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Cross Posted at Deny My Freedom
Special Thanks to xelnein for plugging me into this story.

Ok, so we all know about The Fox News Effect, where Fox News's smug, unabashed bias has swung more idle voters/thinkers to the GOP than we'd ever like to think about (certainly many times the miniscule amount needed to win the last two elections).  Whether it be in our hearts and minds, in the pit of our deepest fears, or because we've seen  Concrete Proof of it, we know it's true.

Furthermore we know all too well the amount of online buzz Stephen Colbert created with his extremely thorough (and hilarious) critique of Bush.  But what does it mean?  What are the larger implications?  Do people just like watching comedy videos?  I'm here to answer some of those questions.

NYCO has done some excellent commentary on this topic and its impact on the non-political junkie blogosphere, such as MySpace blogging and the like. It's incredibly important to take this seriously because we all want to know what this topic looks like from outside our echo chamber. NYCO does a great job at this Here. Here is a quote:
If you do a search on "Colbert" on Technorati, you'll notice that most of the people now talking about Colbert are users of services like Myspace and Livejournal -- teenagers, housewives, and people who don't visit places like Daily Kos on a regular basis. The fact that his speech has penetrated into the nonpolitical blogosphere is pretty significant.

Even more, on they are up to over 51,000 messages and a lot of these people are now relating how they have communicated the story of Colbert's routine to people who don't use the Internet. [snip]

The weird thing, which we have already noted here by criticizing the MSM's ignoring of the Colbert incident, is that for the people in power (and their sycophants, the Right), this was pretty much a non-event. Nothing worth their attention, much less anger. But on the other side, "our" side, the depth of feeling is huge. This is the exact equivalent of what happens when the Right sends out a dog whistle to the Christian conservatives. The Left doesn't hear it. (And truly, I don't even think some of "our" people in the blogosphere are hearing the dog whistle of the Colbert incident.)

Regarding the Colbert speech being a dog whistle, I think something that is lurking underneath the surface is just what this particular dog whistle says to people on a certain level... the whole aspect of "access" to the powerful, the sheer physicality of Colbert's confrontation - in that he was actually in the room with all these people, 10 feet away from the Dear Leader, etc.

(emphasis mine)
Excellent, excellent analysis.

We're going to keep talking about The COLBERT Effect in this diary, along with some stats from google and yahoo.

As of the week ending on May 1, 2006, the word 'Colbert' was the eleventh most popular search term on google's ZeitGeist, and by this Monday, it's going to be a lot higher.

How do I know?  Yahoo's Buzz Index has the scoop:

"Ever since Stephen Colbert opened his mouth at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner and pointedly mocked Bush in front of Bush, online buzz on the fake newsman has reached scalding temperatures.

"There's a boulder-coming-at-Indiana Jones quality to the story now. Searches on the eyebrow-raising comedian are up 5,625% this week and picking up speed. Trajectories for "Colbert speech" and "colbert video" are racing off the chart. And "The Colbert Report," its fan site Colbert Nation, and the newly created also launched upward in Buzz."

(emphasis mine)

Over Five and a half thousand percent.  And that can't be all liberal bloggers.  This is key, because it is exactly how the Fox News effect works.  Their influence goes way beyond rallying the Republican base--its most unfortunate effect is subliminally tipping the scale towards the GOP for those elusive swing voters and other casual participants in democracy.  And all because they like flashy Fox News graphics.

The average person who watches Colbert, looking for a laugh after hearing about this hilarious internet video, is suddenly hearing EVERYTHING we've been saying for the past few years in a concise and entertaining manner.

Need more proof?  Here's the best part:

"Two of the characters wielded by Colbert that night also jumped in Buzz. Veteran reporter and Bush haranguer Helen Thomas, who costarred in the performance-closing video, leapt in searches. And outed CIA agent Valerie Plame spiked 262%. So, will the White House get revenge against the fake pundit and his phony news show? Let's just hope his wife is no undercover spook."

(emphasis mine)

Searches on Valerie Plame are up over two hundred and fifty percent.  How many of those searchers are the common person, hoping to learn more about who that woman and her husband are?  And remember this is Yahoo search.  Google doesn't have as thorough a tracking system, but I'd imagine the results are the same or more impressive.

More and more people in America are waking up to these issues, and Stephen Colbert did more than his part this week.  Let's hope the effect lasts until November and beyond, when we can finally show these people what an America with a little self-respect can do...

Update: Judybrowni has a great comment regarding a recent poll of the joke here.

Note that 32 percent of those polled think that the joke about the president's glass being 32 percent full is not funny. Can't buy comedy like that, people.

And as was said in the comments below, make no mistake: court jesters are going to make their way back into style hella-fast after this little embarassment.

Dubya's six years of closed-door rallies culminated directly into this one little devastating hole in the dike. They won't make the mistake again.

Think of the media coverage this will still be getting a year from now when the MSM has its chance to say "The president chose harmless comic 'Larry The Cable Guy' for this year's correspondent's dinner after he was murdered on stage last year by political satirist Stephen Colbert."

Never let it be said that comedy is not an art.  And if it is, never let it be said that it is not effective--especially when done the right way.

Originally posted to MadCasey on Sun May 07, 2006 at 11:28 AM PDT.


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