Update: Newshounds has a rundown of O’Reilly’s limp response.
This feels like a turning point. In a speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last Saturday, Stephen Colbert (of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report“) served the president and Washington Press their linguistic asses and forced them to lick the plate clean.
In a speech almost unanimously underplayed in the mainstream media since the event (the New York Times completely ignored it, preferring instead to focus on George W. Bush’s artless lampooning of his own speech patterns), Colbert praised Bush for thinking with his gut, rather than his brain. He sarcastically attacked the “factinista” and dismissed Bush’s 32% approval rating as being based on “reality”: “And reality has a well-known liberal bias”.
It was a fun routine, and would have been pretty edgy had it been screened on TV as part of the Colbert Report. But the fact that this performance was directed at Mr. Bush’s face with complete sincerity makes it a slam-dunk to everyone frustrated by the inability of the Washington Press to hold the US administration to task for its repeated lies, failures and hypocrisy.
The speech must present something of a conundrum for media commentators (particularly the conservative ones), given that Colbert has pulled the rug from under their schtick. Do they draw attention to the speech and attempt to rebut it, or try to ignore it and so reduce the fallout? After all, it makes them looks like fools. Much will depend on the media penetration of the news and footage of the speech – if the mainstream media can keep it marginalised or buried, then the Hannity’s of the world may get away with a passing dismissal or nothing at all.
The alternative is a higher profile debate. But to have that, we have to watch the video. So, enough from me: Go watch it.
Analysis from Salon.com and Editor & Publisher. Dismissal from Michelle Malkin, Ace. Complete ignorance from the New York Times.