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Stephen Colbert: Truthiness of the times

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Hosting The Daily Show .
  3. Colbert - politician or activist.
  4. Major passions - acting and comedy.
  5. Stewart and controversy or the more serious side of politics.
  6. The Colbert Report.
    1. Funds and aggressive publicity blitz, backed by Murdoch's and Fox News President Richard Ailes.
    2. The most blatant example of Fox's influence.
    3. Jon Stewart - the first to demonstrate the less playful side of his comedic chops.
  7. The White House Correspondents' Association's annual dinner on April, 29th, 2006.
    1. The 20-minute routine performed by Colbert.
    2. The audience's reaction.
    3. Colbert - a well-known, well-loved, and well-respected satirical figure.
  8. Announcing his intentions of campaigning for president.
    1. The buzz following his announcement.
    2. The reaction from politicians.
    3. The rationales behind refusing Colbert's name on the South Carolina Democratic ballot.
    4. The real Colbert - fact a registered Democrat.
  9. Conclusion.

By any historical standards, the last decade has been an extremely eventful and difficult one for America. With the flawed and still-debated 2000 presidential election we witnessed a fault line in our democracy and the election of a politically radical president; September 11th forced many Americans to re-think our nation's worldwide standing and global role; the war in Iraq tested our economic, military, and political power, opening deep fissures in public opinion in the process. A quick look at the voting results of the 2004 election, with the blue states in the West and North East, and the red states everywhere in between, seemed to show an increasingly divided nation. Much of the news media seems to support this. If one were to tune in to any of the dozens of talk radio programs, or turn the television to the virulently pro-Bush, anti-liberal Fox News channel, one could quickly become convinced that America was in the middle of a full-blown ?culture war.? According to the Fox News channel, traditional conservative Americans are fighting a deeply rooted liberal conspiracy that is undermining the security and moral fabric of our fair nation. This could be a stretch, but Fox News isn't worried about stretching. Their facts aren't always correct, and their tactics aren't always fair, but they don't let these considerations get in their way.

[...] Writers for the Atlantic and ABC News online wrote lengthy analyses of Colbert's possible affects on the primaries, and The New York Times blog urged Colbert to keep his campaign going the sheer fun of Not everyone was amused. Some commentators took issue with his essentially making light of the entire presidential election, and Times London writer Andrew Sullivan, a fan of the show, wrote that ?Colbert's presidential run may be a step too (17). Eric Boehlert, columnist for the left-leaning Media Matters for America, called Colbert's announcement a publicity stunt designed to sell more books, and chastised mainstream media for its inattention to important matters ABC News columnist Jake Tapper's article on the announcement is headlined by the almost downcast question the '08 Election Becoming a as if he is disappointed, though not particularly surprised. [...]


[...] Truthiness was named Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster and the American Dialect Society, and is officially defined as quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts of facts known to be true? In Colbert's character's words, ?it's knowing with your gut, not thinking with your head? Colbert proved himself adept at shaping language to his advantage. He created another word later, in a July 2006 segment. Discussing the online encyclopedia wikipedia.org, Colbert invents the term ?wikiality,? or truth by popular consensus, around the idea that anybody can edit wikipedia entries, so if enough people write a falsity into an entry they can, by wikipedia's logic, create a truth Both of these concepts are central to the character's logic he doesn't have to be swayed by facts if his gut tells him otherwise, and facts themselves can and should be subject to manipulation. [...]


[...] Its political and ideological consistency, with complete indifference to actual facts or current events, succeeded not only in reaching an unprecedented number of households, but changing the way other networks worked. Says Jeff Cohen, a former MSNBC contributor, seeing that ?there was money in the cable news channels like MSNBC and CBS began to try to ?Out-fox Fox.? producers began mandating that for every two left wing commentators we had on the air, we needed three right said Cohen in interview on Outfoxed, Robert Greenwald's documentary on the network (11). [...]

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