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,
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
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
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.
A final thought: Bush's clownish banter with reporters - which is on constant
display during press conferences - stands in such stark contrast to his administration's
destructive policies and to the gravity of the bloodbath in Iraq that it is
deeply unsettling to watch. This may be impolitic, but wouldn't refraining from
frat-style horseplay be appropriate for this man? Or at the least, can't reporters
suppress their raucous laughter every time he blurts out another jibe... the
way they did when Colbert put them in their place?
UPDATE: Elisabeth Bumiller, Bush-propper extraordinaire,
brings the NY Times aboard the ignore-Colbert
Media coverage of the Bush/Colbert show
by Eli Stephens
i on the news
There's been a rather interesting followup to the White House Correspondent's
Dinner.. I have seen multiple times, on multiple channels, clips of the George
Bush/Steve Bridges tandem "double-W" performance, which was
funny, certainly. I have seen no clips, none,
of Stephen Colbert's performance. And it's not as if Colbert's bits all had
long-setups. Some did, but there were plenty of one-liners that were "clip-worthy"
(e.g., the one cited
about the President's constant beliefs, facts be damned).
I'm not going to the trouble of providing links, but in a variety of print
coverage I've seen, virtually all of it has also dwelt either exclusively or
predominantly on the Bush duo bit, although that was much shorter
than Colbert's routine. The press simply doesn't want to touch that Colbert
material with a ten-foot pole. USA
Today was practically the only paper I looked at that had extensive
coverage of Colbert's routine, but even there it was subordinated to the Bush
routine, and ended with this curious sentence: "He then showed a clip in
which he fielded questions by the press corps, only to wind up running from
the building chased by veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas."
Notice anything missing? Like the word "Iraq"? Which was, after all,
the entire point of that bit.
to video of the Colbert performance at the White House