September 18, 2013 — Nicholson Baker

The Colbert Report episode guide EPISODE NUMBER: 9151 (September 18, 2013)
GUESTS: Nicholson Baker | Andrew Sullivan
SEGMENTS: Syria Conflict & End Times Prophecy | United Nations on Syria Conflict – Andrew Sullivan | Navy Yard Shooting & Gun Violence Causes | Sign Off – “Damascus Countdown”
SUIT REPORT: Black suit | White shirt | Light blue/navy/burgundy striped tie
VIDEOS: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tonight we had a pretty spirited debate with friend of the show Andrew Sullivan over the U.S.’ Syria involvement. It’s funny to watch Stephen’s character struggle with justification for the war, even though when it comes to the Middle East we’re kinda “been there, bombed that,” as he says. Like how Stephen just wouldn’t give Andrew the last word, even if it meant the interview ending in the roughest edit I’ve ever seen. (Which Stephen insisted he would do.)

Stephen also finally addressed the Navy Yard Shootings, waiting, I am sure, to find a funny media angle to comment on, without making light of (yet another) episode of shooting violence. It also allowed for an opportunity to get a dig in at Elisabeth Hasselbeck, or the “new Gretchen,” over at the friendly friends over at Fox & Friends, as well.

(Just want to sidebar for a minute, sorry)

I have a very good friend who is a psychologist. I was checking out her new office, which she shares with a psychiatrist. We just happened to be in an area where I saw the psychiatrist’s billing rates for her consultation (and psychiatrists, of course, can prescribe medication.) It’s $400/hr to see the psychiatrist, out of pocket cost, if your insurance doesn’t cover it. I looked at that ugly number and I thought, if someone is mentally ill or needs help and can’t cough up that kind of change, how do they cope? How do they get medication for various disorders that require it? It sort of became apparent that in this country, we have nothing to offer people who need help with mental problems. Sadly, I feel that these tragedies can be prevented if we took the issue of mental health more seriously in our culture.

(thanks for listening)

The interview with Nicholson Baker kind of took a bizarre turn, but it seems with the super literary guests, Stephen is more prone to take the foot off the pedal in the interview, and just let things happen. It’s kind of nice in that regard, but you do sit there wondering where the interview is going to go (or end up.)

What did you think of the show tonight? Let us know in the comments.

Syria Conflict & End Times Prophecy

Stephen and End of the World

  • I pride myself on my decisiveness. If I ever lost my ability to instantly know my next course of action, I don’t know what I’d do.
  • And the truth is, nobody knows what to do in Syria. We’ve heard from our allies, we’ve heard from our enemies, we’ve heard from our pundits, and our politicians. But there is one important voice that has remained conspicuously silent: hallucinating sheepherders from ancient Judea.
  • And the signs of the Apocalypse are everywhere. After all, I’ve just quoted from a Canadian newspaper.
  • …Fox News Anchor, and eleventh plague, Neil Cavuto.
Stephen Colberts meat arc

“Everything the Bible says is coming to pass! Thankfully, I have 2 of everything in my meat arc.”

  • Folks, Neil Cavuto wasn’t done there. His job as a TV journalist is to keep digging until the next commercial.
  • True. Everything that hasn’t happened yet could happen. I mean the seas turning read with blood. Lions laying down with lambs. The Friends movie, all possible.
Imaginary newsman

“Yes, he imagines a scenario. Which qualifies him to be interviewed by an imaginary newsman.”

  • If I am interpreting the Book of Rosenberg correctly, the world ends..with a wedding!
  • I think this proves Obama is a Muslim. He is refusing to bomb someone just to keep Jesus from coming back. It’s kind of petty.
  • So I am praying, praying this diplomatic solution falls through, because, frankly, I do not want to see the day Obama earns the Nobel Peace prize he already won.
  • Oh, the U.N. is handling it. That makes it rather U.N.-likely to succeed.

United Nations on Syria Conflict – Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan on The Colbert Report

Sullivan makes a rare comment to Stephen’s character: “You’re not wrong” on his assessment of the Syrian conflict.

Stephen: When it comes to Syria, are you in favor of us doing something, or doing nothing?
Andrew: I am in favor of us doing something that does not mean we get involved in someone else’s civil war.

Stephen: You trust Russia and China more than you trust America? Do you trust Putin, and whomever China – Putin is, do you trust those guys over Barack Obama, who is our commander in chief?
Andrew: Yes, because the world has seen the U.S. go into these places alone –
Stephen: -and kick some ass and take some names –
Andrew: – and make an almighty mess, where hundreds of thousands of people die, creating a nightmare, creating the very thing you’re trying to avoid.
Stephen: You have to send a message.
Andrew: We’ve sent a message, it was received in Damascus, they gave up. I thought you would like that. Assad actually surrendered.

Stephen: You want to be a United States citizen, true? [..] You have to understand that there is such a thing as “American exceptionalism,” alright? The rules don’t apply to us. We get to do what we want, and everyone should say, “That’s good, because America did it.”
Andrew:Why not use the rules to get what we want done without ourselves having to actually do it?

Andrew: Why not use the rules to get what we want done without ourselves having to actually do it?

Navy Yard Shooting & Gun Violence Causes

  • Guns have nothing to do with gun violence. We all know what the real problem is.
  • He had access to a military ID. If he didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be talking a tragedy at a navy yard. We’d be talking about a tragedy in a less secure area, like a park or a Dennys.
  • Yes, how many times do conservatives have to say it: we need more background checks. Or at least a waiting period for an I.D., like they have at the DMV. I believe it’s 3 days.
  • Yes, new Gretchen. A national game registry. The government needs to monitor who is playing video games and how much. I am really concerned with this guy named “aaa.” He’s the high scorer everywhere you look.
  • Who is the jackass who blamed video games?
Eric Bolling

“He’s right, TV is violent. I mean, Eric Bolling just kicked himself in the balls.”

Andrew:Interview – Nicholson Baker

Nicholson: I think anyone who lives a life and thinks about things every day, develops little theories, and thoughts, and ad hoc ideas abut what’s happening, and those things are eventually worth putting in a book. […] When you are going along and actually thinking about what happens to human beings, people in your life … we’re lucky people, bad things don’t happen to us. But what novelists and screenwriters think we need an explosion of some kind. And it’s stupid, you know? What we actually do is we read the news. And when we read the news, we have all sorts of explosions coming at us all the time. […] We have all these horrible things that come in indirectly through news channels.
Stephen: You know, I’m in the news business myself. I’m one of the people who’s bringing you all those terrible stories.
Nicholson: And I’m enormously grateful. It makes us feel bad.
Stephen: The world’s a scary place.
Nicholson: It is.

  • Corrie-luv

    Just watched tonight’s episode, and boy how I feel conflicted about the media, whether it’s CNN and their gradual speculation of the events that unfolded in the Washington Navy Yard, or Fox and their pundits trying to take blame for those who brought up the idea of video games instigating the shooters. BTW, nice comeback for Stephen showing those clips of The Five that countered the pundit’s (whose name I forget) statement back to himself.
    Just the fact that the number of shootings that have occurred this year is high, I wonder if abiding to the Constitution is still a political excuse to avoid making restrictions for gun ownership. I’m just sick and tired of the violence that emerges no thanks to the government. And hearing about the shooter’s’ incentives that resulted from violent video games makes me question what kind of substance do we Americans expose ourselves into? Like Syria and any Middle Eastern conflict, is it okay that we allow ourselves into dangerous environments and take our own common sense for granted in order to restore the dignity or depression that has been overshadowed by others, or can there be a peaceful compromise without any casualties to bury?

    P.S. I’m so sorry for the long rant… I was just wondering if our government can wake up, realize the kinds of tragedy they seem to disregard, and take serious action before the country ends up fighting against itself.

    On another note, I felt comfort when I saw Andrew Sullivan. Next to Olly-Scone, he is still fresh and very fun to watch bantering with Stephen. The first time I saw him was during the live coverage of the 2012 election, and I knew he was very enlightened to relieve Stephen following the victory of Pres. Obama. My only concern is wondering what he said before the commercial break; apparently he was cut before he could say something.

  • colbaby

    What a weird interview! I actually cringed when Stephen asked Baker if the rug matches the drapes, thinking this was just a sweet, innocent older gentleman. Turns out he wasn’t so innocent after all! Loved the gun violence piece. And you’re absolutely right, CN Helper, that it’s not just gun control, but the mental health care system that needs a dramatic overhaul. I’m in a country with free health care, so receiving therapy here doesn’t have to bankrupt you. But living in a hugely populated city means getting put onto a waiting list for several months before getting that free therapy. Otherwise, you go private and pay an arm and a leg. Something’s got to be done.

    Also, bravo to TDS for their gun control segment. Speaking of TDS, as a native Tennessean, I feel it my duty to point out we do NOT consume our alcoholic beverages in such a fashion. Though I can understand why those peach packers in GA would get the mouth confused with the ass, considering they spend so much time talking out theirs. (BAM. Georgia slam.You can have our water when you pry it from our cold, dead, no doubt bbq sauce-stained hands, GA.)

    • Mr. Arkadin

      Hi colbaby! I’m so glad you commented on TDS’ GA. vs TN. segment. Since you are the official Tennessean (via the UK of course) of the Hub. I instantly thought, “What does colbaby think of this?” (Yeah. I know. I don’t get out much.)
      Did you think TDS went out of it’s way to talk to the worse representatives of your state? Or were you like, “That glassy-eyed, Deliverancey looking dude is why I live in England!”
      I tend to think it’s the former. But I’m interested in your opinion.

  • colbaby

    Actually it was more like, “What the hell is Uncle Jerry doing on the TV?”

    I jest. But yeah, they definitely went with the most, shall we say ‘entertaining’ denizens of both states. Though to be fair, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting guys like that in those parts, so I’m sure they didn’t have to go out of there way to find them. Especially in that particular region.

    • Mr. Arkadin

      Poor dead cats! What did they ever do to get swung into Uncle Jerry?

      • colbaby

        THEY know what they did. That’s all that matters.