By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Squirming in D.C.

If you’ve only read the transcript of Stephen Colbert’s appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner, you’ve got to stop what you’re doing right now and watch it. The squirming among the press corps and the near-total lack of laughter — despite the fact that Colbert’s monologue is absolutely hilarious — make this one of those priceless oh-my-God moments. And check out Colbert’s collaboration with Helen Thomas.

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  1. Al Toid

    Personally, what I find most bothersome is that the media (other than the blogosphere) haven’t touched on it more. They’ve put a couple of the one-liners in, as well as commenting on Mr. and Mrs. Bush’s close-mouthed exit, but that was about it.There’s far more coverage to the President’s routine than Colbert’s and I thought Colbert’s was much better, much more biting and far more newsworthy.(I’ve seen comments that refer to this as his Don Imus moment, but alas I hadn’t seen Don Imus roast President Clinton. Or perhaps as Colbert’s Harry Taylor moment.)Regardless, it was funny, blistering, and when I wasn’t laughing outloud, I stared open-mouthed that he had the huevos to say some of that.-J

  2. Anonymous

    I’m certainly not pro-Bush, or part of the Washington news media, and I like Helen Thomas, and I like Dan Kennedy, etc, etc. etc.But I don’t think Colbert’s routine was that funny. Maybe one out of ten jokes.

  3. Morley Safer

    I agree, Anonymous 4:36 (which sounds like a passage from the bible). Colbert’s parody routine was great when he was on with Jon Stewart in short spurts, OK for the first month of the Colbert Report and is now just pretty yawn inducing.I watched the whole thing on C-SPAN yesterday and didn’t crack more than a smile. There have been some very funny correspondents dinners. This one (at least Colbert’s portion and the ridiculous dueling Bushes segment) was not one of them.

  4. magschmooz

    The Helen Thomas video was outstanding, and Colbert’s dinner performance had only one flaw…It was SO ACCURATE that it was funny/sad not funny/funny…Bush is O’Reilly is Colbert…No degrees of seperation

  5. tony schinella

    It was brilliant. I read the piece in E&P where a lot of folks were complaining about how “vicious” Colbert was. I guess folks forget how “vicious” Imus was to the Clintons when he hosted. Having said that, Colbert was hilarious and accurate … as was Imus.

  6. Anonymous

    Colbert wasn’t being funny. He was being serious. It’s what makes the performance truly ingenious and unbelievably magnificent. What on earth are these correspondents doing at this masquerade with an administration that wants to subpoena and intimidate them into compliance and silence? Colbert is facing attacks for appearing “too caustic,” “too biting,” too “severe.” How about too accurate? The press corps is squealing becauce Colbert has shamed them to the marrow. The White House and its blog-olytes because Bush was finally pantsed in public. (This is a great line you could really hear Bush saying: “I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”) Irony of ironies, Colbert the Comedy Central gag man has become the last guy with the granite to behave like a real, serious WH correspondent. Every gaping silence and uncomfortable pause was a moment of deafening comedic success, in which Colbert scored higher the more he generated embarrassed quiet. It takes courage and nerve not to be a crowd-pleaser. However, the Helen Thomas bit was two times too long.

  7. Paul

    I thought it was hilarious. The insider Washington press corps didn’t, mainly because the joke was on them — much more than on the President. This desperately needed to happen and bravo for Stephen for finally doing it. I loved the moment where he urged the press to spend more time with their families and maybe find time to write that novel about the “intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know – fiction!”

  8. Paddy

    Good God Colbert was right true and brave. Yes he was the brat at the “Beltway Cool Kids table” (Charlie Pierce’s phrase). A pox on all ’em!

  9. chutney

    While the Bush clone bit may have gotten more press immediately, the Colbert performance will be a slow cooker. The Bush clone bit will be quickly forgotten, but the Colbert bit will be remembered for a long while.

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