the new White House press secretary, where he looks down at the secret buttons hidden on his podium: “Eject”, “Volume”, and “Gannon.” While Jeff Gannon is usually mocked as the male prostitute who pretended to be a reporter, he was more prominently the fake reporter who the White House let into press conferences to lob softball questions in case of emergency. That there would be a button for the press secretary to summon him cracked me up.
Not surprisingly, Colbert’s act did not get many laughs from the audience. But, you don’t do a routine in which you call everyone in sight a corrupt cowardly asshole and expect them to love you for it. And the reporting showed it. You’d think that a comedian harshly ridiculing the president to his face in front of hundreds of journalists and politicians would be newsworthy. And you’d be wrong. Reporting about the Dinner actually focused on a gag that Bush did earlier in the program with a Bush impersonator, and pretended like Colbert hadn’t been there at all. Go figure.
One more point. Maybe journalists ought to stop being so nice to the White House. Reporters, they are not your friends. The government is now talking about arresting you folks if you print information leaked to you. Friends don’t draft legislation to arrest each other. Think about that one.
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