If Stephen Colbert takes his cue from Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, then where do they, the handsome defenders of freedom, muster their own inspiration from? According to an interview with the New York Times, Colbert says that for Glenn Beck, it's the 'mad as hell' fictional news anchor, Howard Beale (as well as, of course, Jesus and Gandhi).
Paddy Chayefsky's 1976 film, Network, is Colbert's favorite and with good reason as it seems to have accurately predicted everything about television news today, including what he calls the "I will tell you what to think, and how to feel" approach:
[Beale is] doing it in a quasi-benevolent way, which is, I’m going to remind you that you’re being anesthetized right now. That’s what they get right, in terms of what you see on TV. That is a great bulk of what happens with news now. And not just the nighttime people that I’m sort of a parody of, not just the opinion-making people, but even what is left of straight news. Howard Beale is a precursor of people who are telling you how you feel. That’s what they get right. And things like Sybil the Soothsayer — Sybil the Soothsayer is not that different than [Bill] O’Reilly’s body-language expert.
The Colbert Report airs Monday through Thursday at 11:30/10:30c.
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