Last Saturday was the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, where the press and president usually lightheartedly lampoon one another. After the event, while most of the press concentrated on the amusing W impersonator who “translated” W’s thoughts, the real story of the evening was Stephen Colbert’s scathingly humorous monologue, which took W, his administration, and the press to task in the guise of his alter ego of the host of The Colbert Report. Peter Daou of The Huffington Post comments:
Standing at the podium only a few feet from President Bush, Colbert launched an all out assault on the policies of this Administration. It was remarkable, though painful at times, to watch. It may also have been the first time that anyone has been this blunt with this President.
Those seated near Bush told E&P’s Joe Strupp, who was elsewhere in the room, that Bush had quickly turned from an amused guest to an obviously offended target as Colbert’s comments brought up his low approval ratings and problems in Iraq.
Several veterans of past dinners, who requested anonymity, said the presentation was more directed at attacking the president than in the past. Several said previous hosts, like Jay Leno, equally slammed both the White House and the press corps.
Strupp, in the crowd during the Colbert routine, had observed that quite a few sitting near him looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting – or too much speaking “truthiness” (Colbert’s made-up word) to power.
Some of the articles I’ve linked to above have quoted the more interesting bits, but you really need to see this as a video. For a video of the entire event, a torrent is available here. It didn’t take long for people to update the videos of Colbert’s portion to YouTube: here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (YouTube now limits the length of the clips you can upload). Daily Kos also has a complete transcript of Colbert’s monologue along with some more video links.
Update: Editor & Publisher followed up, reporting that:
Probably to no one’s surprise, Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, hailed the performance of his stablemate Stephen Colbert at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents dinner. Colbert’s lampooning of the president and the press has generated a good deal of praise and criticism.
The article goes on, and one quote in particular struck me as hilarious: “We’ve never been prouder of him, but HOLY SHIT,” Stewart said. 🙂
Update 2: The Washington Post has a long article entitled The Colbert Blackout that delves into the lack of coverage and fallout over Colbert’s monologue.
Update 3: The New York Times, among most of the mainstream media in initially glossing over Colbert’s performance, now has an article entitled “After Press Dinner, the Blogosphere Is Alive With the Sound of Colbert Chatter” (article may require registration; sorry) that includes a half-hearted mea culpa.
Update 4: onegoodmove has a video from The Daily Show (embedded QuickTime video) in which Jon Stewart discussed the White House Correspondents Dinner, calling Colbert’s monologue “ballsalicious.” 🙂