In American media, the split between news and entertainment has never been clear-cut. It seems obviously arbitrary that Glenn Beck's show appears on FOX News, while Jon Stewart's The Daily Show is relegated to Comedy Central. The absurdly ignorant remarks of politicians in press conferences, or the temper tantrums of senators remixed into YouTube hits, remind us daily that the individuals we elect to public office, and the public personas that they enact, are not necessarily as serious as the issues they are charged with rectifying. But sometimes, the results of this cultural blurring can be surprising, and the media attention garnered can
Stephen Colbert, who testified in Congress on Friday regarding an immigration bill, is well-known for his satirically conservative persona on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. He arrived in Congress, fully in character, to testify about a day he spent (on camera, for his show) working alongside migrant laborers in a bean field.
While he spent much of his testimony on the same kinds of one-liners he's known for on Comedy Central (“I certainly hope that my star power can pump this hearing all the way up to C-Span 1,” he said, before asserting that the “obvious answer is for all of us to stop eating fruits and vegetables — and if you look at the recent obesity statistics you’ll see that many Americans have already started,”) Colbert turned serious by the end of the hearing in response to a question from Democratic Representative Judy Chu on why he had chosen to spend time with this cause.
“I like talking about people who don’t have any power, and it seems like one of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work but don’t have any rights themselves,” he said. “Migrant workers suffer and have no rights.”