Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are uncoordinated

It begins to border on amusing to watch the presidential candidates claim to be upset about the vicious and/or inaccurate nastygrams that their own friends, supporters and former top aides are airing on their behalf via Super PACS with which the candidates themselves are barred from law from coordinating and therefore cannot be held accountable.

On last night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert crossed the border (that's the border into amusing alluded to just above) with a skit about the legal absurdity of the non-coordination doctrine. They even got a high-priced campaign finance law attorney into the act to coach them on how to do it/not do it.

In case you need a little help with the set-up, Colbert has created an actual Super PAC ("Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow") and transferred control of it to Stewart, with whom he can no longer legally coordinate. The PAC has actually bought some airtime in South Carolina and aired a pretty silly ad.

Last night, Stewart wished he could get Colbert's guidance on what to do next, but doesn't want to break the law. Here's the video:

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox

Related Tags:

Comments (9)

It's more and more becoming the case that news coverage is coming super Pac funded media campaigns, and the role of the news media itself is reduced to transcription of the candidates words. Much of the real journalism these days is done by the fact checkers.

I think there are two big stories going on now. Bain Capital and what it does, and the influence of Super Pacs. And in both cases the news media isn't so much covering these issues is reacting to the way the agenda has been set by others, in particular the Gingrich Pac and the Stewart and Colbert shows.

I have been fascinated by Romney's handling of the tax issue. It's one of those issues you see coming about a decade away, so there is plenty of time to form a plan for dealing with it. Yet there seems no such plan in place. To handle this issue this weakly assures that stronger, more aggressive figures, like Newt Gingrich will drive the issue forward. It makes me wonder about the nature of Mitt's intelligence. He is incredibly smart, incredibly analytical, but he seems curiously without insight. He is driven but not thoughtful. I wonder if Mitt suffers from that most devastating flaw incredibly intelligent people are vulnerable to, a lack of appreciation of the intelligence of people less gifted than themselves, a failure to understand that someone far less intelligent, might very well come with an idea or an insight they haven't thought of.

Who buys the ads that fund the PACs?
Take a look in the STrib.

That should have been:

Who buys the ads that fund the media?

For more on Colbert and his super-PAC see this NYTimes magazine article from a week or so ago:

The article talks about how the super-PAC offered to pay $400,000 for the costs of the Republican primary in South Carolina if the party would agree to give Colbert naming rights. The ballots had to say Stephen Colbert Super PAC South Carolina Primary." The party was on the verge of agreeing when a judge said it could not happen.

The full story is amazing.

"so there is plenty of time to form a plan for dealing with it. Yet there seems no such plan in place."

Why does he need a plan? He said yesterday that he's paid 15% on his federal taxes because he's been living on investment income for the past few years (15% is the capital gains tax).

Yeah, so what? The press acted as if that was a scandal because "reguar folks" probable pay more.

Well stand by if you agree with the press because if it was up to me the capital gains tax would be ZERO. He should have made the point when they asked him that lowering the capital gains tax will attract investors which will be good for the struggling economy.

Newt would have given them an Econ 101 lecture on why attracting investments is a good thing.

Stewart and Colbert have done a terrific job of making an arcane subject understandable to the average voter like me. So I get it, the rules are not exactly airtight on preventing "coordination" between a candidate and a SuperPac. But it bears repeating that just because candidate can create a SuperPac which he/she controls but does not "control" doesn't it must be so. In fact, I can envision a SuperPac which is set up to appear to be coordinated by a candidate but which is designed to undermine the candidate, sort of like the push polling dirty tricks that often occur in campaigns. We used to have a better terms for SuperPacs. They were called "slush funds" and people in Stewart's role were called "bagmen."

Why does he need a plan?

Because he knows that taxes and tax policy are going to be issues in the coming campaign. He is speaking imprecisely of things that are very precise. And by providing a little bit of information, he is opening up an issue on which he hasn't reached a decision.

"Well stand by if you agree with the press because if it was up to me the capital gains tax would be ZERO"

Your position seems to be that rich people, the people who have benefited most from this country, all of us rich and poor alike worked to build, shouldn't pay taxes at all. I just don't think that's a very good idea.