If you’ve been untouched by the heat, the flames concern big media’s choice to almost completely ignore Stephen Colbert. As the evening’s featured speaker, Colbert had the combined audacity, courage and apparent job security to give Bush, the Administration and the press corp one of the most extended, blistering and comprehensive rakings demonstrated in years.
In its limp and patronizing place, most outlets — including the NYT — profiled (and made hay from images of) a routine orchestrated by the White House between Bush and a GDub impersonator.
For the newswire equivalent of the white wash, you’ve got to appreciate this newswire shot which was supposed to somehow capture the Bush/Colbert exchange. The caption simply read: “U.S. President George W. Bush laughes while listening to comedian Stephen Colbert.” Of course, the image is no way free of tension with those narrowed eyes, the dramatically retreating lean, and that full flush. But who attends so closely, especially when the caption runs interference for both the visual and actual events?
(For clarity’s sake, the montage above is my construction, juxtaposing still frame shots of each man at about the same moment — mid-way through the speech. If you watch the video, I believe it’s where Colbert links Bush’s love of clearing brush with his interest in creating alternative energy sources. The goal, according to Colbert, is a mesquite powered car.)
Of course, in such formal and visible occasions, Bush is highly talented at handling criticism with at least surface good cheer. (In contrast to Laura, for example, Bush did a princely job of it at the Coretta King memorial service.) You don’t have to be as close a student of GWB as The BAG, however, to take a more accurate reading — if you were only allowed the data.
Otherwise, the only way to know Bush took criticism would come from the type of reading that mostly takes place during poker games.
(Speech at Google video here.)
(video stills: yourturnvideo.com/C-SPAN. images: Hyungwon Kang/Reuters. April 29, 2006. Washington. Via YahooNews.)