Every news desk loves a video of dogs singing or some wacky kid upstaging one of their own. Hahaha! Those lovable foibles of life, aren’t they charming?
But when, instead of mocking one of those innocuous “life’s little annoyances,” comedy serves up the content that the media could have and should have provided their audience, the industry is filled with consternation. “What if the joke goes too far?” they wonder. “What will the consequences be?”
Enter Exhibit A: Stephen Colbert’s SuperPAC, generously titled Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow. The entirely above-board, legitimate SuperPAC has been approved by the Federal Elections Commission under the rules of political engagement as they exist in this country. It stands as evidence of the insanely-permissive state of our politics where money is concerned and cries out for traditional media attention… to the issue itself. But that’s not what is happening. Instead, we get articles such as yesterday’s @NYTimes piece, filled to overflowing with quotations identical in their DNA to this one:
“He is taking on a serious subject that many Americans find deadly dull and is educating the broader public on why it matters and what is at stake,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. Still, she adds, “it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, like a specific campaign or the electoral system.”
*Still*, she adds. *But*, they say. This whole thing could just go way too far.
Why would it go too far? What would happen if it did? How is it possible that election law would allow something so silly to occupy the legitimate space of our electoral system? No answer. No investigation. No interest. The media is simply not that interested in finding out what drives the process, they only want to know why someone else is doing their job.
if the machinations of election law are “deadly dull,” they aren’t anymore, thanks to Stephen Colbert. They’ve been made silly, injected with the reassuring humor that humans crave. Here is the opportunity to delve into the subject like never before at a time when we need it like never before.
But no. Better to caution Stephen Colbert that he might go to far than to meet him half way.