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Mock-Journalist Displays Mock-Naïveté

In the spring of 1976, when it was announced that Gerald Ford's press secretary would be hosting an NBC comedy show whose centerpiece segment was an actor playing a news journalist, one of its writers, the former wife of the show's creater/producer responded, “The President’s watching. Let’s make him cringe and squirm.”

Today, an actor who plays a news journalist is shocked -- shocked! -- that there may be disparagement going on in politics. He's scared, and shaken -- but his words are rather less than stirring:

Supporting his sister following her defeat for one of South Carolina’s congressional seats, Colbert, host of “The Colbert Report,” took jabs at CNN, almost denounced his love for the state of South Carolina, and wondered aloud, comically, whether the lies leveled against his sister were a common part of political campaigns.

“This scares me to my core. I’m shaken. This was the first political campaign where I knew and cared about the candidate before they got into politics. I saw first-hand how her opponents smeared her with outrageous accusations I knew to be untrue,” he said on his show Wednesday night. “And that’s made me wonder if other campaigns have done this as well.”

Gee, wait'll Colbert discovers what he and his network did to Sarah Palin. Of course, we know it's all a game to the faux anchor:

“The voters of South Carolina have spoken,” Colbert said. “Mark Sanford beat my sister and I believe that means Mark Sanford is now my sister. On behalf of my entire family, I want to say that we are deeply sorry about him.”

Whatever your thoughts about Sanford and his peccadilloes, reading between the lines of that last quote, at least we've gotten the chance to see someone in old media -- those who profess to "afflict the comfortable" (and receive six and seven figure salaries while doing so) -- cringe and squirm for a change. Enjoy it; it doesn't happen often.