What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this news satire pokes fun at conservative political viewpoints, borrowing much of its in-your-face style (and many of its patriotic graphics) from more serious Fox News programs like The O'Reilly Factor. The show's self-important host, Stephen Colbert (played by comedian Stephen Colbert), thumbs his nose at political correctness and generally abhors anything with the slightest scent of liberalism. He's also known for openly criticizing his guests and sharing passionately misguided opinions, most of which lead to absurd conclusions. (For example, while speaking out about the dangers of Mother's Day, he says with deadpan sincerity: "If kids want to do something nice for their mother, that's fine. But for me to join in, it is incest. And it is wrong.")
What's the story?
Launched in 2005 as a comic foil to its parent program, The Daily Show, THE COLBERT REPORT (pronounced "col-BEAR re-PORE") seeks to capitalize on the growing popularity of talking-head political shows that seem to rely more on their hosts' larger-than-life personas than on meaningful news analysis. On the show, Colbert plays, well ... Stephen Colbert, a God-fearing, patriotic American who's not afraid to tangle with the truth. His political leanings are conservative, and he hates the liberal media something awful.
Is it any good?
With its shrewd writing and spot-on deliveries of deadpan one-liners, the show is a wickedly smart weenie-roast of politics, ego, and American patriotism gone awry. But Colbert's passionate opinions could be misinterpreted by young viewers who don't get the joke. Uncomfortable with America's increasing diversity? Colbert has a solution: "America should be like a Lunchable, divided into sanitary compartments of like-minded citizens." Tired of feeling your religion is under attack? Take comfort in Colbert's words: "I say there's nothing wrong with having God as a co-pilot, commander in chief, and secretary of defense."
Bottom line? The Colbert Report is a show that could be great for older teens, forcing them to think about current events and the relationship between media and politics. But those who are more interested in the state of their cell phone minutes than the state of the union might not quite be ready to join in the fun.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the ways in which various news talk shows have influenced the way Americans gather information. Are talking-head TV personalities like Chris Matthews, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Keith Olbermann journalists, or merely talk show hosts?
To what extent is the line between journalist and talk show host blurring in the modern media? (For example, could one person's opinion easily be misconstrued as fact?)
Is the mainstream news media truly "liberal"? And if it is, is Fox News truly "fair and balanced," or does it tip the scale toward "conservative"?
Are self-proclaimed "fake news" shows like this one a good substitute for the real thing?