Colbert vs. Bush

There's been a lot of buzz about this battle, but this post on boingboing convinced me to say something.

Colbert was in fact funny. Colbert did rip into the Bush administration. That's side one of the story. Side two is that Bush was funnier, and also ripped into the Bush administration. Liberal bias? Vast right wing conspiracy?

I look at this in a couple of ways.

  • Because of the hype about Colbert and the internet viewing, people missed Bush's routine immediately beforehand. Also, many read the transcript instead of watching, which prevented them from seeing Colbert's painfully slow delivery. So to these people, Colbert was funny, and satirical. Compared to Bush though, he was sort-of funny, and only a little harsher than the man himself.
  • The media are in fact lap dogs, and were incredibly worried about how harsh Colbert was to the president. This is why few laughed at Colbert's speech, and fewer still commented on it.  The people who organized this event clearly knew what Colbert is about, so they shouldn't have been surprised by a speech that repeated lines from his show verbatim.

I think the first option is closer to the truth. I'm a fan of Colbert, and not a fan of Bush, but I was feeling like a flipflop after watching them in action. Colbert was a schtick, and not particularly original. He rehashed comments from his show. His best jokes were clever, witty ones, not good hearty laugh inspiring.

All the talk about media bias is too generalized to get the point. It's not a left wing or right wing bias, its both biases interacting in complex ways. Al Franken's book 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them' looks at the issue in meticulous detail, coming to the conclusion that, although most of the foot soldiers of the media, the journalists, are left wing in their own thinking, the media's tone is set by the editors and producers, who are usually right wing. That doesn't mean that article's arent written leftish, it means they get corrected to the right. So if the conservative bias was in effect, the liberals would have been laughing at the dinner, and then not publishing after it. But nobody was laughing. Colbert just wasn't funny.


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