September 20, 2011

The Stephen Colbert SuperPAC confusion

Man, I just do not get the whole Stephen Colbert Super PAC thing.

I got that it was initially funny because Colbert was making fun of the Supreme Court decision that corporations could spend unlimited money on political campaigns.

Heck, I even got it that Colbert took his request to create a Super PAC to the Federal Election Commission and made a media circus of the event.
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What I don't get is where the gag is going now.

I understand that Stephen Colbert is not the character he plays on television. From everything I understand about the man, I get that he leans left and doesn't agree with the conservative ideology typical of Fox News, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and probably even Mitt Romney. I think I generally agree with his political leanings, but because he's so good at staying in character, it's tough for me to always tell. He doesn't often reveal the man behind the suit.

What I don't get now, however, is what Colbert plans to do with all the money that he's collecting via his Super PAC. He's made a couple of commercials that aired in Iowa around the Straw Poll time, but the ads just seemed to be ridiculous pastiches of the typical conservative-leaning political ads. They didn't seem to be doing anything other than mocking the already-airing conservative ads.

I don't understand what Colbert is trying to accomplish. Is he just taking money so that he can show his jokes to a wider audience, to saturate the airwaves beyond his Comedy Central time slot? Is he going to eventually endorse an actual candidate in the 2012 election or is he going to keep airing ads mocking the candidates that he doesn't like (but mocking them in ways that I'm not sure every conservative voter would really know is mocking.)

I'm not sure I'm enjoying the Super PAC because it starts to blur the line between the real election and the coverage of the election. I know Colbert is far from a true, traditional newsman, but at what point does the mocking of an election begin to damage the respect that we have for the elected?

Cinéma vérité can go too far, and I fear that Colbert's cinema may just do that.

There's been a lot of press coverage of the Super PAC - NYTimes, NPR, Colbert Report, NPR again. I think in the end, I like the Daily Illini's take on the Super PAC:
The slanted media tells viewers about the madness of the circus. Colbert put viewers in the show. Now they know how serious, and dangerous, the fun and games really are. That is as straight as news gets.


Smamy said...

Maybe it is too much to hope for, but do you think actual campaign finance reform might be the endgame? I don't underestimate the power that Colbert and Stewart might actually have when they turn from comedy and take an issue seriously. The public responds to them, and I can see Stewart (more than Colbert) actually being able to enact some pretty significant changes if he decided to try. Just a thought.

achilles3 said...

respect for the elected?

PHSChemGuy said...

Brilliant take from Lawrence Lessig in his new book. I'm partway through the book now. I'll update once I get there.