Today on Blogcritics
Home » “Truthiness”? Stephen Colbert and Comedy as Political Argument

“Truthiness”? Stephen Colbert and Comedy as Political Argument

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Stephen Colbert certainly made a big impression at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Many people in the room and covering the event were not impressed. Hey, he made the press out to be lapdogs. They almost came off worse than Bush. But if he hurt some itty bitty feelings in the press corps, good for him. The transcript from the event is pretty funny, and that’s what counts in a comedy routine.

Personally, I’m inclined to appreciate that Colbert threw stuff this scalding at the POTUS from but a few steps away. Rock and roll! Slap that sumbitch around like an ugly, redheaded stepchild. Keep him humble.

Just do not pretend like you’re seriously participating in political debate. Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are mere comedians, not intellectuals whose material should be taken seriously. Colbert is not, in fact, a legitimate political commentator making rational arguments based on facts. He’s a liar and a slander artist. That’s his job.

Look, comedy isn’t fair. That’s a given. Fair and balanced comedy is probably going to be worthless, and not even funny. Yuck!

But of course, you don’t run the country based on frickin’ comedy routines. I feel stupid for needing to say something that obvious, but we can’t run our military based on punch lines from Comedy Central. It’s going to take a little more than a half-assed Jon Stewart monologue to deal with crazy nuclear mullahs in Iran.

Specifically, I reject the underlying point of Colbert’s claim of “truthiness.” In his backwards comic way, he’s arguing that he’s speaking truth to power and that the power (Bush, et al.) is lying. That is, in fact, substantially exactly backwards on both counts. In reality, President Bush has been among the more honest presidents of recent memory — if only because he knows he couldn’t get away with acting like Bill Clinton.

But more significantly, Colbert, et al., routinely make crap up. Colbert said at this dinner, “I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the “No Fact Zone.” In context, he obviously means Bill O’Reilly, but in all real truthiness, it’s even more applicable when speaking of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. I think O’Reilly’s a slug who’ll twist facts and make mountains out of molehills, but he’s generally not just making crap up. O’Reilly runs, perhaps, a selective facts zone, but Colbert and Stewart pretty much DO run “no facts zones.”

Colbert’s idea of political argument, on the other hand, runs to:

General Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff. General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They still support Rumsfeld. Right, you guys aren’t retired yet, right? Right, they still support Rumsfeld.

Now, you could say that this is just a joke — though not particularly humorous. But that’s not how people who were gaga over Colbert’s performance want to take it. They want to say, yeah, he really told the president what time it is!

Okay then, let’s look at that statement as an argument. The implication is pretty clear and simple: that Rumsfeld and the Bush administration have really screwed the pooch, and any major military guy who was speaking honestly would tell you that.

Except that there’s no significant evidence supporting this implication. It is a statement of fact, not opinion, that there is no basis for these implications. There were half a dozen retired generals with who knows what combinations of personal and professional axes to grind who spoke out a couple of weeks ago. Out of all the retired high level military, this isn’t very many — certainly not enough to begin to justify the implications of Colbert’s lines.

In the taped skit, speaking of the Iraq War, Helen Thomas said, “Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true.” That’s a lie. She, and anyone taking her seriously, are childishly refusing to acknowledge FACTS. For starters, there clearly is significant evidence that, in fact, Hussein’s representatives really were attempting to acquire Nigerian uranium, as per W’s famous 16 words from the SOTU.

Now, I don’t that much fault Colbert for any of this. Again, he’s a comedian, not a legitimate news analyst. Establishing truth and justice is beyond his job description or pay grade. His main job is to make people laugh. He tends to make me laugh, so I figure he’s doing his job. I would hope that he’s got enough sense not to believe his own press. He just needs to be truthy enough with himself to accept that a lot of this shtick is just whoring for his liberal audience.

But what’s really whack is the way that many Bush haters rely on Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert as their primary arguments. For example, Brother Blogcritic Steven Hart posits that “Colbert was after something more than just laughs.” Yeah, buddy, don’t kid yourself.

It is, to understate it significantly, intellectually disreputable. They’re trying to get away with a whole bunch of absolutely unearned points, bunches of bullshit presumption and character assassination with no actual backing in reality. Note how it is precisely the most whacked lefty moonbats with little regard for facts who are the most adamant about Bush lying and how they’re “reality based” — as expressed backwardsly in Colbert’s “truthiness” shtick.

In the real world of America 2006 though, it is the Bush haters — the core cheering section for Stewart and Colbert — who are most clearly getting their truth from down deep in their guts rather than anything to do with external evidence.

Basically, offering comedy like this up in the place of actual political argument is demagoguery. It’s an appeal to emotions rather than logic. Get the audience on your side on a personal level as a funny fellow, and then slide in the bullshit friendly-like where they’re more likely to just go along with your “joke” than to think any of it through.

But when some specific piece of your pinko fantasia gets busted by some truth patrol, and it gets to the point where simple childish refusal to acknowledge doesn’t work — hey, it’s just comedy. You’re not taking this crap seriously, are you? Lighten up.

Powered by

About Gadfly

  • http://www.ryanclarkholiday.com ryan

    I think you’re on the right track, and the foundation of most comedy is lying by omission. That being said, Colbert is funny as hell.

  • Eric Olsen

    good points Al, and I mostly agree. Part of what people are responding to with Colbert is that a large number of people, of every political stripe, do respond to news and events as Colbert’s neo-neoconservative does: not letting the facts get in the way.

  • zingzing

    hrm, don’t you think that your article clearly illustrates exactly what colbert wants to say? that while he shouldn’t be taken seriously, neither should o’reilly (who is an entertainer), and neither should bush (who pretty much fits your “not intellectuals who […] should be taken seriously” and who use “an appeal to emotions rather than logic” who “just needs to be truthy enough with himself to accept that a lot of this shtick is just whoring for his [dwindling] audience.”)

    his comedy, like all of the best comedy, has elements of truth. or, truthiness. whatever. he points shit out… and that shit is funny. too bad for you if it works to point out how manipulative people like o’reilly and the current administration have been with “the truth” (smile, nod) vs. “the truth” (frown, shaking head).

    liberals depending on comedy central is just as fucking stupid as conservatives depending on fox news. but, at least we get a laugh out of it.

  • Barry

    I like how you denounce everyone who doesn’t have “evidence” and then add your own attacks without evidence. Really makes you sound intelligent. And there is clear evidence that Bush exaggerated evidence, but I guess that would just be opinion evidence.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    liberals depending on comedy central is just as fucking stupid as conservatives depending on fox news. but, at least we get a laugh out of it.

    Now there’s an example of bias at its finest. I get PLENTY of laughs out of Fox News.

  • zingzing

    oh shut up.

  • bogornes

    Well, I agree with some points (Comedy isn’t fair, a comedian shouldn’t run the world, a punchline can’t sum up a total argument). You follow up with a pretty bad example regarding Rumsfeld:

    “OK then, let’s look at that statement as an argument. The implication is pretty clear and simple: that Rumsfeld and the Bush administration have really screwed the pooch, and any major military guy who was speaking honestly would tell you that.

    Except that there’s no significant evidence supporting this implication. It is a statement of fact, not opinion, that there is no basis for these implications. There were half a dozen retired generals with who knows what combinations of personal and professional axes to grind who spoke out a couple of weeks ago. ”

    Read ‘Cobra II’ (maybe you have). The number of retired generals (0 or 5,000), axes to grind (your baseless, perhaps factless, editorial comment), the number of generals trotted out in support are ALL meaningless (they are merely ephemera). You fall into the same trap as reporters and politicians. (you opine, “…it is a statement of fact, not opinion, that there is no basis …”) There are lots of facts and facts matter (read the book! and many, many others). Colbert is just a comedian, but he daily points out that we live in an increasingly fact-free envrionment. WHO said something matters much more than WHAT was actually said, which matters more than what actually is TRUE. (and the loudest, most persistent one wins). It is the crux of his satire, and it is a devastating critique of our media (traditional and bloggy) and political discourse.

  • Blue Meanie

    Sounds to me like Al is a bit too busy crying in his 3.2 beer. Don’t like it when the shoe is on the other foot do you?

    For years we have had not only Limbaugh and his AM radio buddies doing this exact same shit, but they don’t even have the decency to be funny, or label it “humor”. Instead they have always taken the tone of journalists or reporters.

    Then we got an entire 24 hour news network, most of whose airtime is at least as factually challenged as Stewart or Colbert and who pale in comparison of real reporting to the usually funny as well as informative Countdown with Keith Olberman.

    But, as was said, “we all know reality has a liberal bias”

    And that’s the Truthiness.

  • fran

    Man, are you running scared! Can’t take the truth, can you?

  • Scott Kennedy

    The biggest argument against taking Al’s commentary with any weight is the selective use of evidence he employs. He offers one tepid quote of material from Colbert’s routine, a joke about generals (for which he also omits the punchline), ignoring all the the much sharper, funnier, and more scathing material in the speech. If you haven’t seen the video, you owe it to yourself to view and form your own opinion, rather than to accept the carefully edited version suggested by Al.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    In reality, President Bush has been among the more honest presidents of recent memory`

    Now that was funny, priceless even, ROTFLMAO worthy. And then I zipped through the rest of the article because all credibility was gone at this point.

    But it takes humorist, satirists bringing the daily dose of much needed sarcasm for someone people to wake up. Comedy isn’t policy, but bringing truth to light through comedy can only help. Humor can be a tool for change.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Some of y’all, particularly Zingzing and Blue Meanie, are kidding yourselves in all different directions at once. You’re volunteering as the targets of my criticism when you carry on like Colbert is an insightful intellectual. He’s not. He’s a comedian, a sitcom writer throwing stuff up against the wall to see what sticks.

    Plus, you’re also just being silly with your attacks on Fox News. There are certain specific commentators that are more obnoxious- O’Reilly and Sean Hannity specifically – but Fox News is a perfectly legitimate news organization. I’d judge them to be more actually fair and balanced than other networks.

    The main thing is that they present the known facts on major public issues, and they do have plenty of critics of the administration on network on a regular basis. Your basic complaint is really that Fox does not just go on blindly and rabidly attacking the administration at every turn.

    Again, O’Reilly’s a clown, and Hannity is a tool, but that’s two commentators, not their whole staff of reporters.

    This is not to say that Fox News is the only news source you need. That’d be stupid to say of ANY media source. Even with honest intent, their necessarily subjective choices in what facts to cover in what way certainly leaves stuff out. This would be true of any news organization.

    Limbaugh is a curious middle case. I’m a middlin’ Limbaugh fan at best, but he’s basically legitimate. He presents himself as being largely entertainment, and specifically he presents himself openly as a political partisan making arguments.

    But unlike Colbert, Limbaugh often clearly states a position on an issue, and presents relevant FACTS and at least an attempt at a reasonable argument. Now, you may question the relevance of some of his facts, or the line of his argument. I don’t buy a lot of the stuff that he says.

    But unlike Colbert or Stewart, he DOES present facts and arguments such that you can specifically argue against them. Limbaugh says that gas prices are caused by XXX, based on these data points. That’s at least the beginning of an intelligent public discourse. In short, Limbaugh offers legitimate political argument, Colbert does not.

    But Colbert IS a lot funnier.

  • Blue Meanie

    Well now Al, criticize away, from what heat you have brought so far I think a parka may be needed.

    I personally have no idea what Colbert’s intellect is, nor did I ever allude to such. Instead I have pointed out not only how insightful his most uncomfortable remarks were, but how devastatingly accurate and biting properly aimed sarcasm can be as a tool of political discourse.

    You give yourself away defending Faux news and Limbaugh. Not a smuch as you did with the quote from your post that Jeliel set up there.

    You can honestly, and with a straight face call this president honest by any stretch of the imagination?

    Call your shrink, you need your meds adjusted. Case in point: the Pres states clearly on national Tv that he not only doesn’t know anything about the Plame leak, but that he will fire anyone involved.

    a Lie as has been born out in Fitzgerald’s prosecution, not to mention what the WH itself has stated since.

    There’s lots more, folks have written whole books on how untruthful and dishonest Bush and his administration has been. Hell, just the NSA taps and torture shit that has come out of his signing statements has shown just what kind of lowlife he is.

    But still you stick with the 30% of kool-aid drinkers that desperately want to believe and trust this scumbag and his cronies.

    Do the measly few dollars of the tax cuts really buy your soul so cheaply?

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Jeliel, again, mere derisive laughter is not a political argument, or evidence that you are right. All that means is that you feel it way down in your gut- exactly what Colbert is mocking conservatives for.

    Mr Kennedy, I actually offered TWO specific examples from Colbert’s presentation- the generals and the scripted Helen Thomas quote from his “job interview.” Those are intended as examples, not as a thorough line-by-line critique of his whole piece.

    Also, the point was not to criticize them for not being funny, but rather for not being truthful. His presentation had a lot of the gut-level truthiness that he’s nominally criticizing the conservatives for.

    But I do second you in urging readers to see this for themselves. But better yet, separate the performance from the words he’s saying and their meaning by clicking that transcript link and reading the text of his whole presentation.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    BM (comment 13), your comments are but a shotgun blast of derision, not any kind of logical argument. Stuff about calling a shrink and checking my meds is, again, not evidence that your outlook has any merit whatsoever.

    Bush has mostly been pretty honest. He did NOT fabricate pre-war intelligence. He did NOT just make that stuff up about Nigerian yellow cake.

    Now, you don’t get to be POTUS without doing a little stretching and spinning. He didn’t want to admit to knowing Ken Lay, and they haven’t been very forthcoming on the Plame business.

    I’m not necessarily even giving Bush much credit for great high morals. The hostile press keeps him halfway honest. He’d probably be stretching stuff a lot more if he thought he could get away with it, but he knows he can’t.

    Your broad shotgun of Bush hating reflects a lack of clear thinking. You blast Bush over NSA and torture, which complaints might have some merit. But they’re NOT evidence of dishonesty. You might reasonably argue that Bush was overstepping his bounds with the NSA stuff, but that doesn’t make him a liar. You need to be more clear and linear in your argument.

    [SARCASM ALERT] But of course you’re right that my defense of FNC and Limbaugh are evidence of my partisan bias. Any objective source of news or commentary would spend all day jumping up and down yelling about Bush being Hitler and a liar.

  • ss

    Actually, my dad is a Limbaugh fan, and although I haven’t been subjected to Limbaugh for years, I heard plenty in his early days (back when Al would admit he was a fan, most likely).
    Limbaugh would cherry pick an outrageous quote from a lefty Humanities prof, counter it with a cherry picked factoid from a right wing think tank, then go off on a rant. That was his bread and butter, and although a few conservatives caught on quick and disavowed his nonsense early on, many were captivated by it for years and years.
    Those would be the same people continueing to argue that there were WMD’s in Iraq.

  • zingzing

    and where did i ever say that colbert was an ‘insightful intellectual?’ i actually said he was a comedian, acting a fool to point out the foolishness of others. come on now. he plays like a neoconservative, a particularily stupid one… because it’s fucking funny. what about comedy do you not understand? what about reading comprehension escapes you here? to say that we’re “volunteering as the targets of my criticism” just makes you targets of our criticism of stupid targets of criticism who don’t know that they are the targets of criticism. you think we’re the ones that look silly here? no, it’s bush and his ilk (which may now include you).

    fox news is not, nor has it ever been, ‘fair and balanced.’ that’s just a tagline. like ‘i’m lovin’ it’ is mcdonalds’ tag line. one has nothing to do with the other.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    The problem with folks NOT on the left is that everything must fit in a little box and cannot be in more than one box at the same time.

    Stewart, Colbert and folks like Letterman are cultivated intellectuals with bitting wit. Clowning around doesnt mean the clown isnt an intellectual. What makes them hystericaly funny is that they have the brains to see the big picture with a crispness that non-funny people lack. Just watch them when they interview people, they make references to history or what not that the layman knows little of. Stewart can completly crush the smartest of them with a knowledge base that is impossible to ignore.

    There’s steve-o funny, but there’s also intellectual funny. Being smart is about seeing the complete puzzle without having all the pieces of the puzzle.

  • Scott Butki

    “Bush has mostly been pretty honest. He did NOT fabricate pre-war intelligence. He did NOT just make that stuff up about Nigerian yellow cake.”

    Stop, Al! You’re killing me!

    “mostly pretty honest” – quite an endorsement.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Scott, I don’t particularly mean this as an endorsement of Bush, but as a critique of his opponents. That’s not the same thing at all.

    Again, I emphasize that after a dozen chances I have never, ever voted for anyone named Bush.

    Nonetheless, the most criticized words of his administration, the main classic example of Bush “lying” is the 16 words from the SOTU- but in fact evidence clearly indicates that Hussein was actually trying to buy Nigerian uranium. Bush was absolutely accurate in what he said there, and not just in a Clintonesque legalistic way. No amount of sarcasm from Comedy Central will change that.

  • Blue Meanie

    Well Al, I have no need for a shotgun, and might I add that your swiping jibe earlier was responded to in kind, and you have done me the favor of repeating the same tactic?

    Now that logic has shown truth, let’s try a bit of fun.

    Yes, I blast Bush over warrantless tapping and torture, not just because he authorized it, but because of the dishonest way he did it.

    Publicly he signed Bills passed by the House and Senate he controls, which banned each of those things in specific. He then waits until everyone is gone and the cameras are off, then puts on his signing statements saying he doesn’t have to listen to any of it, or follow the now passed laws.

    Now, if that factual enough for you to see the blatant dishonesty and disregard for not only the country’s laws, but the process as outlined by the Constitution?

    Now, as far as your request that I be more clear and linear.

    No.

    I’ll argue as I like, it’s up to you to keep up. So far you appear to be the only one having any trouble doing so, and I’ve not put anything out there that recent polls show over 60% of the American people agree with.

    As for your own feeble attempt at humor, Bush is a liar, proven time and again, but I will agree he is no “Hitler”

    Hitler was competent.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Again Jeliel, with comment 18 you are completely delusional, ascribing intellect and insight that are not in evidence. Name dropping a couple of historical allusions is not anything near to proof that Jon Stewart has any legitimacy whatsoever.

    You’re just so at up with Bush-hatin’ that anybody who trash-talks him is considered to be a genius. However, merely throwing every possible vague and unjustified slander and derision you can think of against the wall to see what sticks is not at all a legitimate form of rational political argument.

    And leave Letterman out of this. He’s got more humility than to be caught up in this foolishness. He is not trying to delude the public into thinking that he’s a crusader for truth and justice the way that Jon Stewart especially does on a daily basis.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    BM, your criticisms of Bush are irrelevant to my points about Colbert and Bush-haters. Even if Bush is a schmuck, that doesn’t make Colbert’s arguments legitimate.

    I’m not real thrilled about the NSA stuff, but Bush has at least some arguable defense for it. I will tend to give him some benefit of the doubt on this issue, though. This is a legitimate policy dispute, not some personal corruption. Bush wasn’t authorizing wiretaps on domestic political opposition, but trying to catch people who are trying to kill US citizens whom Bush is responsible for protecting.

    The tactics in this instance are questionable, and it’s perfectly reasonable to want to slap him around a bit on the topic. But this does not by any stretch justify comparisons to Hitler. If Bush erred on the NSA stuff, it was in the direction of being ham-handed in the pursuit of absolutely legitimate ends.

    More importantly, this does not justify the irrational hit and run tactics of Stewart or Colbert being taken as legitimate political debate.

  • deege

    Would Al please follow his own rule that personal attacks are not allowed?

    Satire, a time-honored tool for raising difficult truths, triumphed Saturday nite. For those who don’t get it, well, having to explain a punchline takes the fun out of it.

    Arguing with those who refuse to get it is probably a waste of time.

  • Some

    “legitimate political commentator”. hmmm. Isn’t this an oxymoron?

    I think the people who dislike what Colbert did would like it to be about “hey, he is just a comedian, don’t get your panties in a bunch and start questioning things” Well, Ronald Reagan was an actor, so in this world, I suppose the showbiz status doesn’t really affect “legitimacy” in politics too much.

    I agree. Stephen Colbert was hired to do a comedy routine, and he did it. But, the hubub that is surrounding it are people that haven’t heard the press get slammed, be it through comedy or otherwise, in a very public format. Quite frankly…I enjoyed it. So, if political discussion and action of America’s situation starts taking hold, who cares if it was a comedy routine or a “legitimate political commentary”?

    And for that…Thank you Colbert!

  • Justine

    Political commentary via comedy or not..it’s not how you got there, it’s where you’re at. And if it manages to pull people off of the couch and actively participate in politics – all the more better. If we were all participating, this would not have been so shocking for some.

  • KYS

    Whether or not Colbert was accurate, the POTUS seemed VERY pissed.

    That is commentary enough.

  • Scott Butki

    Ok, Al, I’ll provide a more thorough response:
    You started by saying:
    “This transcript is pretty funny, and that’s what counts in a comedy routine.

    Personally, I’m inclined to appreciate that Colbert threw stuff this ”

    (** I’m with you totally here.*)

    Personally, I’m inclined to appreciate that Colbert threw stuff this scalding at the POTUS from but a few steps away. Rock and roll! Slap that sumbitch around like an ugly, redheaded stepchild. Keep him humble.

    (** agreed)

    (**Then you for whatever throw up a straw man, a windmill, which you then attack for no clear reason:**

    Just do not pretend like you’re seriously participating in political debate. Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are mere comedians, not intellectuals whose material should be taken seriously.

    (** who is suggesting Colbert or Stewart are serious political debaters? Your premise of the piece seems to be that someone is but I’ve not heard anyone saying that. They may see he makes good points but I can argue that Dylan and Springsteen make good points too but that doesn’t mean I’m saying they are serious political debaters.)

    “Colbert is not, in fact, a legitimate political commentator making rational arguments based on facts. He’s a liar and a slander artist. That’s his job.

    ** Colbert is a satire of O’Reilly. So Colbert is as much a liar and slander artist as O’Reilly. But while O’Reilly claims to doing news and be objective Colbert is quite cear that it’s a comedy show. O’Reilly makes stuff like the war on Christmas into a major issue and ignores when his facts are wrong. Show me where Colbert has done that.)

    Look, comedy isn’t fair. That’s a given. Fair and balanced comedy is probably going to be worthless, and not even funny. Yuck!

    (** agreed.)

    But of course you don’t run the country based on frickin’ comedy

    (* again, who said we should?)

    You go on to suggest it is some terrible thing to have a comedian speak at this event when that has been an annual trend. Were you also upset when Don Imus told rude jokes about Clinton or with any other comedians poking fun at the president?

    Or is your real problem that he dared to make fun of a president who you believe – and this part kills me – is honest?

  • indy

    I loved how Colbert attacked the News Media from Liberal to Conservative.

  • RogerMDillon

    What a shock. Al needing “a weatherman to see which way the wind blows” before taking a few days after the fact to come up with yet again a controversial topic. Yawn!

    You start with a series of clarifications on points that no one has made.

    “do not pretend like you’re seriously participating in political debate.”

    Who said satire was serious political debate? It’s political criticism, which doesn’t need rational arguments and facts. Satire exaggerates purposely to make points. “Gulliver’s Travels” doesn’t use facts, yet it still makes valid criticisms.

    Who takes Stewart and Colbert seriously? Are people running around really worried about bears as a national security issue?

    “Fair and balanced comedy is probably going to be worthless, and not even funny.”

    Tell that to Dennis Miller who tried to be a right wing comedian on CNBC and failed.

    From your continual misuse of “truthiness”, it appears you don’t understand the word, which is odd because you use it so much. Truthiness is what a person feels is right regardless of the facts. It is not isolated to those in power as this article illustrates.

    “President Bush has been among the more honest presidents of recent memory”

    According to Libby, Bush authorized the leak of information because Wilson wasn’t truthful, so why didn’t Bush say that instead of saying “if anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.” Of course he later changed it to if the leaker committed a crime. Why do you think that is, Al?

    Bush also says he doesn’t govern by polls. If you believe that one, you haven’t been paying attention the past six years. From stem cells to gasoline prices, you see his positions change and fudge to appeal to the most people. There are entire web sites devoted to the lies and mis-truths of the President, so I’ll move on.

    “For starters, there clearly is significant evidence that in fact Hussein’s representatives really were attempting to acquire Nigerian uranium, as per W’s famous 16 words from the SOTU.”

    Hmmm, let’s hear what other have to say about it

    Press Secretary Ari Fleisher, “we’ve said this repeatedly — that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect.”

    National Security Advisor Condi Rice, “knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn’t have put this in the President’s speech — but that’s knowing what we know now.”

    and CIA Director George Tenet, “These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.”

    (Mr. Rose we really need a link button to make it easier to post those.)

    Most would think that if the administration was in the right, they would have stuck to their guns and explained it clearly, but maybe Al has inside information that none of them have.

    You miss the point, no surprise, of Mr Hart’s piece. Nowhere does he say Colbert spoke the truth, that we should follow his foreign policy nor was there any Bush-hatin’. Not that Hart needs me to speak for him, but he praised Colbert for attacking the press corp, whose dinner it was, not the President.

    “It’s quite another to march into a den full of people who think they’re lions and rub their noses in the fact that they’re nothing more than fat, spayed tabby cats who are less interested in exposing the powerful than they are in curling up by their feet.”

    I have to give you a wag of the finger because you are the one who comes across as intellectually disreputable. Stay out of politics and go back to what you do best: not getting rock music.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Brother Butki, where did you get this? “You go on to suggest it is some terrible thing to have a comedian speak at this event” That’s directly the opposite of what I said, which was “slap the sumbitch around.”

    As a comic, Colbert threw a bunch of shit at the wall to see what would stick. Some of it might be seen as implying perfectly legitimate criticisms, some of it is just made up nonsense.

    Some of the material fell flat with me. Some of it struck me pretty funny. Most of all it struck me as funny that he’d have the balls to be that harsh to his face. Hey, we PAY Bush to take rebuke. For starters, Colbert is getting his money’s worth as a taxpayer.

    But look at some of the commenters in this thread. They’re acting as if Colbert actually made some meaningful political statement. It seems that the best, closest thing to political agenda or argument they can come is a hit and run comedy monologue. Colbert was delightfully cheeky to the president’s face – and God bless him for that – but he was not anything like speaking truth to power. Indeed, in parts ie the two examples from the original post about the generals and Helen Thomas, Colbert was specifically speaking bologna to power.

    Again, as to being honest, I rate Bush somewhat middlin’ That’s not a ringing endorsement. You’d be a fool to completely trust ANY president. But he appears to be pretty sincere about trying to do right by defending the country- even if you legitimately disagree strongly with his judgement of what that right thing is.

    He’s not selling US out to the Chinese for petty campaign contributions, and he’s not bombing aspirin factories to divert attention from stupid personal scandals. He’s making a serious (if fumbling) attempt at grappling with our most pressing issue- not letting Islamic idiots murder US. That’s more than can be said for his immediate predecessor. And compared to the serial liars W had as electoral opponents, George Bush is Honest Abe.

    Look, W ain’t much, but he tries, God bless him.

  • truthful???

    sos……sos…….our planet is becoming overun with people with a strange disease. it seems to onset as they grow older and sadder. please respond before………..

  • Everyone’s a critic

    I find it interesting that you feel the need to pawn off the blame onto what you term the “Bush haters.”

    “Bush haters” are the problem with America?

    Umm…hate to tell you this…but with a 32% approval rating, that means 68% of Americans (i.e., the vast majority) are “Bush haters” right now. Sounds like you’re in the out of touch Bush apologist minority — shrinking minority, at that. Feel free to jump in with whatever righteously outraged, persecuted, woe-is-me, everyone hates Bush, complex you need to rationalize things.

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias, y’know, what with all the numbers and facts and things.

  • http://pushliberty.blogspot.com The Libertarian Guy

    Liberal radio guy, Ed Schultz, thinks the Colbert Retort is some kind of “conspiracy” to engender support for Bush.

    Yeah, right. Dunno if Schultz was being serious, but it’s best to leave conspiracy theory for REAL issues, no?

  • Abhinav Kumar

    You guys suc.

  • http://www.tresbleu/blogspot.com Sister Ray

    The espression “speaking truth to power” is so pompous and stilted. Like it’s inherently evil and dishonest to have any power.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Umm…hate to tell you this…but with a 32% approval rating, that means 68% of Americans (i.e., the vast majority) are “Bush haters” right now.

    32% approval is not the same as 68% hating Bush. There’s a long road between mere disapproval and real hatred.

    Dave

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    “Speaking truth to power” need not imply everyone with power is evil. It can also function as a test of those with power. The powerful who are not evil, dishonest, or otherwise corrupt will welcome the truth, even if it happens to contradict their most cherished illusions.

  • http://www.utopia2000.org Barry Stoller

    “… you don’t run the country based on frickin’ comedy routines.”

    Reagan did.

  • Evan

    I’m glad that folks like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are finally getting the attention they deserve.

    Al, I have a few problems with your post and following comments though.

    In your post you claim Stewart and Colbert lie pretty constantly. Now, if you accept that most of it is comedy, then you cannot call the comedic statements lies, as they’re not to be taken seriously anyway. But if you look at the serious statements they’ve made concerning the administration and policy, I think you’ll find very few (I’d be shocked to see any) lies. It honestly sounds like you’ve watched the show a couple times and made up your mind. You seem to be of the opinion that Stewart and Colbert actually fabricate facts and present them as truths. Your proof of this is Colbert’s reference to the retired Generals, and Helen Thomas’s statements. First of all, Colbert’s statements concerning the Generals merely pointed out that some retired Generals have criticized the administration, nothing more. How is that fabricated? Secondly, I don’t know if you realize this or not, but Helen Thomas’s part in the “Stephen Colbert: Press Secretary” video was NOT scripted. The actual press secretary part was actual footage edited together. I thought that was pretty obvious. Colbert did not twist any facts or fabricate anything. Obviously the rest of the video where she chases him was scripted.

    The other problem I have with your comments is that you seem to be holding a very contradictory and hypocritical view of the media. In comment 15 you say:

    “I’m not necessarily even giving Bush much credit for great high morals. The hostile press keeps him halfway honest. He’d probably be stretching stuff a lot more if he thought he could get away with it, but he knows he can’t.”

    and then in comment 31 you go on to say:

    “But look at some of the commenters in this thread. They’re acting as if Colbert actually made some meaningful political statement.”

    Well, according to you, Colbert DID make a meaningful political statement. He is the hostile press you speak of that keeps the President honest, so it seems that he has a very important role, and that what he says holds great value and meaning, according to you.

    You remind me of a guy on the bus whom I overheard talking about the Daily Show with a friend of his. He was saying how he didn’t understand why Stewart was making fun of Cindy Sheehan. She’s “a good guy” and he thought Jon Stewart was “a good guy”, so it didn’t make sense to him. Stewart makes fun of both sides (obviously with an emphasis on attacking those in power), just as Colbert made fun of both sides at the Dinner last weekend. And it’s important.

    Also, the notion that a comedian is somehow less valid as a source of political discourse than say, you, sits funny with me. As someone posted earlier, Jon Stewart is ridiculously intelligent. There’s a reason why not many right-wingers appear on his show.

  • http://digitalbattle.com Armin Siljkovic

    They ARE comedians, yet they make more sense that most “real” journalists.

  • http://bobrixon.blogspot.com riz

    Colbert was, to use a cliche, “speaking truth to power.” The only possible light humor about Bush is what you see & hear from Letterman & Leno (& even Letterman clearly dislikes the man). The jokes are all based on Bush’s inarticulate speech & robotic movement; laugh at the clown. But Bush is not a clown. Clowns are sometimes frightening, but there’s confetti in their buckets, not poison. One cannot touch on what Bush actually does without sarcasm & bitter irony. There’s nothing funny about Iraq or New Orleans viewed through the lense of the White House. Bush is enveloped by a cloud of death that is only darkened by his religious associations, & mocked by his corruption & cronyism. So OK, mainstream journalists, let’s be like a bunch of frat boy pals at a keg party. We’ll laugh when he pukes, & keep on laughing when he drop kicks a stray cat, & laugh even more when he pushes a coed into the corner for a quick feel. You have to lie to make President George Bush funny.

  • Dave Nalle

    Yep, Bush controls the weather and he is the primary inventor of Islamic fanaticism. I’ve heard it all before. Pity it makes no sense at all.

    Dave

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Riz, buddy it sounds like you got hold of a bad dose. Like President Carter in the classic SNL sketch, I’d recommend that you drink a beer and chill out for awhile with some Allman Brothers. Just realize that you’re a living creature on this planet, and you’re just fine. Breath in, breath out.

    No Armin, the comedians do not make more sense than actual journalists. That they say random stuff that appeals to that liberal truthy feeling way down in your guts does not actually mean that they’re saying anything actually meaningful or true.

    That distinction between inside feelings and outside facts is tough for Colbert fans to distinguish, I understand. But you really MUST try harder.

  • Zach

    Initiall, I was going along with what you said. But as soon as you said that Bush is one of the more honest presidents, I laughed and couldn’t possibly read anymore. At least, thanks for a laugh.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Evan (comment 40) writes, “In your post you claim Stewart and Colbert lie pretty constantly. Now, if you accept that most of it is comedy, then you cannot call the comedic statements lies, as they’re not to be taken seriously anyway.”

    Thing is Evan, they seem to be wanting people to in fact take their diatribes seriously. Again, look at the people carrying on about how he really spoke truth to power and such. Stewart in particular wants to have his cake and eat it too. They want to be taken as serious commentators, but they don’t want to have to meet the standards of legitimate intellectuals.

    Also, I do not dismiss the Comedy Central duo merely on grounds of being comedians. That is not a disqualifier. Some of the best penetrating political analysis going comes from South Park. Note how they say things directly, if in gonzo manner- but they make criticisms and back them up with argument. They make specific claims and arguments that you agree with or argue against.

    The Boondocks also does some pretty fair political art. If you want to see someone really take W apart, study the psychotic drunken idiot rich grandson Ed Wuntzler III- a wigger with a huge bling “W” hanging off his neck. Ed III is not quite policy analysis, but character analysis. Check out the episode “The Reality.”

  • troll

    the sad thing about Al’s claim that Bush has been one of the more honest presidents is that it’s probably true

    troll

  • MCH

    “Bush has mostly been pretty honest. He did NOT fabricate pre-war intelligence. He did NOT just make that stuff up about Nigerian yellow cake.”
    – Al Barger

    “Because he told me he did.”
    – Laura Bush (when asked by Tim Russert how she knew for sure GW attended all his National Guard meetings)

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Bush certainly gets ACCUSED of lying more than most other presidents. But then eventually the facts come out and it turns out he was telling the truth, as in the Niger yellowcake situation, where it turns out that Ambassador Wilson was victim of an elaborate scam designed to cover up Iraq’s attempts to purchase yellowcake. But the interesting thing is that the media was all over the Plame/Wilson affair, but there’s virtually no coverage of the recent revelations that Iraq really WAS trying to buy nuclear materials in the early 2000s.

    Dave

  • Evan

    Al writes (comment 16), “they seem to be wanting people to in fact take their diatribes seriously.”

    The thing is though, that just simply cannot be qualified in any way. There’s just no way you can prove such a thing, and I think if you spent more time watching Stewart specifically (whom you seem to despise more) and his interviews, you’d see that it’s clear he’s well aware that his show is a comedy show. He’s said many times on his show that it’s sad how his show is a certain demographic’s primary source of news, and is extremely self-deprecating at times. He knows his place. You’re using fans as an indication of what the source thinks, which is just wrong.

    Then you say, “they want to be taken as serious commentators, but they don’t want to have to meet the standards of legitimate intellectuals.

    Also, I do not dismiss the Comedy Central duo merely on grounds of being comedians. That is not a disqualifier.”

    So what exactly is the disqualifier according to you? Because you offer no supporting evidence for that statement. It seems to be total opinion. I would say that in fact they ARE serious political commentators, and that they do meet legitimate intellectual standards (especially Jon Stewart). Their arguments are rational, logical, and valid.

  • ss

    Bush invaded Afghanistan, Osama fled to Pakistan.
    Our Pakistani allies in the war on terror won’t allow us to send troops in mass into their country to look for Osama. That left Bush with two choices:

    1) Explain to the American people why Pakistani soveriegnty is more important to his administration than getting Osama, or
    2) Change the subject by going after a different Arab most of the American public hated just as much.

    Bush chose door number two. The arguement that’s raged
    ever since, the threat of WMD’s vs. the evil plans of PNAC, reveals more about the preconcieved notions of those who framed the arguement than anything else.

  • zingzing

    al, why are you holding on to this? bush got beaten up by a little comedian and he cried all the way home. nothing more, nothing less. he was made to look like a fool. you act as if someone doesn’t defend him, he’ll get thrown out of his club or no one will like him anymore. oh…

    and dave, what does “trying to buy nuclear materials in the early 2000s” have to do with “we’re going to iraq because they HAVE wmds?” that’s just like bush/conservatives/etc… change your argument when it turns out you’re wrong.

    “oh! oh! i was never saying THAT. no… you misunderstood. we think they thought about it, and that’s enough for us! kill! maim! oh shit, did i say that? um… no, i said kill! maine! yes. maine is next. watch it, maine. options are on the table. give us yer oil!”

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Evan (comment 50), where did you get this? “Their arguments are rational, logical, and valid.” They’re making NO arguments, and not even a failed attempt at logic. That’s my point against them.

    Stewart and Colbert do NOT do anything like make a thesis statement, and then support it with evidence and argument. They just throw all kinds of little scraps of innuendo real sly-like, and we’re supposed to just accept it because they said it.

    Now, Stewart goes on now and again about just being a comedy show, but he doesn’t believe that and he really doesn’t want us to believe it. Everything else he does says that he wants to be taken seriously- but then he hides behind the “comedy” excuse if he gets called out for bullshit. He’s long since drunk his own kool-aid, though, and obviously has himself convinced that he’s speaking truth to power.

    How illiterate do you have to be to take these people as offering legitimate political criticism? Only a motard raised on a steady diet of MTV would think that Stewart or Colbert should be taken seriously.

    Ultimately, the whole Daily Show phenomenon is indicative of the intellectual bankruptcy of liberal opposition to Bush. They have absolutely no one with any real answer, any alternative agenda for protecting the country, or dealing with any other problem. The best they can come up with is a half-assed stand-up comic making snide remarks.

    Again, snide remarks are fun, and it might be amusing to watch Colbert while you’re rolling a big hootie- but you’re a fool if you take this stuff for anything more.

    It leaves you in the place of Zingzing, who can’t see how Hussein trying to buy uranium is relevant to claims that he’s developing WMDs.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    In fairness, Al, Zingzing wasn’t talking about claims that Saddam Hussein was DEVELOPING WMDs. He was talking about claims that Hussein ALREADY HAD those WMD’s. There’s a significant difference.

  • zingzing

    they just switched it back again! how do you step on your own goddamn face?

  • zingzing

    al, you just proved my point… read it: “and dave, what does “trying to buy nuclear materials in the early 2000s” have to do with “we’re going to iraq because they HAVE wmds?” that’s just like bush/conservatives/etc… change your argument when it turns out you’re wrong.”

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Yeah there Zingzing, you’re just talking silly stuff now, and it’s liberal types what are going back and forth, changing their claims with the winds. The biggest central point of criticism that Bush was supposedly lying was the famous 16 words claiming that Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger. LIAR, LIAR! But in fact, those words turn out to be absolutely true, just exactly as W claimed in the SOTU.

    Now, you might still argue that going into Iraq was a bad move for a whole bunch of possible reasons- but if you’re going to be a serious participant in discussing public policy, you have to concede facts. Hussein DID have WMDs historically, pre-war intelligence from many countries indicated him having them recently (though we’ve found only very little since we’ve been there), and Hussein was in fact actively trying to develop nuclear capacity.

  • zingzing

    dude… MY POINT was that as soon as bush could no longer claim that iraq has wmds, he changed his claim to the fact that they wanted them, and that was why he went into iraq. i WASN’T talking about niger, i WASN’T talking about the sotu. i WASN’T talking about what iraq may or may not have had in the past. i WAS talking about bush changing his claims. STOP twisting what i write into something you can use. you’re just CHANGING YOUR CLAIM. STOP PROVING MY POINT!

  • RogerMDillon

    Stewart doesn’t wnat to be taken seriously. He wants his viewers to think and act seriously. There is a difference

    “it’s liberal types what are going back and forth, changing their claims with the winds.”

    When did Fleisher, Rice, and Tenet become liberal types? They changed their claims as cited above.

    But then maybe it’s much better to be like you, Al, and refuse to change even when you are proven wrong.

  • http://www.theopinionmill.com Steven Hart

    For example, Brother Blogcritic Steven Hart posits that “Colbert was after something more than just laughs.” Yeah buddy, don’t kid yourself.

    Hey buddy, your post illustrates my point perfectly. As a hardcore Thirty Percenter who believes the Iraq war is going just peachy and George W. Bush is a truthful guy, you are a collateral casualty of Stephen Colbert’s inspired performance. While his main targets were Bush’s boneheaded insularity amd the press corps’s vapid blend of smugness and timidity, Colbert was also clobbering the conservative Bizarro World view of the press as a bunch of leftists who will do anything to pull down that stalwart warrior-king Four-Handed George.

    We here in the reality-based community can only chuckle and nudge each other as you go to great lengths to dismiss Colbert as a dumb comedian who’ll say anything for a laugh. He hit you where you live, plain and simple. I see your post as a cry for help.

    Just do not pretend like you’re seriously participating in political debate. Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are mere comedians, not intellectuals whose material should be taken seriously. Colbert is not, in fact, a legitimate political commentator making rational arguments based on facts. He’s a liar and a slander artist. That’s his job.

    I think that “liar and slander artist” line is better suited to Dennis Miller. I don’t entirely subscribe to the “It’s funny because it’s true” school regarding comedy, but I do think comedy that reaches higher than slapstick or absurdism has to be grounded in recognizable truth. That’s why Dennis Miller’s show felt like a long march through Death Valley — the logical contortions and denials of reality required of Bush sycophants drained the life from his comedy.

    But what’s all this about “mere comedians”? Colbert and Jon Stewart are practitioners of a fine satiric tradition. Swift didn’t write A Modest Proposal because he wanted to gross people out with cannibalism jokes; he wanted to make the Protestant English think hard about what they were doing to the Irish Catholics. Colbert didn’t just want to be snotty to the White House press corps; he wanted to make points about the servility of White House reporters and the vacuousness of what passes for political journalism, in which a onetime hero like Bob Woodward is reduced to court stenographer for a bunch of Republican hacks who are all about as crooked as a bent snake.

    That’s why so many of them as squealing like singed pigs. That’s why so many of them are saying Colbert wasn’t funny. And that’s why I say Colbert was aiming for something even better than comedy — he was aiming for truth.

    And hitting it dead center, as your post demonstrates.

  • Evan

    Al, you said, “Stewart and Colbert do NOT do anything like make a thesis statement, and then support it with evidence and argument. They just throw all kinds of little scraps of innuendo real sly-like, and we’re supposed to just accept it because they said it.”

    Have you EVER seen an episode of either show?
    How about just last Wednesday (I think, could’ve been Tuesday or Thursday) where Stewart started to discuss the President tapping into oil reserves to “ease the pain” of consumers. Then he went on, through the use of media clips, to suggest that perhaps this was just an election ploy. Then he went on to show clips of Bush criticizing (can’t remember who, forgive me) for doing just that. Thesis, argument, proof. It’s a daily thing.

    “Now, Stewart goes on now and again about just being a comedy show, but he doesn’t believe that and he really doesn’t want us to believe it.”

    Again, that just cannot be qualified. Who are you say what he’s truly thinking?

    “Only a motard raised on a steady diet of MTV would think that Stewart or Colbert should be taken seriously.”

    If I cared what your opinion of me was, well.. then I’d care. But I don’t. So… yeah.

    “Ultimately, the whole Daily Show phenomenon is indicative of the intellectual bankruptcy of liberal opposition to Bush. They have absolutely no one with any real answer, any alternative agenda for protecting the country, or dealing with any other problem. ”

    Uhhh, how about “accountabillity”? Stewart’s been preaching that one for years.

  • ss

    Does anybody else here remember Al’s beaming post about Team America, and how full of wisdom and truth the puppet sex movie was, and how awful awfully smart and politically astute Matt and Trey are?
    I do Al.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Zing, the Plame affair had nothing to do with Iraq having WMDs, it was solely about their efforts to acquire yellowcake from Niger. It was never stated in any of the discussion of the issue or in Bush’s speech on the subject that there were active nuclear weapons in Iraq. It’s a separate concern from the chemical and biological weapons.

    The one thing all the different WMD concerns have in common is that they were used as reasons to go into Iraq, were then ‘exposed’ as unsubstantiated with lots of media attention, and have since been proven to largely have been true with virtually no media coverage.

    Dave

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    SS, yup, I think Team America is brilliant and thoughtful work. SEE HERE. Now, these guys are too humble to be acting like they’re bravely speaking truth to power, or other such self-aggrandizing nonsense.

    However, they’re working on a whole different plane intellectually from drivel like The Daily Show. Besides the content of whatever political or social message it’s attached to, the ART of South Park is about 100x anything to do with Jon Stewart.

  • nugget

    I tend to agree with Al. Jon Stewart is transparent and self-loving. He is a spoiler, rude, predictable, and a demagogue. His entire schtick is based on this principle: “Hey look at me! Remember me? I’m comfortable in front of an audience! And I smirk when I say things. Isn’t that hilarious? Isn’t it? *smirk*”

    *audience dies laughing because they think they should*

  • IHateBlogs

    The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are hilarious and have brilliant political satire.

    If you think differently, you lose credibility IMO.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Brother Hart (comment 60), again I note that it is exactly y’all liberal types who carry on about being “reality based” who are among the folks most adamantly NOT in fact dealing with reality. You’re so blindered by your ideologies that you seem to have little perception of actual reality.

    For example, consider your remarks here describing me as a “hardcore 30 percenter” desperate, fanatical Bush supporter. That’s just got no close relationship to anything I’ve ever said. Again, I note that I have never, ever voted for W or his father- ever. But you’re so eat up with your ideology that you seem to think that anyone who hasn’t drank some kool aid would of course hate W with all their soul and consider him to be a total failure and, of course, the world’s worst liar.

    But the problem there is that YOU have drunk some kind of f’d up kool aid that’s got you so blind that you don’t seem to be able to differentiate fact from fantasy.

    Look, kool aid’s dangerous. That’s why I stick to Kentucky moonshine.

  • http://thankyoustephencolbert.org Jess in DC

    While there are a multitude of arguments I could make here in your own personal “no-fact” zone, I’ll simply call out your last statement regarding “moonbat demagoguery.” As a practicing Catholic, fiscally conservative, educated-beyond-all-usefulness registered Republican, I find it amusing that you would lambast the left for “relying” on comedians to support their beliefs because (and I would agree with you if this weren’t an absolutely ridiculous assumption) this certainly does not produce rational and reflective discourse or decision making…yet you make no mention of the “conservative right’s” (far more successful) manipulation of faith and bigotry towards the same ends. It’s odd, as an academic I am by modern sentiments lumped in with the out-of-touch intellegencia according to not-really-conservatives. Can you really have it both ways? Can we moonbat demagogues simultaneously be over-educated, godless ‘fact-a-nistas’ and the people who base their political and moral decisions on comedians and celebrities? Doesn’t anyone ever call you on the complete incompatibility of these arguments? I used to be concerned that I went to mass with Newt Gingrich every Sunday, but the last few years have made me yearn for 1998.

  • http://www.theopinionmill.com Steven Hart

    Al, hey buddy, old pal, since you painstakingly avoided addressing my points about the intellectual traditions of satire embodied by Stephen Colbert, I will graciously accept your acquiesence to my argument.

    But enough of that. There’s something more important to talk about here.

    It’s all this yak about Kool-Aid and Bush-hating, Al, hey buddy. Your cliche-to-content ratio is all out of whack. The clatter and clang of prefabricated language and ideas is deafening. It’s time for an intervention.

    I recommend you stay away from any news outlet that has “Fox” in its name for at least two weeks. In fact, stay away from cable news completely. Read some Orwell — “Politics and the English Language” is a good one. Ration yourself to one cliche a day: The first time you accuse someone of drinking somebody else’s Kool-Aid, that’s it — you have to find something original to say for the rest of the day.

    Besides, it wasn’t Kool-Aid they drank at Jonestown, it was Flavor-Aid. It’s the little details that trip you up, Al hey buddy.

  • Haywood J Blowmee

    I would just like to say that to me this is not about how funny Steve was..After all, theres nothing funny about killing Iraqis and your own fellow Americans is there? If Steve were to perish tomorrow, we could all agree that the man lived!

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Actually Haywood, there’s plenty of humor to be mined from war and death- it’s a classic topic for comedy going back to Aristophanes.

    But you’re right that this story is not about how funny Colbert was, it’s about how poorly his material stands if you take it as serious political commentary, as many of his fans obviously do.

  • IgnatiusReilly

    What’s the big to-do? Al obviously finds those he agrees with politically to be brilliant and thoughtful while those he disagrees with to be liars and slander artists. I don’t get the strong reaction to this piece because he’s not much different than most, including being unaware of his own bias and not understanding those he criticizes like his misread of Brother Hart’s article.

    However, to think that Trey and Matt don’t act like they are speaking to power is naive and disingenuous. Have you not seen their show? They do it all the time and challenge everyone, which is what is refreshing about it. Although I don’t recall seeing them take on the administration, it is rather easy to do and done everywhere, so I don’t fault them.

    In regards to their art, don’t kid yourself. They are way too juvenile too often, unless you want to explain what I missed in Oprah’s minge and anus trying to escape from her body.

    On the plus side, their songs do have nice melodies.

  • Bliffle

    I thought Colbert was pretty funny. His satire was not mean and it was pretty original. For example, his comment that GWB was consistent: that what he believed on wednesday was the same belief he held on monday, no matter what happened on tuesday.

    But it was a Cold Room. I suspect that the press people were self-conscious and afraid to laugh for fear of being slighted in the future. After all, reporting on the WhiteHouse demands close contact and Certain Privilege.

    Will the liberals now start complaining about the Rightwing Mainstream Media?

  • Comedic Irony

    lol that article is pretty funny… you aren’t as good at the overbearing right wing neocon as Colbert but you have your moments… I mean you had me worried there for a second when I started taking you seriously but the bit about the uranium put it in perspective… my main criticism would be that your form of comedy is unoriginal… Colbert already does it… and really well I might add… maybe prop comedy?… anyways hopefully next time people won’t take you so seriously and see the humor you are going for

  • Duh…

    Ok, well, let’s just consider one fact about these pinko audience members that watch the daily show and colbert report.

    They are actualy more intelligent and more knowledgable about current events than people that watch news comentaries such as the O’Reilly Factor.

    Wait, what?

    THEY ARE MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT CURRENT EVENTS. Watching Fox News provides LESS NEWS than watching a Fake news show.

  • TA Dodger

    character assassination with no actual backing in reality. Note how it is precisely the most whacked lefty moonbats with little regard for facts who are the most adamant about Bush lying and how they’re “reality based”

    Sooo…. is the irony intentional or not. It’s really hard to tell sometimes.

  • ss

    Yeah, Al that kid in the wheelchair who screams
    ‘Timmy!’
    That’s pretty heady stuff. It takes real taste and intellect to appreciate that complicated take on the American’s with Disabilities Act. And Oprah’s talking minge, it was so funny it made me sorta sneer, once (though they kept going back to it for the whole show), and it was just a brilliant, really insightful commentary on what Oprah’s given up for success.
    Not everyone can appreciate the subtly of a good poop joke. It takes a special gift.
    Matt and Trey were actually funny, for about five minutes, back in the late ’90’s, in the days of Chef’s chocolate salty balls. But at even at their best, it didn’t take the singular intelligence you seem to imagine you have to appreciate a singing turd.

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    I thought Colbert was biting and insightful, and spoke truth to power in a way that–outside of Rev. Lowery–hasn’t happened during the Bush years. I’ll offend this article’s author by suggesting that anyone who has to resort to using the word “pinko” is not engaging in serious review, so I’m not going to bother with his thesis.

    “In reality, President Bush has been among the more honest presidents of recent memory”? Maybe only in his suggestion that catching a fish was the best moment of his presidency.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Dear Duh- This right here is a ridiculous and absolutely untrue statement: “They are actualy more intelligent and more knowledgable about current events than people that watch news comentaries such as the O’Reilly Factor.”

    There’s no evidence for that, and the opposite is true based on the content of the two shows. In fact, O’Reilly has a news show which does present facts. I think the guy’s a weasel, and I certainly don’t trust him for anything like a fair and balanced perspective.

    However, he’s a lot more credible than The Daily Show or Colbert. Their defenders here SAY that they know this is a fake news show, and that they just make stuff up. But in the same sentence, you say that watching this fake news makes you better informed than an actual news show. Do you want to HAVE your cake, or EAT- you can’t have both. Sure, they’re just making stuff up, but in doing so they are really speaking truth to power.

    Even blowhard O’Reilly is a more reliable news source than Colbert. Moreover, Colbert and certainly Stewart are more determinedly ideological and even less fair and balanced than O’Reilly- much less the rest of Fox or other news organizations.

    Colbert and Stewart may be mediocrities on any artistic level and six kinds of stilted and not even pretending to deal in facts, but they spew the pinko crap that you want to hear, so you smugly declare them to be the true purveyors of truth even as you release them from the responsibilities of actually telling the truth.

    CI and TA can come with this talking down at me, but notice how this plays on a purely smug presumption of superiority with no need of actual argument to justify such presumptions.

    And if you don’t appreciate the word pinko, then don’t be talking like crazed left wingnuts to provoke the usage. By the way, I have an essay on the word “pinkos” for your edification.

  • JR

    Al Barger: Dear Duh- This right here is a ridiculous and absolutely untrue statement: “They are actualy more intelligent and more knowledgable about current events than people that watch news comentaries such as the O’Reilly Factor.”

    There’s no evidence for that, and the opposite is true based on the content of the two shows. In fact, O’Reilly has a news show which does present facts. I think the guy’s a weasel, and I certainly don’t trust him for anything like a fair and balanced perspective.

    No evidence? What’s this?

    And what are your empirical methods for judging the intelligence of the audience by the content of the show? Would you also assert that people who enjoyed “Fahrenheit 9/11″ (which does present facts) are more intelligent than people who enjoyed “Dr. Strangelove” or “Blazing Saddles”?

  • ss

    O’Reilly selects the facts most likely to rile up his predominantly conservative audience and greatly exaggerates them with phrases like ‘The War on Christmas’. After all, a riled viewer is a rapt viewer.
    Comedy Central’s pretty much the same thing as Fox News, except played for laughs instead of anger.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Permit me, if I may, to paste in part of one of the articles JR links to above:

    According to independent Neilson Media Research, Stewart’s audience is better educated than O’Reilly’s and Stewart’s audience earns more than O’Reilly’s.

    The ignorant O’Reilly started the Stewart slinging match in his opening comments stating “You know what’s really frightening? You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it’s true. You’ve got stoned slackers watching your dopey show every night and they can vote.”

    What should be really scary for O’Reilly is that Stewart’s audience is more interested in the Presidential campaign than his own. “People who watch The Daily Show are more interested in the presidential campaign, more educated, younger, and more liberal than the average American or than Leno or Letterman viewers,” said Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, a senior analyst at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, who conducted the research for the report.

    “In recent years traditional journalists have been voicing increasing concern that if young people are receiving political information from late-night comedy shows like ‘The Daily Show,’ they may not be adequately informed on the issues of the day. This data suggests that these fears may be unsubstantiated” she says.

  • ss

    By the way, whatever happened to the ManCow.
    ManCow was the actual epitome of Fox News, far more than O’Reilly. I can’t believe they ditched the ManCow.
    I wonder what it’s like when the people at Fox News do some soul searching and realize ‘ya know, the whole ManCow thing… It just isn’t cute anymore.’
    Oh, and last but not least…
    South Park is basicly FM morning radio, poorly drawn. If you’d like to explain how the show with the Barbara Streisand Godzilla is on a whole other level, and a 100x ‘artier’, than the show with the guy who’s afraid of bears,
    please, I’d love to hear you try.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    The empirical basis of me judging O’Reilly viewers to be better informed than Daily Show viewers is strictly based on the content of the shows, not surveys of the viewership. O’Reilly has a show with facts, selective though they may be. I don’t put much stock in O’Reilly, but that’s still more than can be said for the Daily Show.

    Blazing Saddles and Dr Strangelove are works of fiction, clearly presented as such. The Daily Show might mouth the words of saying that they’re fiction, but their hardcore fans (as represented in this comment thread) actually take the show as representing “truth” being spoken to power. No one ever looked to Mel Brooks as a news source, famously a lot of non-news viewers DO take Colbert and Stewart as their principle news source.

    Also, it’s begging the question to make O’Reilly the point of comparison, as if he were representative of the entire Fox network or actual news sources in general. If you want to smack at Fox, then go to the main news shows on the network rather than the opinion talkshow end. Go after Brit Hume or Shepherd Smith, not O’Reilly. Even Bill O’Reilly has far more credibility as a news source than Jon Stewart- and he’s the weak link.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    The empirical basis of me judging O’Reilly viewers to be better informed than Daily Show viewers is strictly based on the content of the shows, not surveys of the viewership.

    So your method of determining how well-informed fans of each show are, is to ignore actual data on how well-informed fans of each show are?

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    No, I don’t know how well informed about what viewers of the two shows are overall- nor do I make such a claim. My point there was that people get much more actual facts about what’s going on by watching even Bill O’Reilly than they will watching The Daily Show.

    Supposedly, there are a lot of viewers who watch Stewart as their main news source. However many of them there are, they are idiots with no real knowledge of current events. I’ve never heard of anyone claiming O’Reilly as their principle news source, but such people would be far better informed that Stewart/Colbert fans.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    But Al, you’re making suppositions here that are demonstrably incorrect….oh, forget it. Neither of us is going to convince the other and it’s frankly a rather silly argument anyway.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    What suppositions of mine here are incorrect? O’Reilly is part of a NEWS network, with reporters and facts and stuff. The Daily Show is not.

    I mean this not as a defense of O’Reilly, but as an attack on the credibility of Stewart and Colbert. They SAY that they’re just making stuff up and lack credibility, while going nudge-nudge, wink-wink, we’re really telling the truth. They’re not.

  • JR

    Al Barger: What suppositions of mine here are incorrect?

    Well…

    Dear Duh- This right here is a ridiculous and absolutely untrue statement: “They are actualy more intelligent and more knowledgable about current events than people that watch news comentaries such as the O’Reilly Factor.”

    There’s no evidence for that, and the opposite is true based on the content of the two shows.

    Furthermore, why would you think you can base your estimate of the intelligence of the audience on the factual content of the show? The supposition that that constitutes a logical argument would seem unfounded, and indeed incorrect, based on the evidence presented.

    I could go on with your supposition that the Daily Show doesn’t present facts; I’ve seen facts on there. Sometimes they even preface a statement with “…and this is true…” to differentiate it from the totally unbelievable stuff that really is made up (apparently on the assumption that their audience might not believe everything they say…)

  • zingzing

    what you have to look at is the amount of people who watch o’reilly thinking it is “fair and balanced news” and then look at the amount of people who watch the daily show and think that they are watching the news. daily show watchers, being the “better informed,” according to the above study, probably realize that they are watching a comedy show (on a comedy network) and are thus seeing the “news” from an angle, while o’reilly watchers seldom realize that they are watching an “opinion talkshow,” and thus are getting slanted “facts.”

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    But Zingzing, that’s all dependent on believing that Daily Show fans are smarter or thoughtful than O’Reilly viewers. Somebody might claim that they have a study, but I’m not believing it.

    Rather, I judge more based on my personal experience. O’Reilly draws an audience, but not seemingly so much in the way of followers. I’ve never, ever seen an O’Reilly watcher gush on about how he’s got it all figured out. But just look at how some of these Stewart/Colbert fans are carrying on about speaking truth to power and other such nonsense.

    The direct evidence I see indicates that Stewart/Colbert are peddling some really dumb kool aid- moreso by far than O’Reilly.

  • JR

    Al Barger writes: In the real world of America 2006 though, it is the Bush haters — the core cheering section for Stewart and Colbert — who are most clearly getting their truth from down deep in their guts rather than anything to do with external evidence.

    Then:

    Somebody might claim that they have a study, but I’m not believing it.

    Rather, I judge more based on my personal experience.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Yes JR, my own experience will tend to count more than someone else’s so-called studies. If someone claims to have a study proving something contrary to my experience, I’ll tend to be hard to convince. It’ll take more than someone claiming in a blog thread that they have a study proving something for me to be convinced that it’s true and meaningful if it goes strongly against my experience.

    Again, read this thread, the kool aid drinkers and fools are all Daily Show fans, not O’Reilly watchers. That’s an observation of facts and evidence, not a feeling from down in my gut. I’ve never ever seen anyone chauvinistically defending O’Reilly like some of these Daily Show fans. You want me to believe that they’re all independent thinkers, and the O’Reilly watchers are sheep? My experience suggests exactly the opposite.

  • ss

    You haven’t seen anyone chauvinistically defending O’Reilly- Lately.
    Colbert is often compared to O’Reilly because Bill is the most high profile of the type of ‘journalist’ Colbert set out to deflate.
    I know alot of conservatives, Al, and there was a time when their love affair with the likes of Rush and O’Reilly was pretty open.
    Most distance themselves from those hacks these days, or add qualifiers that they never used to.
    That’s because the medicine show has been discredited, not by the real journalists, and certainly not by Democratic pols.
    O’Reilly has finally been relegated to the status he always deserved because of Cobert showing, and mocking, the mechanism O’Reilly works by at exactly the same time as the plunge in Republican poll nummbers. I’m not saying Cobert caused the plunge, the Republicans did that to themselves. Moderates will forgive alot for a tax cut, including the Duke’s bribery scandals. But partisan bickering WITHIN party ranks (Meyers nomination, immigration, ports deal) while the country suffers from bad management (slow rescue operations after Katrina, insurgents still killing Iraqis and US soldiers, high gas prices), that really pisses’m off.

  • zingzing

    christ, al… what is your world called? the land without a past? do you write your own dictionaries and encyclopedias? create your own languages? alphabets…

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    I think everyone here knows the difference between a live horse and a dead horse. Please stop whipping the latter.

    The mere fact that people think comparing and contrasting the audience intelligence of Fox News against Comedy Central, and claiming one makes one “better informed” leads me to think they need to get out more.

    The Daily Show and the Colbert Report are FAKE news, a satarical take on the real events and the media…they are under absolutely NO OBLIGATION to tell the truth, to NOT make stuff up, or to present anything factual, fair or balanced. The mere fact that you are huffing and puffing over their bon fides makes it apparent that you don’t have a clue. They are comedy shows! As Jon Stewart himself put it in his infamous Crossfire appearance “The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.”

    The entire point of both shows is to bring to light the nature of the news – both the makers of the news and the presenters of the news (namely the media) AND HOLD THEM UP TO RIDICULE. It is anti-authoritrianism (I probably spelled that wrong…) that is the mainstay of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.

    Do some people get all their news from The Daily Show? Probably. Just as there are some people who readily accept the pre-formed, bite-sized pablum that Fox spews daily.

    If you have any serious interest in the world around you, you draw your information from multiple sources and keep an inate sense of skepticism about the nature of government and media. For all its faults (and the occasional lame Scooby-Doo joke), The Daily Show and the Colbert Report help feed that sense of question and skepticism.

    So yes – obviously – FOX provides “more news and more facts” then The Daily Show…it also provides more then my son’s morning cartoon show also – Should we compare them too?

    As shocking as it might be, some of us can watch and appreciate The Daily Show and The Colbert Report without believing it is anything more significant then trenchant, biting satire of the world and its news.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    SS, I think there are a lot of conservatives who would openly say – from the very beginning – that O’Reilly isn’t one of them. If you look at his positions in specific they don’t match those of any typical conservative agenda. The mere fact that he’s conservative on some social issues, mostly because he’s a catholic, doesn’t mean that he isn’t still pretty moderate to liberal on a lot of other political and economic issues.

    Dave

  • JR

    Al Barger: Again, read this thread, the kool aid drinkers and fools are all Daily Show fans, not O’Reilly watchers. That’s an observation of facts and evidence, not a feeling from down in my gut. I’ve never ever seen anyone chauvinistically defending O’Reilly like some of these Daily Show fans. You want me to believe that they’re all independent thinkers, and the O’Reilly watchers are sheep? My experience suggests exactly the opposite.

    You know much about sampling error? Aside from the fact that the poll CNN cited had over 19,000 responses, it’s pretty clear that the relatively small number of responses here is selected for people baited into responding by your obvious bias. (A bias which it is easy to believe also colors the rest of your experience.)

    Again, I’m not impressed by your methods for determining objective reality. You’ve made it clear what you believe; what’s in it for me? Why should I believe you over Nielson Media Research or the Annenburg Public Policy Center?

  • ss

    I’m not a regular viewer, but I have seen O’Reilly’s show. He may not fit into the groups Republican strategists identify as subsets of the conservative movement, but he is a professional yellow journalist and left-baiter. That’s why his show is on Fox News, and why it’s the most popular one (or up there, anyway) on that network.

  • Roscoe collins

    he is funny but im tired af all these liberal deushbags controling the media. they only have 1 democratic view and never explore the views of other people

  • Scott Butki

    Al,put a link to your column and to the Colbert video at my
    new piece on the Daily Show.

    Roscoe, you’re kidding, right?

  • MCH

    “he is funny but im tired af all these liberal deushbags controling the media.”

    Yeah really, those liberal deushbags are far worse than those conservative cheekenhocks…

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Thank you, Brother Butki.