The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, October 10, 2005

Get ready for the Colbert Report

If I have a criticism of The Daily Show, it's that we need much more of it. Starting in mid-October, we'll get a promising spin-off, headed up by TDS's Stephen Colbert. In this interview about the show, he manages to demonstrate why many of us consider Comedy Central's offering as more news than the actual news.

Colbert, whose office is adorned with a 1972 Richard Nixon campaign poster, admits to being a Democrat. But, he says, "I'm not someone with a particular political ax to grind. I'm a comedian. I love hypocrisy."

When Colbert talks about skewering hypocrites, he makes clear that, like Stewart, he cares about politics as more than a punch line. He recalls Vice President Cheney, in a CNBC interview last year, being asked about having said it was "pretty well confirmed" that terrorist Mohammed Atta had met with an Iraqi official in Prague -- part of a White House attempt to demonstrate a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Cheney denied making the comment, but "The Daily Show" later aired a tape of a 2001 "Meet the Press" interview in which the vice president had said the Atta meeting was "pretty well confirmed."

"When Dick Cheney says, 'I never said that,' and then we play the tape, why did we do it?" Colbert says. "Why wasn't it done broadly? Because he wasn't speaking about something inconsequential. It wasn't like we were playing gotcha journalism over some quibble. It was over weapons of mass destruction. That's not advocacy journalism. That's objectivity in its most raw form."

And it points out the elephant in the room of contemporary journalism with its committment to passing on quotes rather than getting at the facts.