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The Colbert Report

Television | Colbert carries water for liberals -- and dumps it on conservatives

Issue: "Malaria: Kill or be killed," Oct. 29, 2005

The Daily Show uses the evening-news format as a vehicle for political satire. But it is just like the evening news in its political bias, carrying water for liberals and pouring it all over conservatives. Its new spin-off, The Colbert Report (Comedy Central), takes aim at TV journalism itself.

Host and humorist Stephen Colbert nails the mannerisms of TV anchors, taking off his glasses and weighting the moment by turning from one camera to the other.

Much of the satire applies to all news shows. "Like any good newsman," Mr. Colbert says, "I believe that if you aren't scared, I'm not doing my job." He then goes into a list of the top threats to America (e.g., avian flu, international basketball, early toilet training, hurricanes using Greek letters instead of American letters, James Brady's anti-gun pamphlets). He mocks too the self-importance that TV newsmen often project, their blend of egotism and false humility, along with their do-gooder pretensions ("we have a whole big world to fix").

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But his real target is Fox News and, specifically, Bill O'Reilly. The Colbert Report apes the brightly colored sets and the pro-American rhetoric of Fox News, and Mr. Colbert lampoons Mr. O'Reilly's populism, his "Talking Point" memos, and other bits.

The general theme is that conservatives are irrational ("knowing with their hearts"), whereas liberals are smart ("thinking with their brains"). Since liberals have usually been the touchy-feely ones, perhaps this signals a positive shift in left-wing ideology. But what we are left with is more conservative bashing, a characteristic mannerism of TV journalism that escapes satire.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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