I urge you to listen to Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Alternatively, you can read a transcript here. (Don’t spear me! I don’t read Kos. I was just link-following.) It’s flat-out hilarious. Don’t mind the non-laughing prez, press, and co. because that just struck too close to home to be funny.
This had to be the most powerful line: “I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.”
Folks, this is satire that cuts straight to the bone. To tell you the truth, I can’t even laugh at that statement. Scientifically, a component of laughter is a sign that the danger is passed. I can’t laugh because the danger has not passed. We are living in a world of “truthiness” so to speak.
In case you’re behind, “truthiness is the quality by which a person purports to know something emotionally or instinctively, without regard to evidence or to what the person might conclude from intellectual examination” (from Wikipedia). Honestly, when Stephen Colbert coined that word, I think he captured the zeitgeist of America in the 21st century.
It’s all captured in that quote I gave from Colbert’s routine. We are all show and no facts. The media’s complicit in it. I wouldn’t call them sycophants of Bush. I also wouldn’t call the press a monolithic liberal entity (aside from Fox News). The media is just a product of our culture. The American people don’t want the truth; they want sensationalism. We want to be comforted after 9/11, so they give us some nice pictures. Stand proud Bush and comfort us emotionally. Media, do your duty and trumpet the uplifting truthiness to all.
Sensationalism… truthiness… Aren’t those two different things? Am I seeing a link where there isn’t one? Am I guilty of twisting things into one overarching narrative?
Haha, maybe, but if so, I’m a victim of the culture too. Still, I’ll make my case that it’s all one in the same. From the Wikipedia entry on truthiness: ‘Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said “truthiness” means “truthy, not facty.” “The national argument right now is, one, who’s got the truth and, two, who’s got the facts,” he said. “Until we can manage to get the two of them back together again, we’re not going make much progress.’
The truth and facts have been separated. Sure, the news media may report “facts” but they only report the flashy facts. We want the whole truth. I think we’re getting tired of all packaging and no substance. I think we’re getting re-Enlightened.
It’s not a right-left, media-government thing. It’s everybody. It’s all the politicians. It’s all the media. We’re sick of all of you, frankly.
Finally, I will leave you with this passage from an earlier weblog entry: “Face it, the news media is failing the American people. I say this not as a lame media-bashing blogger, but as an American citizen. I say this as an American citizen who demands to know more about what’s really important. I want to know what my government has done in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. I want to know why it took so long for the government to respond to Katrina. Instead, all I get is the blame game in the latter story, and a story about an Australian news outlet regarding the former. I want to know, not to play the blame game, and try to attack the Bush administration. I want to know in order to force the government to fix what’s going on. I want to know if the anti-torture bill has had any effect. Believe it or not, public opinion does have some sway on politicians. If the news media did its job, the American people could help fix these things merely by voicing their disgust.”