You're Doing it Wrong



If this is the sum total of your criticism of a television show, you should probably try to learn to like television again:
And therein lies the rub: Colbert’s entire television career has been as a political satirist. He knows nothing else, which is why it’s no surprise four more presidential candidates will be joining The Late Show in the coming days (Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul). Outside of Biden and a possible announcement, is a political late-night program the right course? Because outside of a very select few, most politicans are packaged, tedious, boring to the masses.
As for Colbert’s standing in the late night race, I’m sticking to my original bet from back in April of 2014 (when it first announced he would replace Letterman) on where he’ll ultimately end up when everything settles in and the curiosity factor fades: Third place, just like his predecessor in the final years of his career. No magical analysis or detail really needed here: Kimmel and Fallon are simply more talented, more experienced (in playing themselves), possess more range, connect with younger viewers better and are decidedly more apolitical than the 51-year-old Colbert, who was signed by CBS more because of cost-effectiveness than anything else after Jon Stewart was deemed too expensive to sign.
Maybe things can change and improve from a rookie debut (although doing this every night is far different than having almost a year to prepare). But it’s already clear that Stephen Colbert the person isn’t very different from Stephen Colbert the character, save for the sarcasm and edginess missing. And as a result, the new late-night host for the Tiffany Network better get used to seeing not gold, not silver, but plenty of bronze when the ratings books come out after the dust settles a few months from now.
Joe Concha goes on to highlight Laura Ingraham's quote from Twitter. Now, I don't want to indict someone based on a tweet or a citation, but if this is any indication of actual criticism, you're going to be let down when you realize Ingraham is a long-time partisan hack who doesn't read and has little or no talent or ability.
Given what we've seen after the first week of Colbert, I just don't think you can say that Kimmel or Fallon are better at interviewing people or making news. This goes back to the reason why Phil Donahue ended up getting canned from television--there is no legitimate reason why he was fired, other than the fact that he was "partisan" and "the most popular show on MSNBC," which coincided with him being against the Iraq War in 2003.
If there's one prediction I'd like to make, it's this--Colbert will be attacked, endlessly, if he shows any partisan slant because it is incredibly dangerous to be popular and liberal on television unless you act goofy once in a while and present to threat to anyone in power. This is how the media handled his speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner:
Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts write in The Washington Post's gossip column: "The reviews from the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner are in, and the consensus is that President Bush and Bush impersonator Steve Bridges stole Saturday's show -- and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert's cutting satire fell flat because he ignored the cardinal rule of Washington humor: Make fun of yourself, not the other guy.
" 'You have to have a great deal of confidence to do self-deprecating humor, especially when you're being attacked day in and day out,' said Landon Parvin, who helped Bush and Bridges write the jokes contrasting Bush's public voice with his supposed inner thoughts."
It's not entirely clear from whom, besides Bush's own joke-writer, Argetsinger and Roberts divined what they described as the consensus view. But it's a safe bet that, at a minimum, they were speaking for The Washington Post newsroom.
Paul Bedard writes for U.S. News: "Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert's biting routine at the White House Correspondents Association dinner won a rare silent protest from Bush aides and supporters Saturday when several independently left before he finished.
" 'Colbert crossed the line,' said one top Bush aide, who rushed out of the hotel as soon as Colbert finished. Another said that the president was visibly angered by the sharp lines that kept coming.
" 'I've been there before, and I can see that he is [angry],' said a former top aide. 'He's got that look that he's ready to blow.'
That was almost ten years ago and no one's getting over it any time soon. What is now considered one of the greatest examples of speaking truth to power (never mind being right about everything) was once considered rude and ill-mannered. Colbert not only brings actual danger and excitement to everything he does, he also represents a serious threat to the continuation of a media status quo that favors ignorant centrism and glib conservatives pretending to be fair.
Yeah, no one ever said anything like that about either Jimmy ever.