Bush Skewered; press downplays it
Colbert Does the White House Correspondents' dinner:
Was he snubbed? Stephen Colbert spoke tonight at the dinner and lampooned pretty much everything he could think of and Helen Thomas. I used the second half of his performance because it included the Generals, Scalia, the Faux press briefing and as E&P reported:
"As he walked from the podium the president and First Lady gave Colbert quick nods, unsmiling, and left. E&P's Joe Strupp, in the crowd, observed that quite a few felt the material was, perhaps, uncomfortably biting."
Video-WMP (low res) Video QT (it's a big file)
"Colbert complained that he was "surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides-the president's side and the vice president's side."
He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, as well as " Valerie Plame." Then, pretending to be worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, "Uh, I mean... Joseph Wilson's wife." He asserted that it might be okay, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was probably not there.
Colbert's show on Comedy Central, is "Must See TV" at this point already and these types of performances are the toughest in the business to pull off when he's tackling issues that obviously made most of the crowd nervous.
C-Span is running it again in its entirety.
Peter Daou has an excellent piece at the Huffington Post which discusses the mainstream media's reaction to Bush's reaction to his being roasted.
He says, in part:
Mash at dKos says, "Standing at the podium only a few feet from President Bush, Colbert launched an all out assault on the policies of this Administration. It was remarkable, though painful at times, to watch. It may also have been the first time that anyone has been this blunt with this President. By the end of Colbert's routine, Bush was visibly uncomfortable. Colbert ended with a video featuring Helen Thomas repeatedly asking why we invaded Iraq. That is a question President Bush has yet to answer to the American public. I am not sure what kind of review Stephen Colbert's performance will get in the press. One thing is however certain - his performance was important and will reverberate."
It appears Mash's misgivings about press coverage are well-placed. The AP's first stab at it and pieces from Reuters and the Chicago Tribune tell us everything we need to know: Colbert's performance is sidestepped and marginalized while Bush is treated as light-hearted, humble, and funny. Expect nothing less from the cowardly American media. The story could just as well have been Bush and Laura's discomfort and the crowd's semi-hostile reaction to Colbert's razor-sharp barbs. In fact, I would guess that from the perspective of newsworthiness and public interest, Bush-the-playful-president is far less compelling than a comedy sketch gone awry, a pissed-off prez, and a shell-shocked audience.
This is the power of the media to choose the news, to decide when and how to shield Bush from negative publicity. Sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of commission. And speaking of a sycophantic media establishment bending over backwards to accommodate this White House and to regurgitate pro-GOP and anti-Dem spin, I urge readers to pick up a copy of Eric Boehlert's new book, Lapdogs. It's a powerful indictment of the media's timidity during the Bush presidency. Boehlert rips away the facade of a "liberal media" and exposes the invertebrates masquerading as journalists who have allowed and enabled the Bush administration's many transgressions to go unchecked, under-reported, or unquestioned.
A final thought: Bush's clownish banter with reporters - which is on constant display during press conferences - stands in such stark contrast to his administration's destructive policies and to the gravity of the bloodbath in Iraq that it is deeply unsettling to watch. This may be impolitic, but wouldn't refraining from frat-style horseplay be appropriate for this man? Or at the least, can't reporters suppress their raucous laughter every time he blurts out another jibe... the way they did when Colbert put them in their place?
I think that he is right. Remember how the press covered the reaction of the crowd at the Washington Nationals home opener to Cheney throwing out the first pitch? Cheney was very strongly booed, but the press downplayed it.
Post Quietly Alters Story on Cheney Boos
The Washington Post story before:
The first pitch of the Washington Nationals’ second season at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium was low and away, bouncing in the dirt before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider. For that, Vice President Cheney received a round of boos from the home crowd this afternoon.
Actually, as the video documents, the booing started from the moment Cheney hit the field and continued until he left. After protests by Americablog and Firedoglake, The Washington Post has changed their copy:
Vice President Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a right-handed toss that bounced in the dirt to the outside of the plate before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider. Cheney, booed by some as he walked to the mound, got even more catcalls after his throw — a far cry from President Bush’s fastball at last year’s home opener.
The new version is more accurate, but still clings to the notion that a significant amount of the booing was in response to the quality of Cheney’s throw. It’s contradicted by the Post’s own Reliable Source column which reports Cheney “drew boisterous boos from the moment he stepped on the field until he jogged off.”