Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Worst PR Stunt Ever

I think Stephen Colbert is funny and I generally like his shtick. But what is a Congressional subcommittee on immigration doing wasting time by having a comedian testify — in character, no less — on a subject about which he knows very little.

As someone whose work includes PR, I understand the theory. No one would have covered this hearing if Colbert hadn't been there. Now clips of the hearing are all over the place. But the emphasis in the coverage has been on how boneheaded the move was. Does anyone actually recall what else was covered during the hours-long hearing?

I just heard the staid John Harwood on the Saturday Today Show call it "the dumbest political stunt I've ever seen." Hard to disagree with that. The NY Daily News also got it right in an editorial that ripped California Rep. Zoe Lofgren for inviting Colbert.

Take my word for it. The stunt will backfire. People will see it as yet another example of how clueless (and wasteful) Washington is. And Lofgren will deserve every drip of disdain that hits her.


  1. This just beggars the mind and has last days of Rome written all over it. We have 11+ million illegal immigrants in this country and we bring in a comedian to joke about it? Admittedly I think that celebrities should "stick to their knitting" and keep their opinions to themselves but at least Bono attempts to know something about which he pontificates - Colbert (whom I agree is hilarious) just came in and did stand up at taxpayer expense.

  2. wow. that was the most inappropriate 5 minutes of video i've seen this year. Why was taxpayer money spent to have the testimony of a TV character entered, when it could have done just as well on his regular show at no cost to us? this Colbert is a fictional character, not a real person.his testimony is irrelevant. Might as well have Archie Bunker come on as an expert witness as well.

  3. Couldn't agree more, Terry. Colbert can be very funny - on his own turf. But when he appears in settings like this he looks nervous and his stuff just doesn't work.

    What a waste of time, but Colbert got millions of bucks worth of free media. At our expense.

  4. I'm all for celebrities and characters testifying before Congress (Michael J. Fox and Elmo immediately come to mind). It brings awareness to the public about serious issues in our society.

    And as much as I love Stephen Colbert, it hurt watching it. I agreed with the Senator who asked him to leave so they could get on with the serious business of running a country. It was a mockery of the system and wholly inappropriate, even for Mr. Colbert.

  5. "This just beggars the mind and has last days of Rome written all over it." That statement boggles my mind that anyone would think it makes sense. As for Rome, during the last days they canceled their cable.

  6. Matt can speak for himself, but the way I read his comment was it was a comparison of the excesses of Rome with those of Congress and the extent to which both engaged in diversions from their nation's problems even as those empires burned (e.g. the fiddling Nero).