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Published on Aug 4, 2009
We have seen the future of The Washington Post...and it's two dudes and a webcam.
Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza took a lot of heat for their so-unfunny-it-might-be-performance-art video series called "Mouthpiece Theater," particularly a recent piece where Milbank implied the Secretary of State is a "mad bitch." Brilliant, right?
These no-production-value pieces have been widely criticized for having all the charm, wit and insight of a frathouse open mic night. It's as if, the critics cry, Milbank and Cillizza thought "gosh, there's a lot of crude, cruel humor on the web, presented on sets that look like they're in someone's mother's basement. Let's try that."
This criticism is unfair. To concentrate on that series is to ignore the fact that Dana Milbank has been cranking out incredibly unfunny video on behalf of the Washington Post for a long time now. Check this out:
I mean, really. One assumes they pay him over there. Is that what he does in return? One has to earn one's keep somehow. Does he also sweep up or bring in candies or something?
It's no secret the Washington Post has been struggling. Unable to sell newspapers, they've taken to flailing wildly at producing online content with the likes of Milbank--even while he has the cajones to rudely question the credibility of successful online writers like Nico Pitney. (Y'know, he's online-what the hell good is he)?
Yet this seems to be the new WaPo online model: web video commentary that's kind of Colbert/Daily Show-ish. Just without the writing, delivery, production values, insights, comic point-of-view, guests, or jokes. But otherwise, it's pretty much the same deal.
Which brings us to a larger point: the Washington Post seems to be in a long, slow slide into suck. Firing Froomkin may be seen as a point-of-no-return for that once-vital institution. But at least they'll have "Mouthpiece Theater." I like to think they produce it in the Froomkin Memorial Web Production Studio. But they probably do it in a coffee room or something.
Good luck guys. Have you thought about getting a boom mic? We can baaarely hear your awkward, awkward gags.
Dude On The Left: Andy Cobb Dude On The Right: Josh Funk
Written and directed by Andy Cobb
Check out more satire by Andy Cobb and Josh Funk here, with the mighty Public Service Administration: