Mocking the Mockery

stephen colbertI just did a Google search for “prima donna” halfway expecting to find “Chuck Todd” as a synonym for the term.

Definition two was close: “A very temperamental person with an inflated view of their [sic] own talent or importance.”

Todd is an NBC TV celebrity news hound. He is in high dudgeon over popular TV comic Stephen Colbert’s fake run for president.

“He is making a mockery of the system,” Todd recently complained at a college forum. He added that Colbert and Jon Stewart, Colbert’s sidekick in satire, are “….mocking what we’re doing.” By “we” he meant the media.

This old newspaper reporter hopes Colbert and Stewart keep pouring it on.

Neither is mocking the system. They are mocking what’s mocking the system: super PACs and the gazillions of dollars they are lavishing on candidates – most of them Republicans.

I guess Todd wanted to show he was a “fair and balanced” journalist by conceding that the “process” of choosing presidential candidates is “a mess.”

But he also is bothered that Colbert’s “agenda…may be anti-Republican.” Never mind that Herman Cain, the former GOP presidential candidate, played along with Colbert’s spoof.

And so what if Colbert’s agenda is “anti-Republican?” Any GOP-friendly comedian-satirist – evolution-doubting Ben Stein, say – is free to make a bogus bid (or a real run) for the Oval Office and trot out an “anti-Democratic agenda.”

On the other hand, Todd’s on the money when he said Colbert is mooning the Fourth Estate. I suspect that’s mostly what got Todd’s goat.

Colbert, who pretends to be another vapid, right-wing Fox News-style TV talking head, has been at it for years. He famously fricasseed capital city media VIPs like Todd at the 2006 White House press corps dinner. It was while George W. Bush was commander in chief.

Colbert didn’t just roast Bush. He damned the media glitterati with feigned praise:

“Over the last five years you people were so good — over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.”

berry craigThe dinner was not a good time for the news worthies. The Washington Post said Colbert’s shtick “fell flat” and The New York Times didn’t even report the parody, according to Times Columnist Frank Rich.

“But to the Beltway’s bafflement, Colbert’s riff went viral overnight, ultimately to have a marathon run as the most popular video on iTunes,” Rich added. “The cultural disconnect between the journalism establishment and the public it aspires to serve could not have been more vividly dramatized.”

Anyway, I imagine much of the public thinks Colbert’s satire is spot on, too. But could it be that Todd is still steamed at Colbert for daring to suggest that media luminaries like him might be more lapdog than watchdog?

“By all means let’s mock the old mainstream media as they preen and party on in a Washington ballroom,” Rich also wrote of the big-time media’s close encounter of the worst kind with Colbert in ’06.

Berry CraigAnd let’s mock them in ’12 and as long as they, like Todd, continue to sizzle with clueless self-righteousness.

“What Colbert is doing is far more edifying and far more informative than any interview Chuck Todd has offered,” Nicole Belle suggested on the Crooks & Liars Internet website. “But because it’s not from a Very Serious Villager, like Todd, it’s dismissed summarily.”

While Todd dismisses — and disses — Colbert’s sassy send up of the media, John and Jane Q Public don’t seem to be sharing his umbrage.

Berry Craig

Published by the LA Progressive on January 22, 2012
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.