Entertainment behind the scenes
After Iraq broadcasts, can Stephen Colbert declare “Mission Accomplished”?
(Writing and reporting by Laura Isensee)
Two 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.