Why Kill Someone Who Won’t Know They’re Dead?

Back in 2005, a producer for CNN’s Crossfire called me about having my boss on the show. For those who don’t remember Crossfire it was a cantankerous show with famed Democratic strategists James Carville (the man who made me love politics) and Paul Begala representing the left and the late conservative writer Robert Novak and pundit Tucker Carlson representing the right. INSERT SHOUTING!!

Crossfire, in my opinion, solidified the current trend of setting up every conversation as right vs. left. There were times during Crossfire when conclusions were drawn but mostly there was a lot of talking “at” each other. The interviews were priceless.

The most well-known Crossfire interview was with Daily Show host Jon Stewart. The results were, shall we say, disastrous.

I remember watching the Stewart episode (back in 2004) over and over again thinking how do you prepare someone for a talk-at-you show like Crossfire and how do you prepare them for an unpredictable-and-potentially-embarrassing turn on Jon Stewart’s show?

By the time it was my job to work with someone on debate prep, I had my answer: There are some people who simply won’t come off well in those environments, but the best preparation is to arm the person you’re coaching with messages rather than fleshed out talking points.  My boss appeared. He did fine but was slightly dug into the ground by Carlson on a point in which Carlson was [shocker] completely correct.

There’s a new age of television now. Looking at Glenn Beck almost makes Crossfire seem quaint in retrospect. And in 2010 I’d be way more worried about preparing someone for Stephen Colbert than Jon Stewart. My best advice would be not to try to outdo Colbert at his own game, but beyond that either the rope is there for Colbert to hang you as a guest or it isn’t. It’s the risk you take.

Over the 4 years that Colbert has aired on Comedy Central , the host has devoured the positions of many guests. And those people that Colbert are mocking (the extreme right, specifically Bill O’Reilly, and, to a degree, flamboyant pundits of all kinds) seem to be just as willing to visit his show as those who would probably be considered fans. But they also seem the most unaware that they have been, for lack of a better word, SERVED.

I not surprised that some people who appear on Colbert leave the show and think they came out smelling like roses. Ta-Nehisi Coates described D’nesh Dsouza’s appearance on Colbert Report saying “I don’t think he realized he was bleeding until a week later.” Unbeknownst to the conservative thinker, he’d been eviscerated. Recently, Laura Ingraham (in the clip below) appeared on Colbert’s show. I’m still wondering if she understands (or even cares!!) how much the depth of her hypocrisy was revealed in just under 6 minutes in front of Colbert.  Her base is so firmly in her corner, it kind of doesn’t matter when she’s exposed as a fraud.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Laura Ingraham
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

I know that people who watch Colbert like to think that when he gets the best of someone who is outrageously self-righteous and full of shit, an angel gets her wings and some small dent in the stupidity of America is made. But I’m not sure.

This is a question that applies to almost all liberal media. The Professional Left (c) Robert Gibbs, works overtime to debunk every lie the other side spews.  Sure it feels really really good in the moment–especially when it’s expertly executed the way Colbert does; but what’s the point in killing someone if they don’t realize they’re dead?



  1. I watched Crossfire during the Kinsley and Buchanan Years. It was refreshing at the time because it was an island of naked punditry in a sea of “unbiased news”

    Now basically you get it the other way around.

    It’s like spreading a thin layer of cake batter over a cake pan full of frosting…I LOVE frosting, but damn.

    Love this blog, btw.

    • Thanks so much Ink! I agree…I feel like there is too much emphasis on politics as a game and not enough on whether or not policies are good for the country. Even a political junkie like myself had to stop watching cable news. It’s not even fun anymore. And when pundits are blatantly helping push a party agenda it really gets stupid.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Innuendo, The Innuendo, Pepper Potts, J Danielle , J Danielle and others. J Danielle said: Sure Stephen Colbert eviscerates people, but liberals, I ask you: Why Kill Someone Who Won't Know They're Dead? […]

  3. Interesting stuff. I remember that Crossfire episode like it was yesterday. I’m fascinated by the idea of media coaching, particularly in cable news. Lots of folks get eaten up alive. It’s cringe-worthy television for the viewer, the interviewee, and that person’s communications director. Laura Ingraham on Colbert was horribly fantastic. Loved it.

    By the way, who was your boss at the time?

    • It’s funny how that episode sticks in your mind YEARS after the show is cancelled. It was epic in the true sense of the word.

      In terms of the media coaching, I think a lot of people assume that for those who have an agenda they’re pushing e.g. a lobbyist, a member of Congress etc. they can just go on and spew BS and not put any work in. But the opposite is true. If you want to do well on cable news the best thing you can do is have a command of the issues. There’s no substitute for that. Media Coaching can help you be more artful, relaxed, savvy, build a presence. But it doesn’t help people unstupify themselves and it doesn’t give them messages (which is the job of a speechwriter or strategist). It takes a village! lol

      Can’t say who my boss was, but he was a lobbyist.

  4. […] as I said before, there’s no reason to kill someone who won’t even know they’re dead. var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="It’s Time For the Left to Take […]



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