Atrios and Digby on Cox on Colbert

Stephen Colbert points to some foibles of the press, and gets the cold shoulder.
Ana Marie Cox points to some foibles of Left Blogistan, and gets the same treatment.

Atrios is mad at Ana Marie Cox for her column about the Colbert performance at the White House Correspondents Association dinner. Well, Atrios is always mad at someone, isn’t he? He seems to share with George W. Bush the sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be A Bad Person. (And would someone please send him a dictionary so he can look up the term “wanker”?)

Atrios links to Digby at Hullabaloo, who provides a detailed fisking of Cox’s column. Digby’s point seems to be that Cox is acting like an insider journalist, thus betraying her Web roots. Or something. (“Our little Wonkette is all grown up.” Do I hear the voice of condescending envy, with just a touch of misogyny? Update: If I heard misogyny, it must have been with my tin ear. My apologies to Digby. More here.)Now as it happens I loved Colbert’s performance. I thought, and think, that it was the best precis ever offered of what’s wrong with the Bush Maladministration. I wish that it had gotten wider attention from the mainstream press, and I think it didn’t get that attention largely because the mainstream press was the other primary target of Colbert’s satiric wrath.

But nothing in Cox’s trenchant, sensible, and well-written column is inconsistent with those beliefs. The main points of the column, as I read it, are:

1. Bloggers are insisting that the press’s failure to laugh at Colbert’s routine was due entirely to the press’s complicity with the Bush Administration. An alternative view is that they didn’t laugh because it wasn’t funny.

2. Running a poll to determine whether something is funny reflects a misunderstanding of the concept “funny.”

3. Insisting that other people laugh at the jokes you enjoy, or suggesting that their failure to do is morally culpable, reflects either a bullying temperament or a misunderstanding of the concept “joke.”

4. Political humor is a poor substitute for political action.

Comedy can have a political point but it is not political action, and what Colbert said on the stage of the Washington Hilton — funny or not — means far less than what the ardent posters at would like it to. While it may have shocked the President to hear someone talk so openly about his misdeeds in the setting of the correspondents dinner — joking about “the most powerful photo-ops in the world” and NSA wiretaps — I somehow doubt that Bush has never heard these criticisms before. To laud Colbert for saying them seems to me, a card-carrying lefty, to be settling. Colbert’s defenders might aim for the same stinging criticisms to be issued not from the Hilton ballroom but from the dais in a Senate Judiciary committee hearing. And I wouldn’t really care if they were funny or not.

As I said to a friend the next day, Colbert’s routine was deeply comic but mostly not funny. (The “glacier” line and the “greeting” to Scalia were the major exceptions.) After all, being ruled by this collection of clowns and criminals is, as we say, no joke.

Ridicule, and especially ironic ridicule, has a long and respectable history. But its purpose is not to cause laughter. No one, I think, denies that Swift’s “Modest Proposal” is among the masterpieces of the comic art. But it would take a heart of stone to laugh at it. The coroner’s jury that (according to Chesterton) found in the case of a starvation victim from the Irish Potato Famine that the cause of death was “Wilful murder by Lord John Russell” was making an excellent joke, but it wasn’t a joke intended to start uncontrollable giggling.

That’s the tradition I take Colbert to have been working in. It’s hard to tell without the perspective only time can afford, but I think his routine enriched that tradition.

Had I written Cox’s column, I would have said some of that, in order to defend Colbert from the silly charge of having “bombed” when a routine not primarily designed to cause people to laugh did not, in fact, cause them to laugh. And I wouldn’t have claimed, as she did, that the press did in fact cover Colbert’s routine in a way that give readers and viewers a sense of what it was about, or implied that only a ha-ha-funny stand-up act would have been an appropriate way to fill the role Colbert had agreed to fill.

But Cox’s primary target wasn’t Colbert. Her target was the self-importance of some of us on the left side of the Blogosphere. Her column reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s satiric attack on those who confused folk-singing with political activism.

Remember the war against Franco.

That’s the kind where each of us belongs.

He may have won all the battles,

But we had all the good songs!

A good audience response to a satiric attack on a person or an idea is certainly a sign that the audience dislikes, or is prepared to dislike, that person or idea. But a sign isn’t the same thing as a cause. As Macaulay says of Thomas Wharton’s claim that in writing “Lilliburlero” he had “sung a king out of three kingdoms,”

… the song was the effect, and not the cause of that excited state of public feeling which produced the revolution.

Yes, politics is partly conducted through talking and writing, and those of us whose primary mode of political engagement is talking and writing can sometimes do useful work. Obviously the mass media matter in politcs, and those of us who engage in media criticism can sometimes help shape media behavior, which has real-world political consequences. But politics is mostly conducted by asking people for their votes, and by organizing to do so. Cox is reminding us that writers and talkers, and in particular comic writers such as Colbert and Cox herself and those who find their work amusing, shouldn’t take themselves too seriously.

Update Incorrect “iceberg” changed to correct “glacier” per a commenter’s suggestion. Several commenters think the above is unfair to Atrios. I’m not cricizing him for being angry; Lord knows, I hate BushCo about as much as one can on an outpatient basis. I’m criticizing him, and Digby, for attacking Cox personally for her failure to join the chorus on this one occasion, despite Cox’s well-established Blue credentials. As to “wanker,” of course Atrios knows its original meaning, but he doesn’t seem to have noticed its obvious inappropriateness as applied to a female.

Second update Atrios, responding to my suggestion that he tends to personally denigrate people who disagree with him rather than responding to their ideas, helpfully suggests that my criticism of his post results from my illiteracy. I’d like to thank him for providing evidence for my point.

In response to comments, I’ve changed “male chauvinism” to “misogyny.”

I’ve edited the comments, not to remove criticisms of me or the post but in accord with our published “play nice” rules of engagement. If you feel the urge to read reams of obscene abuse directed my way, let me refer you to the comments on the second Atrios post. Most of the obscene abuse directed at Ana Marie Cox is in the comments to the original post.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

112 thoughts on “Atrios and Digby on Cox on Colbert”

  1. (The "iceberg" line [glacier?] and the "greeting" to Scalia were the major exceptions.)
    Oh, there were plenty more, e.g. the Hindenburg line. Though for me, the high point was the classification of the remaining Bush supporters as "backwash". Sheer genius.

  2. I don't carry water for either Colbert or the columnist-formerly-known-as-Wonkette. But I think, Mark, that the blog-o-rage and the column and even this post miss a couple of bigger points.
    First, my own disappointment (and I suspect that of many others) comes not because the MSM said he wasn't funny but because he didn't get much coverage. ("Funny" is kind of a diversion.) Compare the air time he got to these two things: the amount of air time the bush double got– and you have to include half of Timmeh's hour this morning too– and the air time Ray McGovern and the guy in North Carolina got. I don't think Colbert got much in comparison, though what he did was in some ways even more in-your-face than what the latter two did, albeit more subtly so.
    Second, very little attention was paid (at least I didn't see much that seemed to appreciate it, *even though* the "fiction" line seemed to get a pretty big laugh) to the parody of the press's modus operandi. It was vicious, and also accurate, in my estimation.
    When Colbert talks about "truthiness" it isn't only bush's gut he's talking about. Nor is it only O'Reilly's. It's also the 2000-era "heathers" and "kool kids" who intuited that bush was a good guy and gave him favorable coverage for being "genuine." They intuited that Gore was "wonky" and "geeky"– carefully coached by the bush campaign– and they didn't like him (some of them have since said so).
    In fact, I think there's a very good chance that this elevation of a gut-based epistemology is a deep game of the bush campaign that, along with continuous accusations of liberal bias, has aimed to destabilize the press and steer them away from discussion of fact. The result is that things you feel *ought* to be true are, for that reason alone, true; they're "truthy."
    Chris Matthews was being "truthy" when he could say that "everybody likes this guy except for the real wack jobs" when the polls all were showing by then that in fact most people didn't and the trend was down. His gut told him that bush was a likeable guy, so it had to be so.
    Now it happens that the WH correspondents' dinner is expressly intended to reinforce that dynamic because it's supposed to humanize everybody involved in using power for those reporting on power. In other words, reporters go there to be spun on a personal level so the political coverage will be more favorable. A "truthier" endeavor there never was. (All this trotting out of the bush double guy only confirms that view of the event.)
    In this kind of environment, there is political value in saying true things.
    I know from reading your posts for quite a while that you agree, even though– and I agree– it doesn't have the same political value as electing people on your side of the divide. But saying true things can help elect better people, and I also believe it is good in itself to say and believe true things. And I want the people on my side to be saying true things, rather than "truthy" things.
    Was he funny? Mostly, that's the wrong question. It can be hard to make political epistemology funny. He got some laughs, but I don't think he was there to make 'em roll in the aisles. I do think some of the brighter newsies understood his parody of them, and I think that's why there's so much concern about whether he was funny. Shifts the focus.
    As for Cox, my jury is out. Even when she was Wonkette I never knew what her position was on saying true things, and I still don't. To the extent that she might be pooh-poohing it, I think she would be off-base. And that she's talking about whether he was funny makes me uneasy.

  3. The process of asking people for their vote is actually the least important part of politics. Look at the study of Fox's influence on the Florida 2000 presidential election for one example. Alternatively look at Ashcroft's defeat in the Missouri 2000 Senatorial election. You think the dead man was better able to ask for votes than the living, breathing Ashcroft?

  4. "…seems to share with George W. Bush the sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be A Bad Person."
    Geez, Mark — why start off an otherwise thoughtful post with a false characterization, guaranteed to anger the very people I assume you're trying to reach? I don't agree with a lot of things Atrios says, but he does have the occassional honest disagreement with others.

  5. Passion is not the same as stubbornness. George Bush is a mule of a man, unwilling to budge despite his own best interest, at times, and definitely despite the best interest of the country he was putatively elected to lead. Atrios is passionate in his beliefs, but I have watched that passion grow with every Republican malfeasance. The question is how can you NOT be as angry as Duncan right now? The President and his minions in the administration have more or less taken the "what are you gonna do about it?" position when confronted with the fact that they lied us into a disastrous war. Half of the Republican Congress is apparently about to be indicted for awarding defense contracts to poker-playing pimps. The former Republican House majority leader accepted the largesse of Russian gangsters in exchange for access. Right now, the Republicans are deliberately provoking a confrontation with Iran in order to bolster their electoral chances in November. Is there anything these people won't do?

  6. "[Atrios] seems to share with George W. Bush the sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be A Bad Person."
    I've seen other bloggers write the same sort of thing about you. (I'd cite a link, but I'm Treo-commenting.) I disagree with their assessment, and yours.
    Moreover, Colbert was outrageously funny. Only a bad person could fail to see that.

  7. "…seems to share with George W. Bush the sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be A Bad Person."
    I've been reading Atrios daily for two years and this has not been my experience. As for "wanker," I'm puzzled. Don't you know what it means, either conventionally (the original meaning) or in blogistan? Before Atrios started his Wanker of the Day" routine there was a discussion.
    Twice in one post you have been not only condescending, but obtuse. The good news: most people do those separately. I would ONLY expect you to be condescending (which is rare) when you are also missing the point.

  8. "writers and talkers […] shouldn't take themselves too seriously"
    Yeah, that sap Shelley, claiming poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world – he should have gotten over himself.
    When he wrote:
    England In 1819
    An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,
    Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
    Through public scorn–mud from a muddy spring,
    Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
    But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
    Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,
    A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,
    An army, which liberticide and prey
    Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,
    Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay,
    Religion Christless, Godless – a book seal'd,
    A Senate – Time's worst statute unrepealed,
    Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
    Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.
    – well, Percy was always mad at someone, wasn't he? He seemed to share with King George the sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be A Bad Person.
    You seem to be hoist with your own petard here.
    p.s. the "wanker" pedantry is pretty funny given what the dictionary actually says about it (hint: "usu." stands for "usually").

  9. A simple point missed in this whole controversy: people laugh at the jokes their bosses tell, not those told by their social inferiors. This press corps laughs in unison at Bush's exceedingly lame and sometimes tasteless jokes because they believe he is their superior. Colbert's wit is much more the type they would themselves use (and laugh at) in private, but they don't dare laugh in public. It's all about sucking up to power, and they do it very well.

  10. the point of the poll about "whether or not Colbert's routine is funny" is not to determine if it is or not funny. It is to assess the reaction of the people to the routine. If you get an even split from the poll, then you'd assume an even split from the coverage of it would be par for the course. Before the blogs started to make noise about it, no one said it was funny. OTOH, the Bush double must have been hilarious from what I read in the NY Times. What the journalists wrote about the routine is a sampling of their reaction, the same way the poll is a sampling of the reaction of a wider community. Journalists voted not funny by and large.

  11. I for one appreciate the clarification between "funny" and "ridicule." You are right: Colbert did ridicule the maladministration, made me terrifically nervous on his behalf (while sitting 1600 miles away…) and simultaneously spoke truth to power. The question is whether he'll be an inspiration for the congress or non-humorist pundits on the right OR left.

  12. "…seems to share with George W. Bush the sincere and passionate belief that anyone who disagrees with him must be A Bad Person."
    You know better than this. Shame on you. Not because you're a "Bad Person," but because you're a good person who knows better than this kind of one-size-fits-all cheap shot.

  13. 1. Watching a woman puke her guts out after having had 20 beers would lead us to believe she drank too much. An alternative view is that she threw up because he was pregnant.
    2. Assuming that the poll was run to determine if Colbert was 'funny' misunderstands the meaning of the words 'reading comprehension'.
    3. Insisting that your 'alternate' worldview is correct even when it is extremely implausible (see 1. above) reflects an extreme dissociation with reality or a misunderstanding of the concept of Occams Razor
    4. Political action was IMPOSSIBLE at the WHCA Dinner – no ballots were open there. Only political humor was possible. It is Wonkette's strawman to see political action.

  14. the objection isn't the whole unfunny line of attack. the objection is that the entire freakin thing was disappeared down the memory hole until the blogosphere threw a hissy fit.

  15. Ana Marie may have well-established Blue credentials, but she too often affects a Note-like quality of being above the silly partisan fray. Sometimes this lends needed perspective, other times it just makes it look like liberals don't really take this stuff seriously.
    In any event, I think this post was pretty much spot-on, Mark. And I say this as a fan of Atrios and of Atrios' anger in particular.

  16. The mainstream media are still the gatekeepers of information for the vast majority of Americans. The fact that they gave Colbert little to no coverage, and took great pains to denigrate him when they did mention him: that is what people are upset about. Cox's fundamental misapprehension of that fact is what earned her Atrios's "wanker" nomination.
    The question we should be asking is, "Why didn't the MSM cover Colbert until the blogs made a fuss about it?" Whether the press thought he was funny or not should not be the qualification for airtime or ink. I would say a comedian ripping the president and the press, while he is standing mere feet from the former and in the same room as the latter no less, should qualify as "news" in a big way. But most news outlets were ready to pretend it just didn't happen. Colbert's biggest "mistake" was that he mocked and satirized the beltway press and their laziness as much as he satirized the administation. Cox not only missed that point as well, she actually did her best imitation of all the other beltway blowhards who panned Colbert out of narcissistic umbrage instead of realizing what a huge cultural moment his performance really was, regardless of their hurt feelings over it. Another reason she received, and deserved, the moniker of "wanker" for that day.

  17. If Cox is such a card-carrying lefty, then why is she wasting valuable column space in TIME taking a piss on this widespread galvanization around Colbert?
    If she thinks it's all ultimately inconsequential, then she can just let other people celebrate it and disregard the whole thing.
    But if she wants to poo-poo that enthusiasm with her pal Joe Scarborough, and if that's what she's rallying around, all I can say is: Hey baby, if you're happy with that…

  18. "…George Bush is a mule of a man…"
    I disagree. He's a feather in the wind. Rove and Cheney are running our government, and Dubya is nothing more than a wind-up toy that they send out for photo-ops.

  19. Bloggers are insisting that the press's failure to laugh at Colbert's routine was due entirely to the press's complicity with the Bush Administration.
    Nah, they're insisting that they failed to laugh because they were the target. "Satyr is a kind of glass, wherein Beholders do generall discover every body's Face but their Own."

  20. Re: Ana-Marie Cox's well establish Blue credentials, I am not so sure. She seems to me like another Maureen Dowd, willing to give up her convictions for a bon mot.
    Plus: it's fun dissing gawker, but she should disclose it was her previous employer.

  21. Oops…
    "The mock newsman's standup routine during the White House Correspondents dinner, which set off a bitter debate among blogging wags over its comedic merits, resulted in the best ratings week ever for Colbert's eponymous Comedy Central talk show.
    "The Colbert Report" averaged just under 1.5 million total viewers for its four episodes last week, an increase of 37 percent over the show's year-to-date average through April 30.
    About two-thirds of those viewers were in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 year old demographic."

  22. Was Colbert funny? I believe that's irrelevent. Was he courageous? I believe he was. Are the reporters of the Washington press corps courageous? Remember the words of Elizabeth Bemiller who told us how intimidating it was to be talking to the President of the United States. Was Colbert intimidated? Didn't look like it to me. Perhaps the ladies and gentlemen of the press should take some lessons from Mr. Colbert. This is America, we don't have to be intimidated by our leaders — they should be intimidated by us.

  23. Whether Colbert's performance in front of Bush was funny is beside the point, a red-herring to distract from uncommfortable truths. A trademarked Rove tacic.
    And his humor did not cross the line as some have suggested. If George and Laura joking about missing WMD's and masturbating horses the year before didn't cross the line, Colbert didn't.
    What is newsworthy about Colbert's performance is that someone got close enough to this president to heckle him. Respecting the right to petition the government is one of many rights Bush interprets to the advantage of himself and his financial backers.
    Colbert: Speaking truth to truthiness.

  24. I might as well point out that I think it is possible for Digby to exhibit "male" chauvinism re: atrios, and that I also can't recall Atrios disagreeing with someone without thinking they are a bad person. I'm sure his defenders can get some examples up since the entire site is archived so let's have 'em and put paid to that argument definitively.
    But Madame Ass-Fucker's (a term I say with affection seriously) column is written in the style she uses when she talks, or that I've seen her to use: the most irritatingly condescending language you'll encounter this side of the political spectrum. Also what are her political credentials on the left? Wonkette was always more gossip than politics and it lambasted republcans because there are more republicans in DC.
    I somehow doubt that Bush has never heard these criticisms before. I doubt he HAS and I think the Colbert thing is effective in more than just ratings (although more people turning in to the Colbert report is probably a positive sign for the country if they're not just all Daily Show visitors) because once someone has made these criticisms the people who hear them cannot forget them just because they were made in the atmosphere that surrounds the would-be king, and now other people can make them and even more can think them because Colbert did and he's still "safe." Thought might not be action, but discounting the power an idea can be a serious mistake.
    Finally I found the actual speech mostly not funny, with occasional funny bits maybe 60/40 unfunny/funny myself. Much like his show. I've seen maybe 1 or 2 shows where it's REALLY funny and most where he's hit and miss like in his performance that night.

  25. "But among the crowds a little child suddenly gasped out, "But he hasn't got anything on." And the people began to whisper to one another what the child had said. "He hasn't got anything on." "There's a little child saying he hasn't got anything on." Till everyone was saying, "But he hasn't got anything on." The Emperor himself had the uncomfortable feeling that what they were whispering was only too true. "But I will have to go through with the procession," he said to himself.
    So he drew himself up and walked boldly on holding his head higher than before, and the courtiers held on to the train that wasn't there at all."
    Sometimes speaking truth to power can be funny, dangerous, and can break the ice causing all sorts of political fallout.

  26. Let's get something straight — the bloggers were rightly [peeved] because the Sunday morning coverage of The Dinner attempted to disappear Colbert's performance altogether. Instead we were treated to innumerable rondelets of the stupid "Me 'n My Shadow" bit between Bush and his "double". Oh, how the hijinks did ensue on that one.
    When the complaints about ignoring Colbert quickly became too much to simply ignore, the Official Commentators collectively went into Terry Bradshaw mode and declared "Not funny!". Andrew Dice Cohen sniffed from the frontlines of his WaPo column that Colbert was a rude bully, as if Dick Cheney and Karl Rove had ever been anything but.
    Now, Wonkette's big problem here is twofold: 1)her blog career was built on exactly the sort of snide preening she declaims in Colbert; 2)her concluding tilt at the Senate Judiciary Committee windmill is, well, asinine. What in the hell does she think we've all been writing our elected representatives over and over again for, keeping careful track of every issue, ringing the bell at every occasion of mal-fee-ance?
    Has she seen how many times the WaPo pollsters have studiously ignored requests just to poll on the subject of impeachment? But she'll be impressed when the Senate goes along with it. Well, ya gotta start somewhere, honey, and it useta be that people had to know obvious things like that before they got book contracts and stuff.
    I guess we're all just supposed to wait around for the right time and place to critique The Decider, even though he's polled around 35% for what, eight months running now? Apparently all the "serious" liberals are quietly waiting for the numbers to drop to 10% or so — and then watch out!
    Note to Colbert: next time check in with Wonkette and Diceman Cohen as to what's acceptable, and what's funny. Some light-hearted yuks about Bush's nutty malaprops oughta salve the wounds of a great nation being lawn-darted by a crew of corrupt morons. Sheesh.

  27. Do I hear the voice of condescending envy, with just a touch of male chauvinism?
    This is one of the ugliest things I've read on this usually mildest of blogs. Attribution to motive when you have really no information to work with is just routine ad hominem – careful, or someone might mistake you for one of those uncouth, foul-mouthed bloggers.

  28. the bloggers were rightly [peeved] because the Sunday morning coverage of The Dinner attempted to disappear Colbert's performance altogether
    This is true, but the weight behind that sentiment is something that should not be missed. Some people think that the State of our Union is, at this point, dire enough that yukking up the malapropisms of the Chief Executive is like laughing at a drunk driver as he plows the car into a crowd.
    And although this seems to have been the turning point in which Wonkette became Wankette, some of us knew that about her earlier (and I was a fan of her schtick) — she hit the media spotlight during the 2004 campaign when ABC, I think, hired her for commentary (about as substantial as most of her ripostes), and she took a consistent Joe Klein role while allowing Assrocket to bring out every well-sharpened talking point in his scabbard against Kerry. Her willing compliance with this joke which presupposed she was providing liberal "balance" did not endear her to me.
    Thus, she is a wanker par excellence because she is performing for her own gratification (and/or career), while Colbert, on the other hand, is gutsy by comparison with almost every other media person in that room that night. Courage might be too strong a word, this being after all a world in which political speech grants some people a hastier end to their life than they deserve, and to others torture and imprisonment. In the United States of 2003, though, we had the Dixie Chicks get dixiechicked, and Donahue get donahued, and before that, Maher get mahered. Colbert has corporate masters and a youngish show; it's almost certain that in 2003, for saying the same things, he would have risked near-certain cancellation. The way his bread is buttered, you'd think he'd know better than to make the Commander in Chief uncomfortable for more than, say, 12 minutes.
    Basically, once upon a time we did think Cox was dependable for occasionally pointing out the rather naked condition of the emperor. Today it seems she'd rather be the one to heckle the man who says the emperor has no clothes, with the curiously politically-enervating argument that of course he doesn't, but commenting on it doesn't get us anywhere. Viva revolucion!

  29. "Rove and Cheney are running our government,…"
    Small point – I believe you misspelled "Rumsfeld".

  30. I hate to be the one to tell you, but Atrios's post isn't about Wonkette's take on Colbert. That's why he's calling you illiterate.
    Re-read the post to which you linked; you'll feel kinda dumb.

  31. The appaling solipsism of most Americans is really unfortunate. You're all so focussed on your own self-image and critiques of it and mostly indifferent to real insight. I hope liberals will realise soon that this is getting them absolutely nowhere.
    For those of us in the Western World watching the disaster that is the US from outside, a post like this is completely irrelevant. As most of what Wonkette writes is, as well.

  32. Basically, once upon a time we did think Cox was dependable for occasionally pointing out the rather naked condition of the emperor. Today it seems she'd rather be the one to heckle the man who says the emperor has no clothes, with the curiously politically-enervating argument that of course he doesn't, but commenting on it doesn't get us anywhere. Viva revolucion!
    Yeah well, like the Green Day song say, another protestor has crossed the line, to find the money's on the other side.
    Good for Wankette. Hope the gig pays well.

  33. You know when you go to someone's house as a guest, and one family member says one tiny, insignificant-to-an-outsider thing, and there's this huge familial conflagration?
    'Luv Atrios. 'Luv Wonkette.
    Let's take this energy, and keep our eye on the prize, which is taking both houses in '06, and not pissing on each other.

  34. "Let's take this energy, and keep our eye on the prize, which is taking both houses in '06, and not pissing on each other."
    I totally agree with this. I think it would have been superb if the SCLM had taken Colbert's handoff and just run with it. I think it would have been even better if paid "liberal" commentators and "liberal" politicians could have even just taken a single step forward and meekly opined, "What he said."
    But honest to god, I cannot for the life of me understand how a 33% administration has all these people so cowed. Colbert handed them a golden opportunity to refine and crystallize their message and they all act like he pissed in their corn flakes.
    What the hell is wrong with these people?

  35. "the bloggers were rightly [peeved] because the Sunday morning coverage of The Dinner attempted to disappear Colbert's performance altogether"
    Why should the Sunday morning coverage have included any mention of Colbert's bit? He wasn't funny, and he didn't say anything that we did not already know. I thought he was tedious this time, yucking up the obvious.
    What was the big story the MSM was expected to report? That Bush was not amused by Colbert? That's not news. Bush is too vain and shallow for any humor that does involve a Baptist, a Catholic, and a Jew walking into a bar. He thinks bald spots are funny, as long as they are on other men's heads and he can point them out.
    The dweebs who call themselves the "netroots" have gone over the edge just a bit here. They expect and demand conformity of opinion on obtuse humor, of all things. I'm pretty certain Colbert will be skewering THEM pretty soon…

  36. Joshua:
    At your suggestion, I reread the post. It starts with the obscene award to Cox, and a link to Digby's post criticizing her for her Colbert column. Having established that as the base, Atrios then proceeds to criticize Cox's book.
    That part of the post starts with "By the way," indicating that Atrios's trashing of the book is apropos Cox's criticism of Colbert. The logic is "Not only is she a wanker for having written that column, but she's also a terrible writer." That's part of what I objected to: it seems that Atrios decided to declare open season on Cox, as opposed to just saying "I agree with Digby that she got this one wrong big-time."
    So I don't believe that I misread the post at all. I'm sorry to deprive you of the pleasure of making someone else feel dumb.

  37. Hmm…. so many people giving you polite, nearly unanimous advice about how you were incorrect. A person could count themselves lucky to have so many people looking out for him.
    I wonder if you do. A reconsideration and apology would seem a good way to show you are more than some minor leech hoping to get a some hits by attacking a couple of respected bloggers through simple contrarian invective. The only thing missing in your post was "I know its not PC, but…" OOOOO look at the brave man, tilting at strawmen.
    This is one of those moments that can define a man, Mark. Are you the kind of man who can recognize and correct a mistake?

  38. Mark: You didn't understand Digby's post at all. Digby is pointing out that Cox's essay is dishonest. The complaint made by Dau and Atrios was that the Washington Press Corpse _disappeared_ Colbert's remarks. Nobody asked them to laugh, but the gross dishonesty and essentially totalitarian operation of a press silence on the most newsworthy moment in that ghastly ceremony is deeply offensive to any standards of journalism and to any pretence of a free press. Cox's attempt to trivilialize criticism is, as Digby notes, standard procedure for a press corp that is an active participant in massive deceit. It's shameful that after all these years, people like you keep falling for the same crap.

  39. In the long run, those good songs and the good people they inspired prevailed over Franco.

  40. I also want to note that many of us have had it with the recurrent attacks of the vapors that pop up whenever the left criticizes someone. The tedious gossip column that launched Cox's career was mostly famous for her repetitious leering about "a**-f***ing" (in her words). So what is one to make of your shocked reportage on Atrios' "obscene" award?

  41. "Why should the Sunday morning coverage have included any mention of Colbert's bit? He wasn't funny, and he didn't say anything that we did not already know. I thought he was tedious this time, yucking up the obvious."
    Why should the Sunday morning coverage have devoted itself to the tedious "Dumb & Dumber" bit with Bush and his "double"? Even the 20-second sound bites of that were tiresome. Whence comes this concerted effort to portray an incompetent, unpopular figurehead as a "good sport", and pass that off as "news"?
    As for Colbert being funny or not, perhaps I could chalk it up to mere difference of opinion, which is fine, or perhaps I could be a jerk and opine that it just wasn't as hilarious as segments from previous years, of Bush looking for WMD under his desk, or Laura talking about W "milking" a male horse.
    But I'm actually inclined to give your opinion the benefit of the doubt here. You have an implicit point, in that these dinners are usually stocked with the hammy, broad, borscht-belt schtick one finds on the corporate rubber-chicken circuit. This is an audience that was not ready for actual political satire, with an archly-crafted character that perfectly lampoons the self-important buffoonery of the likes of Bill O'Falafel.
    Which makes me wonder all the more what they expected Colbert to do when they invited him. Haven't they watched his show? Was he supposed to come out and do the same vanilla genuflections to an administration mired in incompetence and unpopularity? Hell, they could have got Jay Leno to do that [stuff].

  42. Mysticdog:
    "Leech"? You and I have different notions of what counts as polite.
    As to correcting my mistakes when they're pointed out, I do so frequently. I don't believe I was mistaken in reading either Atrios's post or Digby's. I was substantially less harsh with them than either of them was with Cox.

  43. "well-established Blue credentials"? Plural? I can count maybe her taking down Guckert (Gannon) live, but the second escapes me.

  44. **Running a poll to determine whether something is funny reflects a misunderstanding of the concept "funny."**
    Mark : Did you actually read the poll which Cox links to ?
    Do you really believe that it was in any way a poll to determine if "something was funny" ?
    Cox is being disingenous in inventing this strawman of "a poll to determine whether, in fact, Colbert's routine was funny."
    And unfortunately Mark you rightly stand accused of being functionally illiterate if you actually believe Cox's description of the poll

  45. As to correcting my mistakes when they're pointed out, I do so frequently
    Oh? I have yet to see you so much as respond to this. Perhaps, though, your lack of information and bullying tone were not as out-of-character as I thought at the time. As for your complaints about personal attacks and a lack of politeness, well.

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