The Misunderstood Stephen Colbert

What Everyone Is Talking About

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NEW YORK ( -- Very few viewers of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" take the show's interviews for anything other than what they are presented as: a chance to poke fun at conventional news interviews and mine it for comedy gold.
Knows how to get good quotes.
Knows how to get good quotes.

But Stephen Colbert, a comedian who has adopted an on-air persona that mocks self-important real-life TV journalists, seems to have a knack for being misunderstood by the very folks he is skewering. The very folks Watercooler always presumed would be in the best frame of mind to get his jokes. (Take a moment here to think back on the White House Correspondents' Dinner speech Colbert gave, and the incredibly long and complicated ruckus that ensued.)

Now a recent segment on the show seems to have caught the attention of other TV journalists, who, of course, immediately attached waaaaaay too much significance to it. Congressman Robert Wexler from Florida was featured in an ongoing show segment, "Better Know A District," in which he and Colbert talked, none too seriously, about oil drilling off the coast of Florida, where U.S. troops should be redeployed, and a bit of joshing about what would cause Wexler to lose the election in November if he had an opponent running against him -- which he doesn't. After much coaching, Colbert got him to say "I enjoy cocaine because it is a fun thing to do."

Fox News was the first to jump on this sound bite, and ran it as a nearly straight news item helmed by anchor Brian Wilson about what Democrats will say when they have no opponents. Then NBC's "The Today Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America" jumped in with their own segments that asked why politicians would ever agree to appear on Colbert's show when he ends up making fun of them?

Colbert hit back with a segment lampooning the "serious" journalism of the morning shows by showing a montage of segments including "tan-o-rexics" and a snake that swallowed an electric blanket. "The Colbert Report," he explained, "is so complex, it demands a lot of its viewers, especially old news guys like Matt Lauer." But he went on to make a valid point about why the politicians agree to come on his show. They are the very ones that the normal media outlets only give airtime to once they are embroiled in a scandal, even if its a fake one created by a comic.
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