Video of the Day: Stephen Colbert Pwns Laura Ingraham [Updated with Frye Quote]


Laura Ingraham in the seconds before being hoist with her own petard

Colbert’s interview of Laura Ingraham is a week old but is so artful that it’s worth taking another look.  Colbert, without calling Ingraham a racist who cannot write, demonstrates that she’s a racist who cannot write by using his persona as a pompous know-nothing to play out the pretense that her book The Obama Diaries is actually written by Obama.  The look on her face as the trap closes says it all.  Ingraham thinks she’s produced satire, but Colbert easily outmaneuvers her to show that she hasn’t.  Satire requires more than just a sarcastic attitude and is considerably more subtle than providing an excuse to say nasty things about people that have no demonstrable relation to them. With Ingraham, Colbert demonstrates, the only recognizable issue is race and is expressed in terms of ugly racist cliches.  Ingraham, evidently mortified to be shown up so, provides no rationale; she merely tries to bluff her way through the remainder of the interview.  That’s why this video is being widely linked.  (Ingraham: “I think we had a moment here.”  Colbert: “No, I think you had a moment there.)

See the relevant portion of the interview here.

[Update] Frye in “The Nature of Satire”:

For satire needs both pleasure in conflict and determination to win; both the heat of battle and the coolness of calculation.  To have too much hatred and too little gaiety will upset the balance of tone.  Man is a precocious monkey, and he wins his battles by the sort of cunning that is never far from a sense of mockery.  All over the world people have delighted in stories of how some strong but stupid monster was irritated by a tiny human hero into a blind, stampeding fury, and how the hero, by biding his time and keeping cool, polished off his Blunderbore or Polyphemus at leisure.  (CW 21, 41)

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