Saturday July 15, 2006

Credit Where It's Due?

Some of you may recall that I took Stephen Colbert to task a few weeks ago for an elementary error he made on his show.  Well, this week on the 7/12 episode of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", Our Steve finally decided to do the right thing and come clean.  (Thanks to commenter Robbie on the aforelinked post for calling my attention to this.)  I feel vindicated...more or less.

In the second segment of the interview, the discussion turns to Colbert's love of Lord of the Rings.  After he speaks some Quenya to Conan (elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo), he turns to the matter in question:

SC:  I have been judged on my love of Lord of the Rings.

CO:  You've had people actually get mad at you?

SC:  Some viewers on my show got mad at me because...remember the 6/6/06, like in June how everyone was saying "End of the world!  Devil day!"

[Colbert gives the gist of his original story, finishing with:]

Demons are angels who followed Satan into Hell because he wouldn't serve God.  Balrogs are Maia [sic] who followed Melkor to Thangorodrim because he wouldn't serve Eru.  Totally different.

CO:  So, wait a minute, you said that this got you into trouble, how did it get you into trouble?

SC:  Because, Conan, it's an obvious mistake.  The Balrogs did not follow Melkor into Thangorodrim, they followed him to Utumno and then later to his fortress of Angbad [sic] that was guarded by the three mountains of Thangorodrim.

CO:  Yes!

SC:  The most humiliating day of my life.

CO:  And somebody called you out on that.

SC:  Somebody called me out on it.

I should be happy about this, right?  Let's ignore Colbert's incomplete command of spoken Quenya, his substitution of the singular Maia for the plural Maiar, and his mispronunciation of Angband—these are very minor issues that only a pedant would point out.  What's important is that Our Steve isn't just another MSM hack who hides his mistakes; he comes right out and corrects them on national TV.

It's just that, well...did you notice in the exchange above where Colbert graciously gave credit to the only site on the Internet that caught his error, then mentioned the name of that site and carefully spelled out the URL so millions of "Late Night" viewers could visit it?  No?  That's because he did no such thing!

What—and I want to make this perfectly clear—the fuck?  Isn't there enough glory up in the rarefied heights of basic cable to spread around, Mr. 100-Most-Influential-People?  You couldn't point a few eyeballs over in my direction?  I guess that's how the game is played in the Big Media—let somebody else do the heavy lifting, then parachute in and take all the credit.


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Maybe Colbert learned about the Maiar from someone with a nonrhotic accent.

Posted by: KCinDC at Jul 15, 2006 7:54:08 AM

Well I'd say one Balrog was a ['maI@] who followed ['melkO:], whereas a whole bunch of Balrogs are ['maia:]. There's still a pronunciation difference. *smaller nitpick and so ad infinitum*

Posted by: nw at Jul 17, 2006 9:15:40 AM

And as if on cue, a nitpick on my own nitpick... [aI] and [ai] are supposed to be the same, but I don't care how you write it. *grumble*

Posted by: nw at Jul 17, 2006 9:18:58 AM

This is a bitter betrayal of the principles of truthiness that Colbert has so often espoused.

Posted by: Chris Ball at Jul 19, 2006 7:12:28 AM