Bottom Feeders (2001)
But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know -- fiction!
--Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondent's Dinner, April 29, 2006
From the Chicago Sun-Times -- "Did the Media Miss Real Colbert Story?" by Doug Elfman (5-7-06):
The truth is many in the media wrote about Bush's stand-up routine at the dinner as if they had just watched the coming of a comic genius, but they didn't report much on Colbert's funnier, harsher jokes. This may have been a case of the press corps following a standard motto: to the winner goes the spoils, and Bush got more laughs (out of copy written for him) than Colbert did.
How did Bush tickle reporters? He made fun of the fact that he can barely speak English (he is quite simply the worst communicator of all U.S. presidents), that our vice president is a heartless face-shooter, and that Bush is basically an idiot.
Ha ha, our "war president" knows he's a village idiot? To members of the White House press corps, that's some real funny stuff. To non-insiders, this looked like another example of good old boys and gals slapping each other on the back.
Colbert's routine was more remarkable for its unique and creative brazenness. He joked that Bush's presidency is like the Hindenburg; that Bush's wiretappers were monitoring this very event, and that the White House press corps, sitting in front of Colbert, gave Bush a free pass, scandal after scandal, until recently (when his polls numbers dropped).
How's this for a newsworthy lead? It was perhaps the first time in Bush's tenure that the president was forced to sit and listen to any American cite the litany of criminal and corruption allegations that have piled up against his administration. And mouth-tense Bush and first lady Laura Bush fled as soon as possible afterward.
From whom were they fleeing? A star comedian pretending to be a Fox News-like blowhard doing a sort of performance art that America hasn't witnessed nationally since the days of Andy Kaufman. Even if Colbert's bit had been reported as a train wreck, that would have sufficed. Instead, shocking lines like the following were barely covered by any traditional organ except industry magazine Editor & Publisher: "I stand by" Bush, Colbert cracked, "because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world."
For TV reporters in particular to quote that gruesome line would be an agreement with Colbert, that they helped Bush mix politics with corruption from the ashes of 9/11 ("aircraft carriers and rubble"), and failed to see through Bush's politicization of the drowning of an American city after a hurricane ("recently flooded city squares").
And from the Huffington Post -- "Ignoring Colbert, Part II" by Chris Durang:
This, by the way, is the same Washington event where Bush previously charmed many (and horrified others) by pretending to have trouble finding Weapons of Mass Destruction (after we'd started to realize they weren't in Iraq), and wandered the room looking under tables. Really cute, huh? They should send videos of that to the families of soldiers killed.
The media's ignoring Colbert's effect at the White House Correspondents Dinner is a very clear example of what others have called the media's penchant for buying into the conservative/rightwing "narrative."
In this instance, the "narrative" is that President Bush, for all his missteps, has a darling sense of humor and is a real regular guy, able to poke delightful fun at himself and his penchant for mis-using and mispronouncing words.
Who cares if he lied to start a war? (Or chose to ignore all contrary opinion, which as far as war-starting goes, is pretty crummy.) Who cares if he declares he's above the law, and according to the Boston Globe yesterday there are something like 750 laws he's decided don't apply to him as "Commander-in-Chief"?
The Globe article's first sentence: "President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution."
If the President doesn't obey the law, what the heck is he? He's a dictator in a coup, I think -- but no matter, according to the media, he's A-DOR-ABLE!
And...meanwhile...no longer under the ocean...
Let's talk instead about a real fish story...
[Cartoon seen on Fringe]
"You know, I've experienced many great moments, and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001. "I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5-pound perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published Sunday.
--MSNBC, May 8, 2006
Well, I guess we all have our Great Moments in BushCo. This would be mine
I don't know of anyone in my administration who has leaked. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.
--George W. Bush, September 30, 2003
[Image seen on Democrats.com]
even if I'd have to embellish about the one who (so far) got away...