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. On occasion this and other blogs quite dispassionately discuss questions of whether it would be a good idea to detonate large amounts of high explosive on or near particular parts of other countries. This blog in particular (and others as well) also attempt to keep conversation civil in part by doing things like editing comments so that a piece of strong language ends up saying something like "[peeved]".
    There are certain things that happen to a human body when a large amount of high explosives detonate nearby. None of it is good. None of these bodies have undergone due process before their body is subjected to bombing. There is, you might say, a certain wreckless disregard for the fate of these bodies when you bomb other countries.
    In the recent past, a large number of human beings have been subject to severe damage caused by bombs dropped on the orders of the President of the US, orders he gained the authority to make under very dishonest circumstances. He gained the authority to make these orders in part because those who wished to stand up to him were told they were not serious by people who would dispassionatly discuss the necessity of dropping bombs. And those who were right about the president and right about the war are still not listened to as preparations for the next war progress inexorably, and people have dispassionate conversations about whether to bomb, and therefore by extension, although it is rarely mentioned, whether to dismantle human bodies.
    I'm just wondering where the real obscenity lies in all of this, that's all.
    If you would like to do something about the way frustration is expressed in the current discourse, I've got an idea where to start.

  2. I have stood by the computer as several friends have viewed Colbert's performance for the first time – friends who have an active interest in humor and comedy – and ALL of them laughed a lot at it, between gasps of "I can't believe he just said that". And consensus on the humor forum I hang out on (populated by at least 50% humor professionals) is that it was genuinely funny, well-written and slickly performed. So, when I hear someone say that theyd didn't laugh at it, I have to wonder what the hell is going on.

  3. Ana Marie Cox is the Zelig of the blogosphere and you stand up to defend her right to opportunistically morph. Which principle are you standing on, exactly?

  4. Women don't wank? Somebody's been lying to you.
    1) satire is political action unless you propose that speech isn't action;
    2) Colbert's routine ranged from very occasionally tedious to pretty funny to hilarious;
    3) anyone who doesn't find Swift funny is a wanker. That's a joke, mostly, but come on:
    "I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.
    I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children."
    People were snorting tea out their noses when they read that last line.

  5. Rilkefan and Calling All Toasters make wonderful points. In particular I'd like to add to Calling All Toaster's point that humor doesn't happen in a social vaccum–people laugh, voluntarily and involuntarily, out of fear, embarrassment, and a need to go along to get along with their superiors. They laugh *at* inferiors when they can get away with it. But they never, ever, laugh along with inferiors when superiors are the target and they never, ever, laugh when they are being attacked by an inferior. Colbert's (to me very funny, but I wasn't in the room with the most powerful man in the world and his armed guards) riff was brutal. Whether people laughed or vomited from fear wasn'tthe issue–the issue is that it was NEWSWORTHY and the press coverage was minimal. When you think how people who protest at Bush events are and have been physically manhandled, when you think how Cindy Sheehan was removed from the visitors gallery, when you think how people have been barred from even asking bush a simple question at public meetings you have to admit that what Colbert did was newsworthy. To the extent that they refused tocover it, and then put their lack of coverage down to the transparent excuse that "it wasn't funny" (that, in itself, should have been somewhat newsworthy) is absurd.
    And Mark, its embarrassing when a serious thinker and writer goes to bat for a press prostitute whose disinterest in the game of screw the people is only underscored by the fact that her husband was at the party in question.
    Colbert's whole speech was, in effect, an indictment of everyone in the room for being "out there" when the rest of us are in prison, for drinking and dining while the country goes down in flames. So I wouldn't take the word of anyone who was there about the noteworthyness of the speech. That it was noteworthy,and funny, is something that those who link to the available online version are proving every minute.

  6. Oh my god, I've just actually read the poll! Mark, you've been had by Anna Maria in the biggest way. Jeebus H. the poll itself is a parody of polls offering the reader two "altenatives"
    1 and B which relate to each other in the same complex way that we are saying Colbert's speech relates to ordinary humor. Go over and read the poll and stop being such a whiner.
    And as for the obscenity. I'm an academic (I've even met you at a talk once) and you are giving us all a bad name by blogging and then by whining that your opinions are not receiving the right proportion of invective to rational discussion. Sometimes good discussions include a little invective. And as for anna maria being subjected to obscenity–have you ever read any of her writing? That is her entire schtick. If she wants to be treated with the delicate shame accorded An Anchoress (insider joke) maybe she should stop writing about sex.

  7. My husband didn't get a chance to see the performance but I printed off a copy of it for him so he could read it. He wept he laughed so hard and so did his 83 year old mom and 60 year old brother. They GOT the humor, as did most of the people who were not directly skewered by it. Those who were didn't laugh, they fumed as was readily seen in the rebroadcasts available almost everywhere.

  8. AM Cox is a wanna be Maureen Dowd. She will bite anyone and distort anything for a column. (see dailyhowler for examples in the latter case)

  9. Is it possible that some of the people writing to tell us that Colbert wasn't funny are picking sides, whether they claim to be liberal or conservative? It really must hurt to have to work in an industry that forces you to restrain yourself so much that you constantly fear being shut out if you don't laugh at the "funny jokes" and groan at the ones that aren't. If you're seen laughing or writing about the jokes that practically everyone else who saw them thinks are funny while Bush and his minions are caught on tape with grimaces and scowls, do you think your access to those in power would be enhanced or diminished?
    Face it fellas, today's form of journalism might not be the world's oldest profession, but it's definitely a subset of the one that holds that title.

  10. Hey Mark:
    Ah yes, Wonkette was bravely knocking those self-important bloggers of the left down a peg. Those nasty bloggers truly are failing their obligations to society. It's a good thing the 3 branches of the federal government and the most influential institutions of the press (our noble Fourth Estate) are all working like clockwork to make up for the failures of Left Blogostan!
    And by the way, after 30 seconds spent on the internets, I found a dictionary of British slang that confirmed my understanding of the term from conversations with Brits. Here's what it says:
    Noun. 1. A masturbator.
    2. A contemptible person.
    3. An idiot, an incompetent person.
    I'm guessing that Atrios is usually referring to some combination of 2 and 3, although Richard Cohen's work is clearly meant to pleasure Richard Cohen alone — so that would be a 1, 2, and 3.
    And what, women can't masturbate??
    Google before criticizing something, Mark. Or at least have a citation that supports you ready to go. In other words, don't be a wanker.

  11. Why have you not responded to the central point that everyone is making: that the debate in the blogs was about the lack of coverage that Colbert got, particularly relative to other performers at the dinner, not primarily about whether he was funny? Cox elides this issue (she writes that Colbert was covered "in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and all the major wire services," but provides no links in an otherwise link-rich column) in order to make a strawman attack on ostensibly stupid, humorless bloggers and their readers. Now, in defending her, so do you. This makes your piece remarkably unconvincing.

  12. despite Cox's well-established Blue credentials.
    Really? She has such credentials? Funny how they never seemed to show up in her "work" – whenever I had the pleasure of visiting her blog, it always seemed to be nothing more than an inside-baseball gossip sheet, and her TV appearances suggest that she has basically no grasp of substantive policy issues at all.
    So if you could elaborate on Cox's well-established Blue credentials, I'd love to hear about them.

  13. I'd say both you and Atrios have, in this instance, demonstrated one of the serious weaknesses among many bloggers, and that is a penchant for absurd hyperbole, particularly when attacking critics. Atrios says you "kant read", and you say that Atrios attacks everyone who disagrees with him as "A Very Bad Person." Neither accusation is true — either literally (which should be fairly obvious) or even figuratively. I don't see either criticism as being a fair representation of your (plural) body of work.
    This isn't a plea for civility — which I couldn't give a damn about — but for accuracy. Both of you demean yourselves and batter your own credibility with attacks of this nature.

  14. STALIN used to tell this joke:
    He was visited by a delegation from one of the small "stans", and after the delegation left he went to pick up his pipe, but couldn't find it. He called Beria, the head of the secret police, and said, "Could you run after that delegation and ask them if one took my pipe?"
    Beria headed down the hall after them, but a few minutes later Stalin found his pipe. He called Baria and said "Don't worry, I found my pipe."
    Baria answered, "Too late, half of them confessed to taking your pipe, the other half died in the questioning."

  15. Mark, I laughed till I cried throughout the whole Colbert performance. Does that mean I have no sense of humor because, as you say, "Colbert's routine was deeply comic but mostly not funny?" I actually believe Colbert had the best jokes of any routine I've seen since Chris Rock's first HBO special. I'm sorry, but your attempt to categorize the Truth of what is funny and what isn't not only aligns you with Richard Cohen's unnwittingly hilarious column. Funny isn't a fact, Mark. It's a perception, and sometimes a consensus. And in Colbert's case, my perception seems to agree with the consensus of everyone but you, Ana Marie, and the beltway pundits (oh, and George and Laura). He was hysterical.

  16. Being condescending to a female doesn't automatically mean someone a mysogynist. That's silly, and ultimately it's doing exactly what you accuse atrios of doing. If you're condescending to one female for a reason other than her being female, it's perfectly legitimate. It seems like you're trying to open the piece with a bit of slander to make the rest of it seem more palatable. No thanks, next time just say you think he was a condescending prick without bringing actual bigotry into the mix.

  17. Atrios is saying Kleiman can't read out of charity – the alternative is the literal truth – that he's running a dishonest strawman argument.

  18. "So if you could elaborate on Cox's well-established Blue credentials, I'd love to hear about them."
    Bingo. In fact, the only time I've seen any reference to Cox as a lefty is the self-reference in the Time column. At best, she's an equal-opportunity mocker.

  19. Cox is a gossip columnist, not a serious political analyst or cultural critic. It may have been unkind of Atrios to pick on a featherweight like Cox, but then again she weighed in on matters beyond her powers of observation and comprehension.
    Kleiman's attempt to square the circle by creating new mutually exclusive categories of humor is a monument of wankery.

  20. I don't count myself a member of the Atrios Army, but I'm a big fan of digby. I don't have much to add to the excellent analysis of your piece. I'm picturing you right now with your tail between your legs. (By the way, it's good practice to look something up before you tell someone to get a dictionary.)

  21. Thank you for saying that about Atrios. I do not want liberals and progressives to become the mirror images of the far Right: rude, insulting, and logically inconsistent.

  22. Not sure if this point has been made yet, but here goes . . .
    You said:
    "Our little Wonkette is all grown up." Do I hear the voice of condescending envy, with just a touch of misogyny?
    I'm not sure why you would hear either. Unless you accept that the moniker Wonkette itself has a touch of misogyny. The -ette suffix can be either a diminutive or turn the noun feminine (or both, which no doubt comes from its misogynist Romantic roots – think Smurfette or the Chipettes). Therefore, Wonkette would be a small Wonk, perhaps female.
    So saying that Wonkette is all grown up might just be saying that she is now a Wonk, with criticism of that title implied.
    The condescension you hear is the usual inference people draw from blogs – sometimes it's there, sometimes not, but very easy to find in a network of competing opinions.

  23. You're not entitled to your own facts unless your name is Mark Kleiman…. Wanker….

  24. Atrios wasn't saying you're illiterate, he was saying you need better reading comprehension. Seems to me you made his point.

  25. OK, so we've established that you don't know what a wanker is. We've established that you are not to clear on what "male chauvinism" is, nor "misogyny".
    But this about sums it up: "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."
    P.S. Since you seem to think it's an offense to Wonkette's modesty (*insert assfucking joke here*) to be called a wanker, being a female, I assume that you also never call a female a "jerk". Because it's pretty much the same thing.
    P.P.S. I'm sure you're a nice person and all, but you seem to be trying too hard to sound intelligent; a few too many big words makes you sound a little bit like a, well, wanker.

  26. Kudos to Mark for being unafraid to challenge the left-wing orthodoxy that we all must revere Colbert for his daring performance, that if we didn't find it particularly funny we're crazy, etc.
    Too bad that he thereby becomes the victim of unwarranted left-wing criticism.
    Well Mark, there are some of us liberals out there who agree with you.
    And no, I don't think that Colbert's performance was particularly helpful to the liberal cause. I thought we were trying to win back political power not piss in punch bowls.

  27. Several earlier posters have already pointed this out, but the primary issue has not been that the press didn't laugh; it's that all the major news outlets maximized the coverage given to Bush's own "act" and minimized the coverage given to Colbert. The fairer of the outlets devoted a tiny amount of attention to Colbert's peformance; the most duplicitous (Good Morning America, for example, as documented by Media Matters) failed even to mention Colbert's existence. Failure to cover, not failure to laugh, is the "silence" to which the blogs have objected. Cox labeled such objections "whining" and Digby quite rightfully called her on it.
    Admittedly, in isolation such criticism could be viewed as nitpicking. However the larger pattern suggests a clear pattern of complicity by the mainstream media. Another recent example includes the coverage of former Illinois governor George Ryan's conviction on corruption charges, in which several major outlets engaged in verbal gymnastics in order to avoid mentioning that Ryan was a Republican. Yet another is the MSM's continued pushing of the thoroughly-discredit meme that Jack Abramoff made contributions to Democrats, an error whose continued repetition suggests more than mere incompetence on the part of a lazy press. For Cox to characterize any objection to the continuing pattern of administration bias in the MSM as "whining" suggests that she hasn't been paying attention.
    As for Cox herself, I've never been sure what to make of her: as Wonkette she seemed reluctant to enter the actual political fray, preferring to pick at the edges in the same way a gossip columnist might devote a paragraph to a socialite's dress while failing to note that she had recently killed her lover with an axe. I'd be mildly disappointed but not entirely surprised to find her, as Digby and Atrios seem to be suggesting, slouching toward Woodwardville.

  28. Why can't Digby exhibit male chauvinsim? Being a woman doesn't matter if you understand male chauvinism as a TYPE of chauvinism i.e. saying something like women should be barefoot and pregnant is male chauvinism whether it comes from a male or female. I guess you went with misogyny, but I got what you were getting at.
    Re: JR, I think Colbert's performance did help the liberal cause because he said these things out loud, live to the face of these people and is still fine, that means we can all say it without fear of retribution. He's given all of us a liscense to bash Bush and laugh at those who would call us traitors. He broke a damn of silence in public discourse. That's pretty useful.
    I have still to see any evidence that contradicts Mark's view of Atrios.
    As to the column itself, I said above that point 4 is wrong, I agree with point 3, don't really give a s*** about point 2 and found the assertions in point 1 tiresome.
    Failiure to laugh is fine. Failiure to acknowledge its existence at all to me just says they are ashamed of their own actions. That seems normal, to want to hide something that not only makes you look bad, but actually makes you feel bad. Whether they laugh or not, I don't think it matters one bit. So I guess I mostly support Mark accept that Cox doesn't have any legitamcy with me. Even her skewering of Jeff Gannon was premised on the fact that he was pretending to be "media" when he wasn't.

  29. Also, one thing to add in response to the "they didn't publish it" outcry. While I believe that they didn't do it because they were ashamed, Kevin Drum brought up a good point: how much coverage did it get last year? Was it that much more than Colbert? Are they really doing something different or is this just standard behavior?
    It doesn't mean the behavior isn't wrong, but it would mean there doesn't have to be a conspiracy about it.

  30. JR: "Too bad that he thereby becomes the victim of unwarranted left-wing criticism.
    Well Mark, there are some of us liberals out there who agree with you."
    ROFLMAO! Trolling for Dummies, page 13:
    "It is easier to direct opinion by 'pushing from behind' than by trying to stand in its way. So a basic technique is to pretend to be on the same side while offering up criticisms. Otherwise, the people who normally agree with your targets will perceive you as an antagonist and will filter out your comments."
    The "the victim of unwarranted left-wing criticism" coupled with "us liberals" is a dead giveaway.
    Don't you guys ever get beyond the first chapter in that book?

  31. umm – wanker is Brit slang, not to be taken any more literally than a Yank suggesting that a m***erf***er actually has intercourse with his, well . . . I think even one as thick as you can take it from there.

  32. Nobody ever dared question Caesar. But when Caligula roamed the streets he found the groveling bawdy lower class carried out sketches and plays on his desire to f*** sister.
    Colbert could have been dirty and given Bush the kind of treatment he really deserved, forgive him for being civil and not lowerinbg self to Rove's level.
    As noted, the bull-jerk jokeoff references of AWOL's equistrian massage tactics when noticed by wifey were not above the pale. Neither were the no WMDs chuckles that have no doubt had people at Bethesda, Walter reed and Landstuhl literally rolling in the aisles and Lieberman in stitches of his own.
    Nothing to see here, move along. Someone who married up and obsessed a**f***ing thinks it wasn't funny at all.
    A few self pronounced left pundits agree, eager to try and get their shot at a paying gig.
    Lighten up. Try some lubricant. Alcohol based or otherwise. Apply it liberally to areas of need.

  33. Cox directly benefitted (and still benefits) from the adoration of misogynists with her dirty girl shtick
    (see Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler).
    And what evidence do you have–you present none–of her liberal credentials? All she did as Wonkette was entertain the
    chattering classes with a** f***ing stories.

  34. Jaysus Mark, what'd'you do, forget the payment to the Duncan Black retirement party? And just WTF got into him? There aren't enough real enemies on the other side?
    This is why the Left will never hold power–there is no Left. Just a bunch of internecine squabbles.

  35. There are three salient points in this discussion.
    1. Press coverage of the dinner to a Pravda like extent, pretended that Colbert was not there. The MSM covered the dinner, depicted Bush as a humorous regular guy- the Friend of all Regular Guys as it would have been stated in the Soviet Press, and gave details about the Bush imitator. But during an unpopular and controversial war, a commedian stood in front of the press and President and took them savagely to task for lying the nation into war and mocked the press for "typing" rather than reporting. What Dau, Atrios, and others noted was that for whatever reason, "reporters" decided to keep their readers in ignorance of this fact.
    2. Cox published a work of dishonest hackery in which she falsely claimed that complaints about the Press censorship were actually complaints that Colbert's act was not acknoledged as funny. She presented this story using a rhetorical device common to totalitarian regimes of ridiculing the "whining" of dissidents from the official line.
    3. Mark's response (a) contained very dubious assertions such as an assertion that Cox had good credentials as a serious liberal political writer when she is actually only known as a writer of snide X-rated gossip and (b) followed the party line that dissidents are obviously irrationally angry.
    I think that sums it up. Everyone back out to Hate Week where we discuss Emmanuel Goldstein's irrational hatred of our Way of Life and Leader.

  36. M.A.R.K. was evidently a little itchy on the trigger finger, as has happened before, both Atrios-connected and not. Perhaps better to take a breather before waxing indignant … have a drink … who knows, wank a bit? (If anyone could be expected to be a proud, unrepentant wanker, it's Ana Marie Cox. In the more literal sense at least.)
    Anyway, as someone who reads Kleiman and Atrios daily, and who read Wonkette back in the AMC days, I would suggest that all & sundry lighten up. (Though I do wish Atrios hadn't dumped quite so hard on her book: ouch.)

  37. "This is why the Left will never hold power–there is no Left. Just a bunch of internecine squabbles."
    Wha-? Ana Marie Cox does not represent "the Left." She represents herself, and nothing else. She's built a career out of petty, crude, and thoroughly uncivil snark, much of it at the expense of Democrats. At best she's a pale imitation of Maureen Dowd, but with even less maturity or serious political commentary.
    Atrios' takedown of her was long overdue and richly deserved.

  38. Citizen K is correct.
    A bootlicking media corps that makes a critic of Bush into a nonperson is pretty much classic Stalinism.
    Bloggers getting mad about it is not Stalinism, by any stretch of the imagination.

  39. AMC is defending her witless and artless husband as much as anything else. It's insider nonsense and you bought it, Mark.
    You also used it as an opportunity to attack Atrios and Digby, which I find . . . interesting to say the least.

  40. Ms. Cox has "blue" credentials? I think you may want to check the definition of "blue" … or ask her husband. It doesn't mean what you think it means.

  41. I'm not here to hurl abuse at you. Not warranted. However, I've read both you and Atrios for a long time, and I wonder what drove you, seemingly out of the blue, to throw any rocks at all at Atrios?
    For one thing, no, I don't think Atrios is always "mad" at someone. He has lots of comments & observations, many snarky, but I only rarely have got the feeling he's "mad" at someone.
    You may believe that Atrios tries to provoke people and reactions. I don't know if this is just his nature or a blog strategy, but so what? You posts are often provocative as well.
    I guess my point, if I have one, is this: why throw rocks at Atrios, who I see as a member of the reality-based community, when there are so many other targets on the other side? I've never really seen your blog as a place I would go to find criticism of other blogs on the reality-preferent side of the fence.
    Not helpful. And, yes, OF COURSE he's going to throw them back.
    You guys are both good guys, and if you have differences, work them out in private. Otherwise, stop it, please.

  42. People use "wanker" over here pretty much exactly the way people use "jerk" (as a noun) back home. Which isn't surprising, since their literal meaning is much the same.
    It's never been regarded as sexist to call a woman a jerk. It's just that these days people usually skip straight to "bitch" instead.

  43. "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."
    Colbert is a comedian. He told jokes in front of an audience. The audience laughed sporadically and hesitantly, if at all. That's what "bombing" means.
    How about a counterexample: Let's say I'm watching a Dane Cook routine for some reason. I'm not laughing, of course, because it's Dane Cook. The crowd is rolling in the aisles, though. Now, is he bombing just because I don't like it? Of course not. Well, Colbert didn't somehow NOT bomb just because people who weren't within earshot at the time now think he was hilarious.

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