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COMMENTARY

Stephen Colbert's takedown of Fox News' Libya coverage

October 25, 2012|By Meredith Blake

Jon Stewart is known for taking down Fox News with devastatingly well-edited montages; on Wednesday night, Stephen Colbert achieved the same goal simply by wandering around the "Colbert Report" studio.  

Inspired by an overwrought Bret Baier "Special Report" on the Benghazi attack, in which the Fox News host strolled around a dimly lit, columned space asking accusatory questions such as "Is this a huge scandal that exposes a failed Obama foreign policy?” Colbert fired back with some questions of his own.

Emerging Baier-like from the shadows behind his desk, Colbert began with a question that neatly summed up the satirical point of the entire segment: "If you put a statement in the form of a question, is that journalism?"

From there, the speculation -- and Colbert's movements -- grew ever more ridiculous. Shimmying sideways down through the audience with a top hat and cane, he wondered why the Obama administration blamed the incident on “The Innocence of Muslims” – and why he suddenly experienced technical difficulties when he tried to play the video himself.  Climbing along a railing as his rear end dangled over audience members’ heads, Colbert asked, "Don’t you miss the Bush administration, when we knew exactly how to be afraid, thanks to a color-coded scale based on threats they often wouldn’t explain?"

He wandered to a bathroom backstage, and emerged with still more questions: "Did I have time to wash my hands just now? It didn't seem like it, did it?"

Prompted by another clip in which Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. suggested (admittedly without evidence) that the administration had somehow given up the four Americans who were killed in Benghazi, Colbert let loose.

"While we're throwing around accusations with absolutely no evidence, what was President Obama's role in 9/11? What was his role in Lance Armstrong's doping scandal?" Colbert asked. "Even more troubling, why does Peter Johnson Jr. have a name that's three euphemisms for penis." (To be fair, at least one of these questions seems worth asking.)

Eventually, Colbert wound up on a treadmill, where he claimed that the endless recrimination on Fox News is merely an elaborate way of deflecting attention from Obama’s most notable foreign policy achievement. As he put it, "Ultimately, the question is 'How many questions do we have to ask before voters forget President Obama killed Osama Bin Laden?'"

The segment served as a vivid (and very funny) reminder of what Colbert recently told David Gregory on "Meet the Press." Unlike Stewart, who likes to pick apart the news "like a cadaver," Colbert said he prefers to embody the very thing he's mocking.

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