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May 01, 2006

Protection Racket: A "Freeze Frame" White House Correspondents' Dinner Repor(t)


Media Matters, among a raft of others, has been on fire today over the MSM's (lack of) coverage of Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner.

If you've been untouched by the heat, the flames concern big media's choice to almost completely ignore Stephen Colbert.  As the evening's featured speaker, Colbert had the combined audacity, courage and apparent job security to give Bush, the Administration and the press corp one of the most extended, blistering and comprehensive rakings demonstrated in years.

In its limp and patronizing place, most outlets -- including the NYT -- profiled (and made hay from images of) a routine orchestrated by the White House between Bush and a GDub impersonator.


For the newswire equivalent of the white wash, you've got to appreciate this newswire shot which was supposed to somehow capture the Bush/Colbert exchange.  The caption simply read:  "U.S. President George W. Bush laughes while listening to comedian Stephen Colbert."  Of course, the image is no way free of tension with those narrowed eyes, the dramatically retreating lean, and that full flush.  But who attends so closely, especially when the caption runs interference for both the visual and actual events?

(For clarity's sake, the montage above is my construction, juxtaposing still frame shots of each man at about the same moment -- mid-way through the speech.  If you watch the video, I believe it's where Colbert links Bush's love of clearing brush with his interest in creating alternative energy sources.  The goal, according to Colbert, is a mesquite powered car.)

Of course, in such formal and visible occasions, Bush is highly talented at handling criticism with at least surface good cheer.  (In contrast to Laura, for example, Bush did a princely job of it at the Coretta King memorial service.)  You don't have to be as close a student of GWB as The BAG, however, to take a more accurate reading -- if you were only allowed the data.

Otherwise, the only way to know Bush took criticism would come from the type of reading that mostly takes place during poker games.

(Speech at Google video here.)

(video stills:  images: Hyungwon Kang/Reuters. April 29, 2006.  Washington. Via YahooNews.)


It's hard to be sure from the sound track, but I had the distinct impression that the news force in attendance felt as uncomfortable as the Presidense. With good reason, of course -- Colbert was rubbing Administration and Media noses in the same muck. To have acknowledged his evisceration of Bush would have required that they admit the same thing had happened to them. Downplay his routine, diminish its humor, build up the BushBush gig. It's SOP for a royal reinue.

(Note: "evisceration" was an accidental grab. Didn't realize at the moment how ironic the metaphor was: after all, how can you eviscerate an entity with no guts?)

To those of us in the 'reality-based community,' this is big, shocking news: "Man has balls to tell GWB the truth to his face". To Bush supporters and the media, which no one can argue is anything but compliant, this was some 'comedian' at a dinner event who played around with some satire, got Scalia to laugh heartily, and didn't get many laughs. It doesn't make for an exciting clip for the news- Colbert says something biting and insightful, and everyone sits around thinking "am I going to lose my job tomorrow?" Think of how the story they ran with plays out- Bush monkeys around with his 'twin' and everyone had a joyous ol' time. No explaining necessary, no backstory required. As between slapstick and sophisticated humor, which are they going to choose to cover?

I'm reminded of how Clinton looked when Don Imus roasted him, making jokes about Clinton's extramarital affairs. Clinton, in contrast to Bush here, looked like he wanted to laugh at some of Imus' jokes but kept a straight face for the sake of propriety. Even when Clinton was unhappy with Imus, he managed to keep his cool.

Bush has completely lost his cool here. The obvious leaning away and the narrowed eyes make him look like a trapped animal who wants to run away. The puffy, off-kilter redness of his face in the second photo makes him look... well, drunk. I've never been one to repeat any of those rumors of drinking and I don't mean to imply Bush has a substance abuse problem, but it looks as though he was drinking to possibly escape the evening. I don't blame him.

Remember how Bush had strange, angry expressions on his face during his debates with Kerry? In these photos with Colbert, he's trying to replace his usual petulant scowl with a grimace. He's in a real snit. I bet Bush was probably most offended by the way Colbert snarkily addressed him as if they were equals. Underneath the fake, regular-guy persona, Bush is a petty snob. How dare one of "those people" talk to him that way.

Everyone has been comparing this speech to the Don Imus speech.

I don't think Imus's speach was as harsh for Clinton. By that point Clinton had admitted that he had sex with Lewinsky, but Bush hasn't admitted his mistakes. Bush is a "war president" so you aren't supposed to say bad things about him.

There were plenty of great lines in the speech.

The speech didn't go over that well with the audience at the dinner. At the wonkette they suggested that's because Colbert is an outsider where Don Imus was an insider. Insiders can get away with more.

But when things are televised, who can say what the real audience is.

Colbert was like Andy Kaufman up there. The audience, you could hear the teeth grinding. It was not funny, it was perfect. There is nothing funny about the way the US's first dictator is behaving, or the MSM who cares less about bringing us actual news than it does about it's sole duty of regurgitating press releases.

Go Stephen, go. Brilliant.

I saw the bit live on c-span. during the first airing, they had a split screen (as in your first image) for much of colbert's bit. it was great to be able to compare bush's reaction in real time. c-span reran the event immediately after it was broadcast live. the second airing did not have the split-screen, but did have cut aways to the audience and bush. it made for a very different viewing.

Lets see now. MSM does not cover this event. The Colbert part of it anyway. Blogs turn out to be the only way to get the story out. Once again. After blogs nail it MSM, reluctanly, picks it up. Once again, where would we be without blogs? I mean, HELL, look where we are with them. We see, daily, examples of their importance.

And now we see a corporation is suing blogger for defamation. Blogger wrote, among other things, the corporation is "pissing away" state (Maine) monies. Hit with a multi million-dollar law suit.

Hmmm, seems like the kind of thing most blogs would be interested in posting about. Yet that is turning out to less than so.

Its a funny world from where I sit.

I am in awe of Mr. Colbert: sheer brilliance and nerves of steel. God bless him.

To quote the BAG from the post above:

"In kids trapped in adult bodies, you tend to see silliness substituting for wit;"

The Dubya Twins act was definitely silliness. Colbert was searing, biting, intelligent wit.

The MSM audience seemed not to know quite how to react to anything other than the Goober-Bush silliness.

Evidently they serve only Kool Aid at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

The blogosphere is where the winds are blowing and tides are rising. Colbert is on the crest of the wave. Hurrah!!!

Yesterday the Immigrant's Train roared right through Sensenbrenner Station. Lots of people are on-board, and it is not just immigrants. America is watching the birth of a major new political movement. The politicization of young immigrants is a powerful sight.

January 20, 2009 may arrive sooner than we expect.

"I bet Bush was probably most offended by the way Colbert snarkily addressed him as if they were equals." From the post above: yes, but, you see, the Pres. is only "first, among equals." Therefore, the later remark about his snobbery is even more meaningful. He just isn't used to someone less socially placed than he giving him any flack. The thought, unrelated, occurred to me that since Colbert's show is supported by big corporate money (Verizon?) that the oligarchy might be sending their boy a message: "you are in big trouble, and even we are not happy."That might also account for the squirming.

mugatea mentions Andy Kaufman. Also: Gen Christian and Billionaires for Bush.

Funniest thing all night was the pall of near silence that attended Colbert's boasting roasting satire. This is the same room that pissed themselves laughing while the President slyly searched his office for WMDs a couple of years ago. Compare their collective reaction the next time the President interrupts a serious questioner with a one of his trademark "quips".

That was some brave stuff there. All of us watching over here couldn't help but be a little terrified for Colbert, but he handled himself like a man. I've wanted someone to put Bush and the press through something like this for some time. I bet there were some racing heartbeats in that room...

y'know, in the first pic, all ya gotta do is put Bush in a silver wig and some pearls and he is the spittin' image of his momma.

I refrained myself for 15 posts before I now mention Hitler and his Merry Brownshirts. But blackdogbarking's comment force me to take leave of any self-discipline. Remembering that episode of the guffawing audience over Bush's offensive jokes about looking for WMDs conjured visions of those murderers. I have no doubt Hitler had his own little parties where the room was filled with peals of shrill laughter when jokes were made about Jews, gypsies, the handicapped, Poland, Socialists, Communists, France, etc.

(And momly, you know what, George probably does dress up in his mother's pearls and attire when Laura's not around. It's one of those "I feel it in my gut" kind of knowing.)

I love watching the audience's stifled laughter...very telling.

Maybe one of the reasons (among many) is how Colbert showed courage. Something the MSM does not have. By showing courage, it only reminds them that they lack it...

Any thoughts as to why S-Cpan didn't show the split screen version the second and third or howsoever many rebroadcasts?

Asta: LOL!!! Yeah, I know what you mean; there really *isn't* much evidence to go on about George's proclivities, but there is just something about him....

If anyone is so inclined, go to and drop him a line of thanks.

Thank you for this post and links. I watched the live broadcast and I squirmed for the very funny, brave, to the point and risky presentation of Colbert who really went over the edge at that event in Bush'e face. I looked for commentary and found none in the three papers I get (LA Times, NY times and San Diego Union). I expected him to be excoriated, but not ignored. He sure made them squirm!

"At the recent White House Correspondents Dinner, master comedian Stephen Colbert performed magnificently. With the rapier of wit and the mace of truth, he respectively skewered and censured the presidency of "dum'ass botch". And that's not all Mr Colbert accomplished.

Tucked away in his address to the dinner's flabbergasted attendees, like a ticking time bomb, there was an "easter egg", which we had absolutely . . . here "we" is a polite nod . . . NO right to expect. Like a mischievous Easter Bunny, Mr Colbert delivered a bon mot, so profound as to approach philosophical.

oh, before I reveal Mr Colbert's casual accomplishment, I should like to preface with a cave-- . . . "

The above text, which is enclosed within quotes, can be found appended to the article, which is located on the other side of the below hyperlink.

thanking you in advance for your gracious patience,

.he who is known as sefton

. . . oh, yeah, I should add that the full title for that post is "rehabilitation of and by and for the right wing" . . .

Colbert's wit definitely did not go over everyone's head. When c-span panned the audience, I saw a general really not laughing, but the man sitting beside him had his hand over his mouth in an obvious attempt at stifled laughter. Also, remember this was largely a republican crowd. The court does not laugh at the joke unless the king laughs. It sounded like all the liberals bunched up together (in the back?) and you could hear them laughing. They obviously don't have as big a mouthpiece as the right.

Another thing to consider is the choice of Colbert. Someone MUST have known what he does for a living and how he does it. Do you suppose they picked him just to watch W squirm. As sycophants often do, they set up the kill in private, then fawn over the prey in public. Pretty good description of the MSM. No wonder they didn't laugh; he was pointing out their failure to do their jobs and they are smart enough to get the message. Well, most of them are.

When Jon Stewart looked the CNN toadies in the eye and spit, their program was canceled within days. Now his buddy Colbert looked the BCF and the capos in the eye and spit. I wonder how much time they have....

Blush is as two-faced in this photo as his psyche is. If you cover the right side of his face (your left), his left side is completely serious, even angry (have I read he has some kind of palsy?)--no matter, this is still another visual metaphor for his utter insincerity.

Dubya's only virtue is that he is a bad liar. This has more to do with being spoiled, lazy, and self-indulgent than with being honest.

Have another look at the skit with the double. Dubya is not a happy camper. He is NOT having a good time. Look at his face, but PAY ATTENTION TO HIS VOICE. It is flat when it is not growly. The voice tells you much, much more about emotional states than the face. People can learn to control the latter more easily than the former.

Net neutrality! Net Freedom! Let the internet run free! Don't let Mike McCurry and Verizon take away our blogs.

There are many, many pictures of Bush being red-faced throughout the evening.

This isn't embarassment or anger... those emotional flushes come and go, so some photos ought to show him white. This isn't choked circulation or overheating... his face is much redder than his hands.

So... drugs or alcohol or both?

If Bush never watches TV, he might not have known quite how Colbert was going to deliver his routine, or even that it would be bone-shiveringly precise. But I suspect that somebody on staff (short straw) warned him that the night was going to be rough, so he prepared for it with a nip of courage.

Bush believes he is inerrant, chosen by God, and the deliverer of the Middle East. Opiates? Who knows what his doctor is prescribing.

A couple years ago, the press thought that Bush's wandering the floor and searching under their chairs for the missing WMD was hilarious. War is news and news sells papers and circulation sells ad space. Lieberman was photographed laughing, too. Thousands dead, for a lie.

Does truth sell newspapers?

Nope, lies sell newspapers.

Truth hurts.

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