Colbert: Last One to Know How Great He Is?

Almost two weeks later, the Internet is still buzzing about Stephen Colbert's already legendary scorched earth performance at the White House Correspondent's dinner.

It was a quintessential "All About Eve" -- I mean, "All About Steve" -- moment: He walked up to that podium a basic cable cult figure, and came back a political comedy legend.

Start carving that satiric Mt. Rushmore: Swift, Twain, Bruce… Colbert.

AlterNet's Don Hazen just anointed him a "New American Hero" who gave "one of the bravest, most subversive performances in memory" that will become "a huge marker when people look back on the Bush era."

Millions have watched the video of his performance online and/or read the transcript, and tens of thousands of people have posted letters of gratitude and appreciation to ThankYouStephenColbert.org.

But, shockingly, one of the few people still unaware of just how big an impact the twin evisceration of the president and the puppy dog press has had is Stephen Colbert himself.

When I ran into him the other night at the Time 100 celebration, he told me that he had strenuously avoided reading anything about his appearance -- the good, the bad, or the ugly -- preferring to focus on the present and putting together his nightly TV show.

If anything, he seemed to be nursing a tender spot about the chilly reception his utterly brilliant performance got in the room that night. He is, after all, first and foremost a performer -- and it's tough for any performer, especially one used to appearing in front of a wildly appreciative crowd night after night, to suddenly find himself playing to a hostile crowd. It's the comedy equivalent of having the Dementors from Azkaban enter your body and suck out your spirit.

Nora Ephron framed the dilemma perfectly when she asked, "Is it possible for a comedian to utterly kill and bomb at the same time?"

To which I say, Absolutely. This was Dylan plugging in at Newport in 1965. The crowd may have booed, but the music world had forever shifted.

After my chat with Colbert ended, Evelyn -- Stephen's wife -- told me she was thinking of collecting some of the most interesting comments from the blogosphere and elsewhere about his performance, for when he's ready to read them.

It's a great idea. Here are some excerpts that she should definitely include in the collection. And I hope she convinces him to read them soon:

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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