The Blog Squad

Monday, June 05, 2006

Truthiness in (Political) Advertising

One has to wonder if the people working for Harris Miller, who will oppose Jim Webb in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate June 13, are either (a) stupefyingly out of touch or (2) on the cutting edge of American politics and culture. The reason I ponder this is because of one tiny reference in the direct mail piece I got the other day. It slams Webb repeatedly for his conservative leanings as evidenced by quotes praising Ronald Reagan and his votes for George W. Bush and George Allen. And then it offers this quote (highlighted in yellow for extra effect): “I may change parties, but I don’t change positions on the issues.”

The source?

The Colbert Report.

As I say, either these guys are completely cut off from the culture and have no idea that the Colbert Report is a comedy show, OR it just proves why the Daily Show and its progeny are so influential. It’s been reported that a healthy percentage of young adults gets its news from Jon Stewart, recognizing that satire -- in this case a fake news broadcast -- often distills facts into truth.

The Colbert Report (don‘t pronounce the T at the end of either word) puts Stephen Colbert in the role of a Bill O’Reilly -- a pugnacious conservative commentator who offers up segments like “Movies that are Destroying America.”

So what exactly does a Jim Webb quote from the Colbert Report do for Harris Miller in his political advertising? I guess that depends on the voter. Many will have no idea what the Colbert Report is and will take it for a straight news source and confer whatever legitimacy they would give to any news organization. Others will know what the Colbert Report is but still accept it as legitimate because, after all, Jim Webb said it. And still others, yours truly included, will laugh our heads off at the absurdity -- the very idea that politics and comedy have become barely distinguishable from each other.


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