Is Stephen Colbert just kidding?
Friday, Jan 20, 2012 8:45 AM Pacific Standard Time
As the comedian holds a South Carolina rally with Herman Cain, an expert unravels what's real and what's satire
By Emma Mustich
Later today, Stephen Colbert will host a rally with Herman Cain in South Carolina. It’s part of his increasingly complicated involvement in his home state’s GOP primary. Colbert wants voters to back Cain as a way of supporting Colbert’s run for “president of the United States of South Carolina.” Write-in candidates aren’t allowed, hence the partnership with the one-time GOP front-runner, who qualified for the ballot before dropping out of the race amid controversy.
Who’s kidding who? Is the joke on Cain? On South Carolina voters? Or is Colbert not joking at all? His super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorow, Tomorrow — technically now in the capable hands of his colleague Jon Stewart — has run a number of joke ads on TV. (One involves a lengthy attack on Colbert himself: “America is in crisis, and Stephen Colbert is turning our election into a circus. … Why is the ‘t” in his name silent? What else is he silent about? Letting murderers out of jail?”) But Colbert and Stewart also spent a significant segment of Tuesday night’s “Daily Show” explaining the dos and don’ts of super PAC coordination — a satirical cover for discussion of an undeniably serious subject.
Just what is the comedian — or is he a civic activist — up to? Russell Peterson, author of “Strange Bedfellows: How Late-Night Comedy Turns Democracy Into a Joke,” provided some insight into the evolving Colbert phenomenon.
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