Monday, May 01, 2006

It's Their Party and We're Not Invited

If your internet connection has been down this weekend, you may have missed the excitement rolling across the blogosphere surrounding Stephen Colbert’s speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner (video here, a transcript here). While I’m a big fan of The Colbert Report (and I seriously think he should get into politics sometime) in all honesty the monologue isn’t gut-busting funny (I think it actually makes better reading than watching). But it is a spot-on scathing takedown of the president and the mainstream media – his audience, in other words. You can hear and see the discomfort in the room when he makes jokes that cut too close to the bone – he’s clearly an outsider in the Washington press corps, and in their eyes he has crossed the boundary between friendly the little jabs that constitute journalism in the capital and really trying to land a punch on the power brokers in the government and the press. Jim Henley has a nice take on this:

To watch Stephen Colbert’s performance before the White House Correspondents’ Club dinner last night is to see a performer relentlessly refusing to let the audience congratulate itself. Hence the relative paucity of laughs from the crowd. The instant Colbert confides in the President from the podium that “I have complete contempt for these people too” and they realize he means it, the audience is lost to him. They were inviting him to join the club, as so many “outrageous” performers before have joined when given the chance, and he spat on their fingers as they prepared to show him the secret handshake. What they wanted was safe, American “of course we can laugh about ourselves, ha ha, it’s the national duty!” pseudosatire. What they got was an ass-ripping by a man who could barely contain his disgust with his surroundings.

By the way, my favorite line of his speech was this one:

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!

And “boxing a glacier” was a nice one, too – especially coupled with the global warming reference.

And while it is somewhat interesting about the lack of (MSM) press about this, I really can't get my shirt tied in a knot over this supposed oversight. They're complaining because the mainstream media is paying more attention to what Bush said than Stephen Colbert? Get a grip, guys. That's why God invented the internet.


At 6:46 AM, Blogger Molly said...

I was finally able to see this video last night, and found it more sad than funny to be honest. Well, sort of nightmarishly sad I guess, and I can see why Bush wasn't happy when it was over. With the normal Stewart/Colbert jokes about the Bush administration's incompetence and ignorance strung together like that, the bit definitely stopped being entertaining and started being more eye opening than I think that audience was looking for.

Bravo. Well done, Colbert.

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Speedy said...

Finally got around to reading that. Loved it. Terrible that's it is so true but that's our world I guess. Guys got guts.
I myself like the paragraph before the one you quoted (dont' want to coyp and paste much then). I also really liked the stab at Fox News.


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