Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On the interpretation of silence

Apologies for continuing to harp on Stephen Colbert's performance at Saturday's White House Correspondents dinner, but as much as I liked his act, the reaction of the mainstream press has been even more interesting. As I pointed out in my previous post, it was mostly a non-reaction, beautifully documented in all its lock step uniformity in a very nice piece at Media Matters.

As many have pointed out, in the era before the internet, few would have ever heard about the event. But the huge response on to the video clips posted on the internet by the left has forced out a belated, grudging response from the mainstream media, of which this rather childish piece in the Washington Post is a pretty good example.
What's more, you may be interested to know that there's a MEDIA COVERUP of the Colbert performance. The MSM don't want you to know about how the Comedy Central man made them look bad! (Never mind that the thing was carried on C-SPAN and the video is widely available online. I played two clips of Colbert on my CNN show, so apparently I didn't get the memo.)
Such a well used straw man. Any criticism of the media's failure to report on something is dismissed as a conspiracy theory, hence not worthy of serious consideration. Nonetheless, as Leo Strauss was so fond of pointing out, silences can be significant.

The MSM covered every virtually every other aspect of the event, including long bits on the guests entering and the afterparty. But they didn't cover the keynote speaker. It seems just a little odd. And, looking at past coverage of such events, they have tended to cover the keynote speaker, in particular when the jokes were pointedly critical of Clinton.

I will take this guy's word for it that he did actually show some clips, but uniformity of non-reporting remains well documented across an very wide range of media outlets. And as far as CSPAN goes, they cover everything but lack in the way of an audience.

So this silence still seems significant enough to me.

It is not so much a matter of conspiracy as it is of "the hive mind thinks alike." Colbert managed to trip their switch.

In part, it was a hard story for the media to report because most of the jokes and all of the humor of Colbert's presentation depend on a view of reality that they have largely neglected to report. In this case in fact, it is undoubtedly the majority view of reality.

Much has been made of George Bush's plummeting poll numbers. But, as bad as those are, that is not what I am referring to. I mean the majority view of reality, globally. In a poll of this constituency, Bush would be lucky to poll a whole number.

So, never having reported much about this reality in which our leader is an incompetent and venal sociopath who talks to god, lies as a matter of routine and reflex, is bankrupting the future, and blows up countries without really giving it too much thought, it is a bit much to introduce all this via a comedy act which inconveniently, embarassingly even, all points this out. And then in one of the best part of his act he has the temerity to go on to explicitly tell the press to its face that it has become little more than a stenographer to power. Such bad manner hit a little too close to home.


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