A new one from the Committee for Truth(iness?) in Politics. Geraghty loves, loves, loves it but I’m guessing roughly 97 out of 100 people who watch it will end up saying “Who the hell’s that guy?” when Colby’s photo flashes by. For all the media hype he and Stewart enjoy, his audience clocks in at around 1.5 million per night; to put that in perspective, the very low-key Bret Baier does about 2.1 million on Fox. That’s not to belittle Colbert’s numbers — his time slot is much later than Baier’s and his cultural cachet is such that he can turn people out for a big jokey rally on the National Mall — but when push comes to shove, how many viewers of this ad will (a) recognize him and (b) feel so angered that it’ll change either their vote or their plans to stay home on election day? Colbert’s testimony strikes me as a classic example of something that pundits and media watchers chatter about but which means next to nothing to average voters, who forget about it almost instantly.
Two clips for you, one of the ad and the other of Stewart defending Colbert’s testimony on grounds that Congress isn’t doing anything with its time anyway, in which case why not send in the clowns? Watching the clip, I thought of his interview with Tucker Carlson a few years ago laying into “Crossfire” for being fundamentally unserious and even harmful to national debate because it offered rote talking points in lieu of thoughtful give-and-take discussion. Was it more fundamentally unserious than … Colbert offering to show the panel pictures from his colonoscopy? Again, Stewart would say that Colby didn’t lower the bar because the bar for congressional action simply can’t go any lower, but surely he would have done his cause more good by testifying in a serious manner, no? He had a galaxy of cameras on the scene and news editors everywhere hungry for soundbites and yet, apart from a brief interlude where he dropped character to talk about how hard the conditions are for migrant workers, it was basically “corn-packer” jokes. Seems like a waste.