Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Colbert kicks ass at White House Press Corps dinner — and is ignored

The left-lib U.S. media is told-ya-so-ing about how Stephen Colbert savaged the Bush record as host of the White House Correspondents Dinner and got virtually no coverage as a result.

Here’s a video link 

From Salon’s Daou Report:

The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was televised on C-Span Saturday evening. Featured entertainer Stephen Colbert delivered a biting rebuke of George W. Bush and the lily-livered press corps. He did it to Bush’s face, unflinching and unbowed by the audience’s muted, humorless response. Democratic Underground members commented in real time (here, here, and here). TMV posted a wrap-up

On Colbert’s gutsy delivery, watertiger writes, “Stephen Colbert displayed more guts in ten minute of performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner than the entire Bush family. He, along with the ever-feisty Helen Thomas, deftly exposed the “truthiness” to the world (or at least those who were watching) that Bush AND the D.C. press corps are indeed a naked emperor and his gutless courtiers.”

Mash at dKos says, “Standing at the podium only a few feet from President Bush, Colbert launched an all out assault on the policies of this Administration. It was remarkable, though painful at times, to watch. It may also have been the first time that anyone has been this blunt with this President. By the end of Colbert’s routine, Bush was visibly uncomfortable. Colbert ended with a video featuring Helen Thomas repeatedly asking why we invaded Iraq. That is a question President Bush has yet to answer to the American public. I am not sure what kind of review Stephen Colbert’s performance will get in the press. One thing is however certain – his performance was important and will reverberate.”

It appears Mash’s misgivings about press coverage are well-placed. The AP’s first stab at it and pieces from Reuters and the Chicago Tribune tell us everything we need to know: Colbert’s performance is sidestepped and marginalized while Bush is treated as light-hearted, humble, and funny. Expect nothing less from the cowardly American media. The story could just as well have been Bush and Laura’s discomfort and the crowd’s semi-hostile reaction to Colbert’s razor-sharp barbs. In fact, I would guess that from the perspective of newsworthiness and public interest, Bush-the-playful-president is far less compelling than a comedy sketch gone awry, a pissed-off prez, and a shell-shocked audience.

This is the power of the media to choose the news, to decide when and how to shield Bush from negative publicity. Sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of commission. And speaking of a sycophantic media establishment bending over backwards to accommodate this White House and to regurgitate pro-GOP and anti-Dem spin, I urge readers to pick up a copy of Eric Boehlert’s new book, Lapdogs. It’s a powerful indictment of the media’s timidity during the Bush presidency. Boehlert rips away the facade of a “liberal media” and exposes the invertebrates masquerading as journalists who have allowed and enabled the Bush administration’s many transgressions to go unchecked, under-reported, or unquestioned.

From The Huffington Post’s Chris Durang:

The media’s ignoring Colbert’s effect at the White House Correspondents Dinner is a very clear example of what others have called the media’s penchant for buying into the conservative/rightwing “narrative.”

In this instance, the “narrative” is that President Bush, for all his missteps, has a darling sense of humor and is a real regular guy, able to poke delightful fun at himself and his penchant for mis-using and mispronouncing words.

Who cares if he lied to start a war? (Or chose to ignore all contrary opinion, which as far as war-starting goes, is pretty crummy.) Who cares if he declares he’s above the law, and according to the Boston Globe yesterday there are something like 750 laws he’s decided don’t apply to him as “Commander-in-Chief”?

The Globe article’s first sentence: “President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.”

If the President doesn’t obey the law, what the heck is he? He’s a dictator in a coup, I think — but no matter, according to the media, he’s A-DOR-ABLE!

As noted above, the Democratic Underground has a full transcript, but here’s a sample of Colbert’s remarks:

Folks, my point is that I don’t believe this is a low point in this presidency. I believe it is just a lull, before a comeback.

I mean, it’s like the movie “Rocky.” The president is Rocky and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world. It’s the 10th round. He’s bloodied, his corner man, Mick, who in this case would be the Vice President, and he’s yelling cut me, dick, cut me, and every time he falls she say stay down! Does he stay down? No. Like Rocky he gets back up and in the end he — actually loses in the first movie. Ok. It doesn’t matter.

The point is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face. So don’t pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he’s not doing? Think about it. I haven’t.

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.

(almost no laughs)

Now, there may be an energy crisis. This president has a very forward-thinking energy policy. Why do you think he’s down on the ranch cutting that brush all the time? He’s trying to create an alternative energy source. By 2008 we will have a mesquite powered car.

And I just like the guy. He’s a good joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half. And polls show America agrees. She’s a true lady and a wonderful woman. But I just have one beef, ma’am. I’m sorry, but this reading initiative. I’ve never been a fan of books. I don’t trust them. They’re all fact, no heart. I mean, they’re elitist telling us what is or isn’t true, what did or didn’t happen. What’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914. If I want to say it was built in 1941, that’s my right as an American. I’m with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen.

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. Events can change, this man’s beliefs never will.

And 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.

(Half-hearted laugh)

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on N.S.A. wiretapping or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason, they’re superdepressing. And if that’s your goal, well, misery accomplished.

Actually, having watched the video, I would say some of Colbert’s material is stronger in print than it was in delivery. But I also suspect many people didn’t laugh because the jokes hit way, w-a-a-a-y too close to home.

Tue, May 2 2006 » Main Page, Media, politics