Just Google “Colbert mockery of Congress” and you can see a host of flabby, puffed-up commentators and their very serious concerns about a comedian daring to sit in a committee hearing and testify about the plight of migrant farmworkers. When any one of these people actually spends a second of their lives in the fields doing what Colbert volunteered to do for a day, they can talk.
We live in a short attention-span theater world (ironically, a Comedy Central show once hosted by Jon Stewart) where all too often, the voiceless and the less powerful need the backing of a louder megaphone to get their claims a hearing. Colbert displayed during the hearing that he understands this implicitly. In his question-and-answer with Judy Chu (D-CA), he talked more about the conditions of powerless farmworkers in five minutes than any member of the media has done in the last 50 years of TV news, all the way back to Harvest of Shame (h/t @danabacon). He said that “I like talking about people who don’t have any power…. I feel the need to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.” He quoted scripture, in particular Matthew 25:40: “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” He added that we tell migrants to come to America to pick our fruits and vegetables, back-breaking work in perilous and often deadly conditions. “We ask them to come and work, and then we ask them to leave again. These people suffer, and they have no rights,” he concluded.
Yes, he was also very funny. But more to the point, he lent his name to an issue that gets almost no attention. Not one of these blow-dryed idiots that sit around the White House Press room would ever dare the same. Colbert joked that he believes that one day of studying anything makes him an expert on the subject. Of course, it’s one more day than any of the people criticizing him for sullying the hallowed halls of Congress.
So the question becomes, who’s the actual reporter here?
…Updated with video.