A couple of notes to add to yesterday’s gathering fumes. I see my old friend Chris Lehmann has written at length about the Colbert routine, and as usual it’s a smart and biting essay worthy of his best work back in the day at Suck. Still, I think he’s wrong. So is this guy. It may be true that Colbert was not belly-laugh funny–I certainly trust Lehmann more than anyone else on this judgement from ground zero–but that is entirely not the point. I don’t know of anyone who is complaining this week about side-ache from laughing uncontrollably; the point is that Colbert scored an almost perfect game in political whack-a-mole. And those who idiotically claim that Colbert “bullied” the president or the press had better look up “irony” in that unused Webster’s over there. It continues to amaze me how few people see what Colbert is really up to–a straight-up parody of Fox TV’s Bill O’Reilly. It’s sort of the televisual equivalent of what The Onion has done to/with USA Today all these many years–just follow the recipe, and double the hyperbole.
Anyway, this whole episode points up to me the disparity between media professional’s perception of an event and the general public’s. It’s a relatively rare atmospheric phenomena, but like the Green Flash, interesting when it happens. Other than Woolcott, I don’t think I have yet read another “media professional” who saw what I saw at the WHC dinner.
Last night, when I cranked up the old AOL dial-up from home, I was confronted with one of AOL’s clever little serial surveys. This one presented five of Colbert’s jokes, and asked subscribers to give them the thumbs up or the thumbs down. Now, I don’t want to make broad generalizations about how lame and mainstream AOL home subscribers like me are–but the voting looked like a massacre. Ten to one, AOLers approved of Colbert’s jokes, every one of them. What was that you were saying about the “media elites” in this country? I’m listening now.