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L. Brent Bozell
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Colbert's Campus Coddlers


On July 9, Washington Post media reporter Paul Farhi composed a puff piece to honor Stephen Colbert, "fake news" commentator and satirical fake conservative. It turns out Colbert is becoming an "obsession in academia," with a new collegiate submersion in "Truthinessology."

Let us agree that he can be very funny. Let's also agree that his satire being taken seriously by academia says something about the state of academia.

It also says something about those in the press who agree. Farhi winked in his story that this obsession is a problem, but then unfurled a long list of academic tributes. Parents are now paying tens of thousands of dollars each year for their children to skateboard around boring old Aristotle and Locke and instead immerse themselves in the study of smirking liberal TV wise-crackers.

Colbert, we are told, is a television icon already, like CBS legend Edward R. Murrow. This would be more upsetting if Murrow weren't in reality one partisan hack in a long line of truth-mangling CBS News partisan hacks.

Professor Geoffrey Baym proclaimed, "I'm sure there are still a lot more books out there on CBS News and Edward R. Murrow, but you could argue that the emergence of satire news at this level is an important phenomenon that I don't think we still completely understand." Baym wrote a book titled "From Cronkite to Colbert: The Evolution of Broadcast News."

Maybe we don't understand because it's nonsensical. I get it that liberals believe in evolution, but do they really think journalism is growing more profound by transforming from long-form documentaries on migrant workers to Colbert's self-promotional, punchline-packed congressional testimony on migrant workers?

Apparently, they do.

This is Baym's dustcover Colbert-smooching: "'From Cronkite to Colbert' makes the case that rather than fake news, those shows should be understood as a new kind of journalism, one that has the potential to save the news and reinvigorate the conversation of democracy in today's society."

Translation: We had to destroy the news in order to save it.

Baym noted that there are "still a lot more books" on Murrow and CBS, but Amazon will quickly assemble for its consumers a wagonload of fake-news flattery oozing out of supposedly sober academe:

— "The Stewart/Colbert Effect: Essays on the Real Impacts of Fake News" (with Jon Stewart and Colbert on the cover);

— "And Nothing but the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert" (Colbert on the cover);

— "The Daily Show and Rhetoric: Arguments, Issues, and Strategies" (Stewart on the cover)

— "Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era" (Colbert on the cover);

— "Entertaining Politics: Satiric Television and Political Engagement" (Stewart and Barack Obama on the cover).

This is a partial list (one mostly different from a Post list of treatises). Farhi reported, "The college crowd says Colbert is worthy of study because his single-character political satire is unique in the annals of television. His character, an egomaniacal right-wing gasbag, connects him to a long Western satirical tradition going all the way back to the Roman poet Horace and the ancient Greek playwright Sophocles."

Obviously, these educators wouldn't insult the ancient Romans and Greeks to make comparisons to a conservative topical comedian like Dennis Miller. Professor Don Waisanen analyzed Miller after his turn to the right and lamented that he was "disoriented" and his humor was destined to "neuter socio-political action."

Professors, being professorial, add gravitas to the unbearable lightness of their comedic heroes by applying jargon, explaining that Colbert and Stewart ably employ "parodic polyglossia," "satirical specificity" and "contextual clash" to evoke both laughter and social change.

Farhi even found one super-fan: Penn State Professor Sophia McClennen. McClennen compares Colbert to Ben Franklin and Mark Twain as one of the greatest satirists in our nation's entire 236-year history and argues that "our democracy is in a tough spot now, when corporations are exercising increasing power over government, and that Colbert captures this moment as they did."

I bet even Colbert laughed at that.

As much as liberals claim to treasure irony, McClennen didn't grasp that Colbert is "exercising increasing power over government" through a large media corporation called Viacom. This corporation's greedy devotion to the bottom line led them to spit on those obsessed academics who watch Colbert and Stewart via satellite on DirecTV. Viacom not only cut off 20 million subscribers to DirecTV after a failed attempt to wring an estimated $1 billion in additional carriage fees, but they removed online streaming of full episodes on the Comedy Central website.

After all, applying "parodic polyglossia" to promote progressive politics is only worthwhile if a corporation is maximizing their profits. That is certainly a "contextual clash" the academics were not expecting.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



4 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;...Two of the greatest philosophers America, Abraham Lincoln, and Samual Clemens could also see the funny side of life... When you can no longer laugh at the injury we do ourselves only because we think of ourselves as some how distinct from the others we would injure with out consequence, your tears will never cease... The greatest unknown philosopher of all time said: what goes around, comes around... Clearly, each society and all societies are closed systems... Humanity is a single thing... We cannot kick humanity, or our own society without feeling kicked... That class that intends to ride all of humanity to party in private is missing the most wonderful feeling of connection, and are in fact, outlaws -even when they run their respective places... If they are called humanitarians when they steal a hundred dollars and give back ten cents; who do they think they are fooling???
If it were not all a joke, like a slave master selling his own flesh and blood into bondage being like a cake of immorality frosted with infamy, what would we have to laugh at??? People crap in the water their children have to drink... Are they privilaged with the knowledge that the world is doomed to end inside of their lifetime, that no life equals no meaning, and all accounts will be closed??? In the long run we are all dead; and nothing will mean nothing....If it did mean something; and if real human beings had to suffer the life long injury we do them; wouldn't that be sad???...
That small step from the sublime to the ludicrous is often only one of perspective...When you realize how often the rich envy the poor for their wealth, for the courage with which they face uncertainty, for their resolve against insecurity, for their hope, then the world seems macabre...But when you notice how many poor pity the rich their riches, and see through their smiles to the empty, vapid lives beyond whose void can only be endured when stuffed with loot the situation seem bizaar...If you could empty out a madhouse and put the inmates in charge of society we could not be worse off, but the situation is allowed because it was allowed and we have grown up with it allowed and cannot consider another... And I must confess that the weirdness of it all is perplexing, but I know if the master was suddenly made servant and the servant made master the situation would not be substancially changed... A begger in the saddle would ride the horse to death, which is a part of the problem, that slaves make the worst masters, and people who are slaves to their immorality are unfit for democracy... You may as well be rode to death by one as by another... That is why I like dogs... They make better humans than humans often make of each other...
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:02 AM
The thing is that Colbert and Stewart report on real news that taking place. Then they put a funny spin on it. This article implies that the shows are entirely fictional. Thats not true. There is real news being reported. If that blows this guys mind, all the better. I'm not cleaning his brains off the wall.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:43 AM
Re: Chris McCoy;... Sir... If he had a brain to blow, I would clean up most of it and frame the rest as a keepsake...
It seems to me that in Shakespeare's day they made satire illegal, but it only made the bard write it all the better... Powerlessness is the cause of Satire... When you have the feeling words do not touch their target why not make them sharp and give them a barb... Say what you will... This is Chinatown, and the rich do as they please, and if they care to own it, they already do... Why not blast them with words, since all else is illegal???
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:26 AM
Could Bozell be this generations Anthony Cromwell? If you ask me, he really shoulden't be in the conservative opinion section because he dosen't really talk a lot about convervative politics, rather how media is destroying our minds and morals. It makes more sense to put someone like BOR under the conservative section instead of the general opinion.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:58 AM
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