'Red Eye': The Official Litmus Test for Squares

'Red Eye': The Official Litmus Test for Squares

So by now, you know Stephen Colbert ran an obviously sarcastic clip from Fox News’s Red Eye as an example of right-wing rage at President Obama–“the equivalent of running something from The Onion as a real news story,” host Andy Levy charged Thursday night.

What you might not know is this is the second time in just the last week that the Red Eye gang has completely punked the media spheres that could never imagine something cool or relevant happening on Fox. Last Thursday, Greg, Bill, and Andy booked indie music icon Ariel Pink as a guest on the show–a guy whose politics are pretty typically post-9/11 far left

The infamous hipster music publication Pitchfork wrote up the appearance Saturday and placed it as the site’s featured story. Tagged “WTF,” authors Jenn Pelly and Evan Minsker thrice caveated their use of a positive adjective: “The idea of pop eccentric Ariel Pink appearing on a Fox News program is actually kind of incredible, in its own way.”

And, true to form, Stereogum rewrote the Pitchfork story six hours later, taking a far more critical tack, a Colbert-esque reveal of knee-jerk hate. “Now Murdoch’s right-wing media empire has again demonstrated their interest in engaging with a younger and more ‘alternative’ demographic,” wrote Liz Pelly, “or at least that seems it might have been a motivation in bringing on Ariel Pink as a recent guest on the satirical program Red Eye With Greg Gutfield.”

Of course, it couldn’t just be that Greg’s a fan, which one could never find out within the span of a 10-second Google search. And that’s not all. “Watch him talk with a bunch of squares,” Pelly said of the panel–which I’m sure comedian Sherrod Small might contest–and conjured up some outrage about a “sexist” joke about women “not liking robots except maybe vacuum robots.” 

Notice a pattern here? Red Eye has become a litmus test for squares, the kind of people who think that women are the butt of that joke and not sexism itself–the kind of people who find proper execution of Stephen Colbert’s only joke laughable.

Red Eye has quite the record of zeitgeist: from a feud with Chris Brown that dominated Reddit to getting ripped off by Jay Leno’s writers to beating CNN primetime’s ratings, the insane talent behind the show has consistently pushed its profile way beyond what anything else airing on 3 AM on a news network reviled by the entertainment world would ever achieve.

That’s because Red Eye isn’t a political show. It’s not a testing ground for talking points against Obama or Democrats; it’s not meant to make news with gaffes from consultants, spokesfolks, or politicians. It’s just a place to have fun, a show where Ariel Pink is not only welcome but pursued–where former Governor Mike Huckabee does the voice-over for a segment honoring Torche. 

Most importantly, it’s the greatest parody of cable news’ foibles that has ever existed. It’s so damn funny in the same way Portlandia is funny; Red Eye is mocking what it is, not what it hates. The showrunners all work in cable news. They take the panel discussion format and, instead of blathering about legislative sausage making, they riff on pigs wearing sweatpants in hot cars.

I find it hard to believe Stephen Colbert or his writers didn’t know Greg and Andy were being facetious in the clips they pulled Wednesday night. All it would take is five seconds of context in either direction to figure it out. At best, they really didn’t get the joke, and that proves them dumber than the flyover rednecks they hate. At worst, they knew and ran with it anyway, because “LOL! Faux News” certainly didn’t jump the shark in 2010.

Either way, the Colbert team’s a bunch of squares. It’s been objectively proven now.

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