Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Stephen Colbert becomes a Net sensation

Ever since Stephen Colbert delivered his amazing smackdown of Bush and the right wing just over a week ago at the White House Correspondents' Dinnner, he's been the talk of not just the progressive blogosphere - but the nation as well.

Reaction to Colbert and the dinner has become a massive senation. A huge number of people are searching Yahoo and Google to find the video, transcript, or read coverage of the event. Ratings for The Colbert Report soared 37% last week in the aftermath of the event. (Has a C-SPAN broadcast ever been so entertaining?)

This excerpt from Wikipedia neatly captures what a phenomenon this became so quickly:
According to CNET's site, Colbert became "one of the Internet's hottest acts" after video of his performance spread across the Internet. Within three days of the event, clips of the speech had climbed to the #1, #2, and #3 spots atop YouTube's "Most Viewed" video list. Before YouTube took down the video, the various clips of Colbert's speech had been viewed 2.7 million times in less than 48 hours.

The popular blog Crooks and Liars was the first place where the video became available, and although their downloadable file (which is no longer available) only covered part of Colbert's speech, they drew over half a million hits in one day, their busiest day on record.

Google Current reported that, after Colbert's comic routine, one of the top gaining searches at Google was for "C-SPAN," the station that first broadcast video of Colbert's "tribute" to Bush. In the days following the roast, "C-SPAN" was searched for more than twice as much as "Jennifer Aniston". Google also saw a surge in searches for items such as "Colbert", "Stephen Colbert", "Colbert Bush", and "Colbert dinner".

Yahoo!'s the buzz log reported that searches on Colbert were up 5,625% during the week and climbing even higher.

The trade journal Editor and Publisher was the first news outlet to report in detail on Colbert's performance. After publishing the article, they reported that their web site drew "possibly its highest one-day traffic total ever." Salon, which posted several articles on Colbert's performance, reported that they hit traffic heights surpassed only by their election and Abu Ghraib coverage.

For a week afterward, the top search term at Technorati was either "Colbert" or "Stephen Colbert". All week, the Internet continued to buzz about the speech; 70,000 articles were posted about Colbert's roast of Bush on the following Thursday, the most of any topic.

A website called Thank You Stephen Colbert, created by Salon writer Michael Scherer,logged over 50,000 "Thank You's" within the first five days after the dinner.

Chicago Sun-Times TV Critic Doug Elfman credited the Internet with promoting an event that would have otherwise been overlooked, stating that "Internet stables for liberals, like the behemoth, began rumbling as soon as the correspondents' dinner was reported in the mainstream press, with scant word of Colbert's combustive address."
Everybody's talking about it. When our own U.S. Representative, Jay Inslee, stopped by the King County Convention, the first thing he told the audience (jokingly) was that he was forming a presidential committee for Stephen Colbert.

The bottom line: Stephen's performance may not have been liked by the Washington press corps, but the savvy host of Comedy Central's Colbert Report knew exactly who he was playing to: the millions of unhappy Americans at home who are sick of the Bush administration getting a free pass for so long.

That's the power of the democratic Internet.

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