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After Iraq broadcasts, can Stephen Colbert declare “Mission Accomplished”?

June 12, 2009

(Writing and reporting by Laura Isensee)

colbertiraqTwo presidents, a major general and a shaved head all played a part this week in comedian Stephen Colbert’s declared mission to bring attention to the 6 year-old war in Iraq and the troops still fighting abroad.

On Thursday, Colbert broadcast from Iraq the last of four episodes he starred in this week from the battle-torn country. On Thursday’s edition of “The Colbert Report,” a program which spoofs U.S. politics and culture on cable channel Comedy Central, the show featured a special shout-out to the troops by former President George W. Bush. It was one of several guest video spots that included politicians from right and left, from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to President Barack Obama.

The political satirist went to the Middle East under the humorous title “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando,” but he seemed serious about his mission. This week he guest-edited Newsweek magazine, albeit as his fictional on-screen persona.

“I know what you’re thinking: ‘Isn’t the Iraq War over?’ That’s what I thought, too. I hadn’t seen it in the media for a while, and when I don’t see something, I assume it’s vanished forever, like in that terrifying game peekaboo. We stopped seeing much coverage of the Iraq War back in September when the economy tanked, and I just figured the insurgents were wiped out because they were heavily invested in Lehman Brothers,” Colbert wrote in Newsweek.

“Turns out there are still 135,000 troops in Iraq, which I don’t understand because we’ve already won the war,” he continued in his column.

Colbert, who is splashed on Newsweek’s front page this week, also helped select stories for the issue that focus on Iraq. But he didn’t drop his humor, also publishing fake letters that his character has sent to the magazine over the years.

Cynics could say the trip to Iraq was really about Stephen – and ratings. But others, including Los Angeles Times columnist James Rainey, believe that Colbert is serious and sincere.

Do viewers think Colbert was successful in his mission? Will his comedy show from Iraq spark more media attention to the war in today’s fast-paced news cycle? Is more coverage of the war and the troops needed? We thought Fan Fare readers might want to share what they would write in Colbert’s after-action report.


Anyone that watches The Colbert Report on a regular basis knows he sincerely supports the troops. His commitment to over the years has shown that. His character may be self centered but every once in a while Stephen shows through. It may be difficult for a comedian who’s persona is a right wing pundit to appear anything but but that’s the beauty of the show. It works. I loved every minute of his show over there. The haircut alone is proof its not just for show.

Posted by Darryl Shaw | Report as abusive

Eventually it will. This reminds me of Colbert’s whitehouse correspondents dinner was poorly received in the immediate days after the event. However, eventually that incident proved to be the turning point when the media began to question the administration on the motives of the war in Iraq. I think this event will be quoted oft when critics have to refer to the lack of interest in the American psyche in Iraq.

Posted by Philip | Report as abusive

Colbert did get his “Mission Accomplished”… just the fact that even international news agency like Reuters mentioned his special broadcast and through it brought the focus on those [the troops] who are still in Iraq is an example of his efforts bearing fruit…

Media attention will help to bring the plight of these brave hearts when they come back from their tour of duty and I hope it will get the GI Bill as proposed by President Obama to be approved by the Senate and the Congress ASAP.

Colbert and Jon Stewart both rock and deserve respect for their fairness and sincerity

Posted by Plainspeak | Report as abusive

As a subscriber to Newsweek, a “Colebear” fan, and a news reader in general…I would say SC Iraqi information hit the public in many forms. To me, he has completed his mission of bringing the Iraqi war back to my concern…as for the rest of the public out there…the media moguls are in charge. And they are mostly conservative publications that are not giving us the beans on what is blowing up still over there. The parachute flight of one of the worst presidents in history (his son being the worst of the worst) made bigger headlines than S.C. did–what does that tell you about the BIG NEWS the media reports. I had to look for this article!! and thank you Rueters…you are a fav!! ~Guinness loves SC–keep reporting!You ARE real, even when you aren’t. (Colbert-ism)


Stephen Colbert supports the troops. This wasn’t just about ratings. If you watch the show on a regular basis like I do, you see what is real and what isn’t. It is a part of his character to appear as self absorbed as he does. He had on regular troops on his show also besides all the big names and was honestly impressed with them.
Being a vet, and a spouse of an active army man, the whole thing was even more hilarious and I know for a fact the troops really appreciate it. Thank you USO for helping getting him out there.

Posted by Christina | Report as abusive

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