Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mr. Colbert Goes to Washington - Updated

Stephen Colbert created a media obsession yesterday with his testimony to Congress on migrant labor. Of course, the usual outraged suspects in the GOP and their media arm Fox News is apoplectic over Colbert's perfomance. But let's not look back to 2005 when these same people thought it was just fine for a fiction writer, Michael Crichton, to offer "expert" testimony on climate disruption.

The Village media in general is just about as outraged at Colbert's "stunt." Chuck Todd announced on twitter that he was offended. Of course twitter immediately responded with a big FU Chuckie. You offend us too, you sorry excuse for a journalist. Meanwhile, public consensus seems to be Colbert brought attention to an important issue that the media wasn't covering anyway and so what if Colbert stayed in character and made a mockery of a process that is the very definition of a joke no matter who is is testifying? Jake Tapper appeared to think that this didn't so much bring attention to the issue as it did to Colbert and Congress personally.

Jake may deny he feels that way, since he conveyed the thought via a retweet, but as I asked him, did anybody in the tradmed air a report on the substance of Colbert's remarks instead of the optics of his appearance and the reaction of the perpetually outraged politicos? He ignored me of course, and in a way he is right. Because the media won't do their job and focus on more than the one-liner about gay Iowans, the issue probably won't get the attention it deserves.

But the onus isn't on Colbert. While it's true he did stay in character, he also gave some serious testimony that the media wilfully ignores. But that's the media failure, not Colbert's. And at least the issue is coming up peripherally to the shallow coverage. That's more than it had before.

Update: I guess google alerts must be pretty thorough. Can hardly believe he saw this post. Jake Tapper tweeted me and objected to my implication that he might agree with his retweets. He advises he didn't cover the story. Says he didn't answer my tweet because he was on the road and had no idea what the general coverage was and says he tweeted twice, one that liked Colbert's testimony and one that didn't. Here are the two retweets in question:
RT @DVNJr: Colbert stunt brought more attention to migrant worker issue than 1000 hearings would have. Who else testified today? Exactly.

RT @andylevy No, he didn't. He brought attention to Stephen Colbert and to Congress.
Maybe I'm misreading the retweets, but they both sound like they imply Colbert's testimony was a stunt. But to be fair, Jake very clearly states on his twitter profile that retweets are not to be read as agreement and he says he has no position on the testimony. I shouldn't have implied that he did.

On a separate note, I saw a tweet this morning that someone did a piece about how unemployed workers still won't work on the farm. Of course, I promptly lost the link, but it seems to indicate that Colbert's testimony may well generate some substantive coverage of the problem. So there's that...

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Anonymous Ruth said...

Unfortunately, the committee members stayed in character; Steve King began by insisting that Eskimos don't get fruit and veggies, and that proves we don't need them anyway.

9:29:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That's the real point isn't it? Our "governing" class is a much bigger joke than Colbert could ever hope to be.

10:10:00 AM  

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