The Late Show’s Colbert on the Politics of the Media

The Late Show's Colbert on the Politics of the Media

Stephen Colbert’s cartoon news show can be as scary as the real thing sometimes. And it’s the real thing that is scary. In real news, there’s sometimes a chance that you’ll run into the media’s worst nightmare: an election debate or town hall meeting, when the moderator actually holds a gun and tries to force some answers out of you by threatening to pull the trigger. When that happens, that is the moment when the national press turns to their most despised enemy, the anonymous, nameless, faceless coward with the big, scary head.

Colbert, the star of the Late Show, has often played a role in his own show’s politics by putting a cartoon news character into a situation where a real one would be forced. We saw it with George Stephanopoulos in 2011, when the then-ABC host got stuck with the role (and the pressure) of being the one to go first with a question about the health care law. Last month, Colbert did it for the first time.

For a man who regularly wears a baseball cap to his news show, Colbert is a bit of a nerd, and he loves to talk about the news. So it was a great occasion to ask him about the politics of his new show (and to talk to him about his own), which airs Thursday night along with The Late Show. He also had a few choice words to say about the media itself.

I wanted to talk to you about the politics of your show this week, you know, to try to understand what you’re doing and how it relates to some of the larger issues of the week. But let’s start with a quick question about the media and the fact that this show—this new sort of news comedy show that you’re putting on—is very much in the news right now, and you’re the star of it. You’re in this terrible cycle right now of being the target of all of this, and you’re the one who’s really taking the hits?

Colbert: There isn’t anybody, certainly not a late-night show anywhere, that I can think of who has been consistently targeted by the media, and in this particular case, been singled out as a target of all this, where they have targeted me as the host of the show and as the guy who is in danger of failing to take anything that comes out of

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