Article: After Press Dinner, the Blogosphere Is Alive With the Sound of Colbert Chatter

Bushcolbert
From the May 3rd NYT. Bush gets roasted at Press Corps dinner and it gets completely filtered out by the mainstream media… is this because they are scared of getting their access to the administration cut off, something they need for their careers and their publications advertising revenue?

From the May 2nd WPO: “The traditional media’s first reaction to satirist Stephen Colbert’s uncomfortably harsh mockery of President Bush and the press corps at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Association dinner was largely to ignore it.”

Bush’s supporters try to prevent you from watching the video… yup, censorship. Read this:

From news.com: “On YouTube.com, the leading upload site that lets users showcase homemade videos, at least a half dozen clips of Colbert’s performance were posted following the dinner. The video, first broadcast by C-SPAN, quickly generated enough traffic and comments to take up a position on both the Web site’s most-viewed and most-discussed videos sections. Combined, the various clips generated more than a half million viewings before YouTube removed them Wednesday at the request of C-SPAN, which said the airing of the video violated its copyright, according to Julie Supan, YouTube spokeswoman. Plenty of other sites still carried the video on Wednesday night, including iFilm.”

I couldn’t get that iFilm site to work, but I did find the video on Salon.com’s Video Dog web page. Here’s the direct link that worked for me.

From salon.com: “The real sign of Stephen Colbert’s success at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner wasn’t his jokes — which, from beginning to end, were spot-on, from Bush’s handling of the war (“I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq”) and his low-30s approval rating (“I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68 percent approve of the job he’s not doing?”) to sidelong whacks at John McCain, Fox News and Donald Rumsfeld, among others. And no, it wasn’t the grim-looking handshake he received from the president or the icy glare he received from Laura Bush that let us know that Colbert hit his targets. The proof of his accuracy lies in how badly the Tracy Flicks of the Washington press corps reacted. After all, this wasn’t the baby-soft slapstick they usually get at the correspondents’ dinner. (Anyone else remember when Darrell Hammond got all gushy from meeting Bush in person in 2001? Yeesh.) Sure, C-SPAN’s cameras captured a few journalists tittering at each other like naughty schoolgirls, but for the most part journalists sat on their hands –- while just moments before, they were laughing uproariously at President Bush’s incredibly lame skit with a Bush impressionist. That was Colbert’s real feat: Showing us the real Washington media world, where everyone worries so much about offending someone, anyone, that the least bit of frank talk turns them into obedient little church mice. (Below is his opening monologue. To see his skit — and icy exchange with the Bushes — see here.)”

Click through to read the NYT article:


After Press Dinner, the Blogosphere Is Alive With the Sound of Colbert Chatter
By JACQUES STEINBERG

Mark Smith, a reporter for The Associated Press who is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, acknowledges that he had not seen much of Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central before he booked him as the main entertainment for the association’s annual black-tie dinner on Saturday night. But he says he knew enough about Mr. Colbert — “He not only skewers politicians, he skewers those of us in the media” — to expect that he would cause some good-natured discomfort among the 2,600 guests, many of them politicians and reporters.

What Mr. Smith did not anticipate, he said, was that Mr. Colbert’s nearly 20-minute address would become one of the most hotly debated topics in the politically charged blogosphere. Mr. Colbert delivered his remarks in character as the Bill O’Reillyesque commentator he plays on “The Colbert Report,” although this time his principal foil, President Bush, was just a few feet away.

“There was nothing he said where I would have leapt up to say, ‘Stop,’ ” said Mr. Smith, who introduced Mr. Colbert and sat near him on the dais. “I thought he was very funny,” Mr. Smith added, though there was hardly consensus on that point yesterday.

At issue was a heavily nuanced, often ironic performance by Mr. Colbert, who got in many licks at the president — on the invasion of Iraq, on the administration’s penchant for secrecy, on domestic eavesdropping — with lines that sounded supportive of Mr. Bush but were quickly revealed to be anything but. And all this after Mr. Colbert tried, at the outset, to soften up the president by mocking his intelligence, saying that he and Mr. Bush were “not so different,” by which he meant, he explained, “we’re not brainiacs on the nerd patrol.”

“Now I know there’s some polls out there saying this man has a 32-percent approval rating,” Mr. Colbert said a few moments later. “But guys like us, we don’t pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking ‘in reality.’ And reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

That line got a relatively warm laugh, but many others were met with near silence. In one such instance, he criticized reporters for likening Mr. Bush’s recent staff changes to “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” “This administration is not sinking,” Mr. Colbert said; “this administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.”

In an online survey begun yesterday, the snarky Web site Gawker sought to boil down the matter to its essence by asking readers to vote on whether they thought Mr. Colbert’s performance, broadcast live on C-Span and since then widely available on the Internet, was “one of the most patriotic acts I’ve witnessed of any individual” or “not really that funny.”

Meanwhile, on its Web site, the trade journal Editor & Publisher posted more than a dozen letters from readers under a headline that reflected the broad range of electronic opinion: “Colbert Offensive, Colbert Mediocre, Colbert a Hero, Colbert Vicious, Colbert Brave.” Mr. Colbert’s employer, Comedy Central, said it had received nearly 2,000 e-mail messages by Monday morning — a response, it said, rivaled only by the contentious appearance nearly two years ago of Jon Stewart, Mr. Colbert’s comedy patron, on the now-defunct CNN shout-fest “Crossfire.”

Others chided the so-called mainstream media, including The New York Times, which ignored Mr. Colbert’s remarks while writing about the opening act, a self-deprecating bit Mr. Bush did with a Bush impersonator.

Some, though, saw nothing more sinister in the silence of news organizations than a decision to ignore a routine that, to them, just was not funny.

“I’m a big Stephen Colbert fan, a huge Bush detractor, and I think the White House press corps has been out to lunch for much of the last five years,” Noam Scheiber wrote by way of introduction on the New Republic’s Web site. But a few lines later he said: “I laughed out loud maybe twice during Colbert’s entire 20-odd minute routine. Colbert’s problem, blogosphere conspiracy theories notwithstanding, is that he just wasn’t very entertaining.”

In addition to the challenge of coming after the president and his doppelgänger, Mr. Colbert struggled to find common comedic ground in a room that included politicians across the ideological spectrum, as well as reporters and Hollywood stars. In that sense, he was in good company: many of his recent predecessors — who have included Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Leno, Mr. Stewart, Ray Romano and Al Franken — were knocked, at least in some quarters, for falling flat.

“It’s very, very tricky,” Mr. Franken, a Democrat who played the dinner twice during the Clinton years but was not there on Saturday, said in an interview. “I thought that what Stephen did was very admirable.”

Mary Matalin, a Republican who has served the Bush White House as assistant to the president and counselor to the vice president, had a different take.

“This was predictable, Bush-bashing kind of humor,” Ms. Matalin, who was there, said in an interview. Of Mr. Colbert, she said, “Because he is who he is, and everyone likes him, I think this room thought he was going to be more sophisticated and creative.”

Mr. Colbert declined through a “Colbert Report” spokeswoman to comment yesterday. Similarly, another Colbert target, Mr. Bush’s spokesman, Scott McClellan, said he had no comment, including on reports that Mr. Bush had appeared irritated by the end of Mr. Colbert’s speech.

“We’ll let others be the entertainment critics,” Mr. McClellan said by phone from the White House. “I know better than to insert myself into that one.”

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