- - Thursday, May 4, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The media’s double standard for how it deals with conservatives and liberals is not limited to news coverage - that double standard extends to how it deals with late-night comics, too, it seems.

Imagine, for a moment, that a prominent conservative comedian (go ahead and imagine such a thing exists for this exercise) gave a vulgarity-laced monologue against President Barack Obama - on network television, no less! And imagine that the comic routine included numerous obscenities and lewd remarks that crossed every line of decency. Now, with that initial set-up, it is not difficult to imagine the backlash. The response, in this hypothetical scenario, would be swift and severe. The comic would never get the chance to bid his audience farewell because he would be yanked off the airways immediately and relegated to the ash heap of comic history.

But when a liberal comedian - The Late Show host, Stephen Colbert, in this case - performs a crass and disgusting tirade against President Donald Trump, the response from CBS, the show’s network carrier, has been a stifled yawn.

In response to CBS’s non-response, conservatives this week on social media have launched a campaign to petition CBS to fire Colbert, with the hashtag #FireColbert.

CBS, for its part, should investigate how this monologue ended up on the air. The Late Show is a pre-recorded production. And, based on the accounts from Colbert and CBS this week, the monologues are scripted, rather than delivered off the cuff. So, in other words, lots of people knew that Colbert had given a vulgar and obscene speech against the president, and they went ahead and taped it, and then aired it anyway. Colbert was not the only one lacking in good judgment, and CBS should delve into the issue to find out where, exactly the breakdown in oversight occurred.

How did it come to be that an obscene speech with over-the-top disgusting imagery could air on network television? David French makes an excellent argument over at National Review Online<https://www.nationalreview.com/article/447317/stephen-colbert-donald-trump-jokes-crude-discourse-meets-audience-demand> that there is a demand within the market for crude and crass comedy. Colbert, then, is just giving the audience what it wants. He writes: “[Colbert’s] not leading them; he’s riding [the audience’s] wave of progressive scorn, anger, and hate.”

French makes what is essentially a market-driven argument that Colbert and others in his field have identified - and are satisfying - certain viewers’ appetite for crude and crass comic material. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. People in the audience were laughing, and, no doubt, there were plenty of people across the country who found the obscenity-laden monologue to be funny. But there were also many viewers who changed the channel, and still others who heard about the monologue the next morning and were disgusted.

As Americans, we have broad freedom of choice because of our free-market system and competition. If we do not like what Colbert is saying on CBS, we can switch to a different channel. But, if we want to make an even more profound impact, we can also boycott the products and services advertised on The Late Show.

I have been hearing from Tea Party Patriots’ supporters across the country this week that they think it is time for a disciplined conservative boycott because Colbert’s monologue was so blatantly outside of any standard of decency.

Boycotts are powerful. Through collective “non-activity” (the non-purchase of products advertised on the show’s commercials, or the non-consumption of The Late Show), boycotts provide a vehicle for capturing the attention of companies, advertisers, shareholders, and other stakeholders. Boycotts send loud and clear messages to those most heavily invested.

Boycotts are also effective. Because they are noticed and capture the attention of key stakeholders, boycotts also have the potential to change outcomes and reverse policies.

And, even more significantly, boycotts have played an important role in American history. The colonialists, although they did not use the word “boycott,” orchestrated one of human history’s most consequential boycotts. Boycotts are conservative principles in action. We believe in the power of the free market and that market-based solutions are best, we believe in economic expression, and we believe actions - sometimes even non-actions - speak louder than words.

Tea Party Patriots excels in the area of principle-driven protests. Our protests over the years have been visible on Capitol Hill, across the country, and on social media. Boycotts, by contrast, are felt through economic forces, rather than seen on the National Mall. But they have the same effect as in-person protests. Boycotts are protests by other means that occur in the free market.

CBS should do the right thing here and find a new host for the show. And a little economic encouragement in the form of a boycott may be just the encouragement the network needs to do the right thing.

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