Monday, April 2, 2012

21st Century News: The Colbert Report

I watched "The Colbert Report" to document the coverage of the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates. Stephen Colbert's character on the show is that of a conservative Catholic who always has something to say. But this is done in a satirical way that does not push those beliefs onto his viewers. The main audience that Colbert is aiming towards is young college aged adults who would probably watch "The Daily Show" that is on before this program. Although the show is intended for the younger crowd, my 72 year-old grandmother loves to watch his show and actually agrees with some of the points that he makes.

The main premise of the show is to entertain, it is on Comedy Central. It should not be taken as a hard news show that people should get all their information from. But writing it off as total drivel should not be done either. Other television programs try to showcase themselves as unbiased and as a reliable news source, when they are nothing more than opinion. "The Colbert Report" plays off of this idea by presenting the information in a satirical version of these other shows. While other station show only what they believe in, "The Colbert Report" gathers all the clips and shows how silly the other networks are. Over the weeks of watching the program clips from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN and articles from The New York Post were used to show the slant from those media sources. I think that by incorporating the different views "The Colbert Report" offers a broader view on issues rather than watching only one of the other networks.

Behind every joke there is some truth, and through watching the program I was actually informed about some events happening in the political world. Some of the guests that Colbert had on his program also provided a sense of information and legitimacy like Christiane Amanpour. She is a well traveled reporter who is well respected by most people and yet she went on "The Colbert Report". Another guest that was on the show was Robert Kagan who is a foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney. Colbert asked Kagan about what the Obama administration had done in foreign policy, like the death of Bin Laden or al-Gaddafi. Now instead of crucifying either side, Kagan conceded that Obama did well even though he works for Romney.

The main candidates that Colbert talked about were Romney and Gingrich. They were all highlighted and then dragged through the mud over the course of the two weeks. Even Obama was featured on the show as both a positive and a negative. I think that this really showcased what some of the younger Americans think about the presidential race, that it's a joke. An example was when Newt Gingrich was being sued for using The Eye of the Tiger as his theme without getting permission. In retaliation, the original lead singer of Survivor came on and sang Gringrich's book without permission. Colbert then provided that the Washington Post said that 80% of inmates would vote for Gingrich.

Romney was behind Santorum in the polls in Michigan which is Romney's home state. Then the show played an awkward clip of Romney from C-SPAN from campaigning in Michigan. Romney just rambled on about how the trees are the perfect height in Michigan, his love of lakes, and his car knowledge. Colbert then commented on the perfect height of the trees so a person could hang themselves after they lose their home state primary.

Santorum was mentioned less but he was still represented. A "Face the Nation" clip showed Santorum saying that we should be the earth's husband because he claimed that Obama was a radical environmentalist who is a member of a tree hugging theology. Colbert then made a joke about being the earth's husband because we would "be on top as God intended and frack her all night long." Then they played a clip from 2008 of Santorum saying that Satan in attacking the United States alone. Colbert then made an argument that because Satan's eyes are directed only on the US, God must be causes the famines, genocides, and disasters in all the other countries.

In conclusion, I think that "The Colbert Report" presents a more balanced perspective than some other biased media outlets such as Fox News or MSNBC. Young voters have to be exposed to what is happening in the news and if they watch it on a Comedy Central program that is better than being totally uninformed about the world. Now I know that I am extremely cynical and can dissect humor and lies, but others might not and take this show at face value. But there are a lot of people who do the same for other opinion based news shows. Overall I think that the whole political field is a very entertaining arena and Colbert is just capitalizing on it.

Kristina Seiger
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

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