Here's a great example: Stephen Colbert was invited by a flunky to speak at the White House Press Corps dinner earlier this year.
One of the best lines: "Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32 percent approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in 'reality'. And reality has a well-known liberal bias."
The reaction? Zero. The three network news covered the dinner, but did not mention Colbert once. The print press ignored it. "It wasn't funny."
Until the video popped up on the web. Colbert's audience shot up 40% in one week. The video became the #1 download on iTunes. It was viewed some 3 million times in two days. Millions of people passed it around via email. C-SPAN forced YouTube to remove the video, but that hardly stopped it being passed around.
The press simply couldn't see what was in front of them because they only see the Washington version of reality.
We all knew what was going to happen in Iraq. We know what is happening there. And we know what will happen. But the White House, the NYT, the Washington Post, and all the people who admire them have been ideologically blinded.
This is one of the most curious remarks I've ever read. It implies that after the press initially gave the Bushies a pass on the run-up to the invasion it has been 'ideologically blinded' ever since, to the extent that the NY Times, the LA Times, and the Washington Post are even now supporting Bush and the 'war.' I don't think you regularly read any of these papers. (I know Irene doesn't, but she has some way of intuiting what they say and don't say.)
That Colbert's remarks were ignored by the 'mainstream media' isn't evidence that that the papers in question are ideologically blind. It's evidence that they were just caught flat footed. Small journalistic blunder. The Colbert story is not the world.
Old story from the Times:
May 22, 2006
That After-Dinner Speech Remains a Favorite Dish By NOAM COHEN
The after-dinner speech that refuses to go away has scored another distinction: top of the charts.
An audio version of the roast of President Bush by Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central rose to the rank of No. 1 album at Apple's iTunes store on Saturday, three weeks to the night of the White House Correspondents Dinner. Also in the Top 10 were new releases by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam and Paul Simon.
The audio version of Mr. Colbert's speech was delivered to iTunes through Audible.com, a company that provides audio content for downloading, including books, radio shows and shorter performances, and costs $1.95 to download. Neither C-Span nor Audible was able to say how many downloads there had been. Mr. Colbert was traveling and could not be reached.
By many accounts, Mr. Colbert's performance landed with a thud among his influential audience of journalists and politicians, who were more overtly enthusiastic about a comedy routine involving Mr. Bush and a professional George W. Bush impersonator. But the broadcast of the speech is enjoying a lucrative afterlife online, an unusual development for its owner, the nonprofit cable network C-Span.
Earlier this month, C-Span ordered more than 40 versions of the speech removed from the popular video sharing sites youtube.com and ifilm. C-Span said it ordered the clips removed to assert its copyright on recordings of the performance, and shortly thereafter allowed Google Video to stream it free. In the two weeks since, it has been at or near the top of Google's most popular videos. Over the weekend, it was still No. 4 there.
C-Span says it owns anything it films with its own cameras -- that is, everything that appears on its three channels except for what is said on the floor of the House and Senate, where government cameras are used.
The network was invited to cover the correspondents dinner, said Rob Kennedy, executive vice president of C-Span, with the understanding that there would be no restrictions on what it could film.
Now that another iteration of the performance, the Audible recording at $1.95 a download, is spreading among the public, C-Span, which was founded in 1979 and gets 95 percent of its financing from the cable industry, says it is uncomfortable with the impression it is a commercially minded content provider.
Under its agreement with Audible, Mr. Kennedy said, C-Span receives a nominal monthly fee and Audible can choose what material to make available at its site and via iTunes.
The network says copies of a DVD of the event, priced at $24.95, have sold only in the ''very low thousands.'' Providing DVD's ''is something we have been doing all along,'' Mr. Kennedy said. ''It is just a small piece for us, and I would not characterize it as a financial windfall.''
The attention has had a value, Mr. Kennedy conceded. ''We're a network that tries to provide a public service, and we enjoy it when people find our network.''
Audible says much of its other material has reached the top of the iTunes charts, including an audio version of the short story that was the basis of ''Brokeback Mountain.'' Likewise, free C-Span downloads, including testimony before the 9/11 Commission, have been immensely popular; but the Colbert routine is the first material from C-Span to reach the pay-to-download charts.
Donald R. Katz, the chief executive of Audible, said it was not such a surprise, because Mr. Colbert's speech was in essence ''a comedy routine,'' and in this case, ''you had to not be there to get it -- the people in the room were not willing to join in the merriment.''
Mr. Colbert's speech has also become a cause célèbre among many commentators, writing online and off, who charged that the mainstream press ignored his performance because it was so mocking of the president and of the Washington media.
Last week, the public editor of The New York Times, Byron Calame, writing on his Web journal about the paper's lack of initial reporting on Mr. Colbert's speech, printed a statement from Richard Stevenson, a deputy bureau chief for The Times in Washington.
Mr. Calame said he agreed with Mr. Stevenson that there should have been ''a separate story that anticipated the reaction the routine generated and explained its political significance, rather than waiting to capture it after the fact.'' ------------- Robert Paul Reed College
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