colbert.jpgI have a new hero. Stephen Colbert is a comedian. He has a show called “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central in which he takes the persona of a right-wing Fox-news-like journalist to present fake-real news and interview celebrities and politicians. I don’t actually watch his show, but I’ve seen him before in “The Daily Show”, another “fake news” show in which he worked as a correspondant for several years. These shows are comedies, that’s why they are in Comedy Central. They cover the irony and ridiculousness of news stories, but their genious is that they do it seriously (or at least pretending to be serious). It’s a sad statement on the state of the news media today, that what they cover is often more relevant and their opinions are more respected than that of the general news media.
For some unfanthomable reason, Stephen Colbert was invited to be a speaker at the White House Correspondents Dinner. At the dinner, which is attended by white house and other correspondents, media moguls and people who have made news – in addition the President (yes, Bush), guests “roast” the President. A roast is a strange American tradition in which peole ridicule the guest of honor. I didn’t watch the whole show, but apparently most of the speakers did so in a mild and welcoming way.
Stephen Colbert was left to the last, and he was clearly nervous when he started. As well as he should have been, for he proceeded to make what is probably the strongest and most direct indictment of the President’s policies and positions that anyone has ever made to Bush’s face. He did all of this in character, pretending to be a patriotic, Bush-loving Fox-like politican – and he did so amazingly away. Colbert took Bush to task on global warming, wiretapping, secret detention centers, the war in Iraq, his lack of concern for facts or reality and other matters; he also took on the press – his hosts – for the carte blanche they’ve given the president. And he did this standing up only a few feet from the President.
That must have taken a lot of courage, the kind of courage most of the press does not have. And it didn’t have it that night. Even though the jokes were hillarious most of them only laughed quietly and nervously, if at all. The President and the First Lady looked uncomfortable as did pretty much everyone else – except for White House correspondent Helen Thomas.
You can read more about the show, including some of the jokes at
Interestingly, while the news media covered the dinner – it barely mentioned Colbert’s speech.
But I take my hat off to him for having the courage to speak the truth to a man everyone else keeps in the dark.
You can watch the show and thank him at