Jul 29, 2020
The Colbert Curriculum: Stephen Colbert’s Viewers Know More Stuff About Things (Video)
Stephen Colbert took a victory lap Wednesday in response to a recent study showing that viewers of The Colbert Report were better informed about campaign finance laws — especially the Citizens United decision — than people who got their news elsewhere. “That’s right. I did a better job informing the public about campaign finance reform than every other news organization — and CNN.” The researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, whose name is too long for easy tweeting, said that Colbert’s success came from his project of setting up and raising funds for his own super PAC, which gave him the chance to mock the system’s absurdity. The stunt included regular consultations with former Federal Election Commission chair Trevor Potter, who advised Colbert on what he needed to do to stay marginally within the law, and so, according to lead researcher Bruce Hardy, viewers could “see the process, as opposed to a news source where they would just give you the inverted pyramid kind of structure and tell you, ‘This is the way it is.’”
Or as Colbert put it, “So let that be a lesson to you, Fox News. Show, don’t tell. If you want your viewers to have a better understanding of your editorial positions, they need to see you sucking Ted Cruz’s balls.”
Colbert then apologized to his viewers for actually informing them, since his goal all along had been to “feel the news at you from my gut” — to be truthy, not truthful. And so he pledged to work harder at being less informative, perhaps by emulating cable news fluff pieces more effectively. Like maybe stories about burrito vending machines, or this Fox News preview of a story about a “baby squirrel in a cast. Need we say any more?”
Stay truthy, my friends.