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Steven Paul Mark On Colbert, Writers' Strike

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The following piece was produced by HuffPost's OffTheBus.

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In the movie Network, a satire on Television news, Paddy Chayefsky, the screenwriter, has a character say that television is "democracy at its ugliest." Chayefsky got a laugh but missed the point. It's not democracy at its ugliest; it's paternalism at its slickest.
- Linda Ellerbee
And So It Goes

With that in mind, what effect does the Writers Guild Strike have on the state of alternative campaign coverage? I asked an expert.

Steven Paul Mark was the Comedy Central attorney who managed to get The Daily Show cleared to cover its first political convention as a legitimate news agency. Here's his take on Colbert, the other Stephen's, thwarted run.

KDB: This is where he clears up my Mr. Smith Goes to Washington illusion about the Comedy Central congressional hearing:

SPM: First, I didn't exactly appear before Congress. We were shunted into a side room where we met something called the House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery which, I understand, is like a credentials committee appointed by the House of Representatives. Obviously Congress didn't have the courage to face the nascent news division of Comedy Central.

Thanks to correspondents like Cokie Roberts who voted to give us credentials and said something like, "why not give them credentials, at least they're funny, not like us" we got our temporary press pass. Then it was up to NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN to stop us.

The vote was 2-1 in favor of Comedy Central getting access to the pool feed with one abstention. Thank goodness, the Fox News Channel wasn't even a glimmer in Rupert's eye.

KDB: Rev. Goat Carson, Dr. John 's occasional bandmate, once ran for President with Joe Walsh as his running mate. Rev. Goat recommends that Colbert re-enter the race as a write-in candidate because at least there will be a paper trail to go by. With a field of independents including Lou Dobbs mulling a run, what are your thoughts?

SPM: I think Stephen's strategy was a bit off. Why would anyone want to be a Democrat, even though being a Republican would be out of the question?

I think he needs to consider a third party bid. Being a write-in candidate is definitely a no-no. We've been through the paper trail issue before in Florida.

KDB: What do you think will be the impact on the presidential race, if any, with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report going dark for the Writers Strike?

SPM: As there's really no other source for reliable news and commentary, I fear that the American public's right to know is being infringed.

On that basis alone, I'd recommend a constitutional challenge and seek to enjoin both the writers and producers.

Author's Postscript: Twenty years ago, Linda Ellerbee added a chapter to And So It Goes describing how she had just been fired from NBC for what the Network News President perceived as her making light of Vice President George Bush.

There was no Comedy Central at the time.

Read more about the strike on the Huffington Post's writers' strike page.

Steven Paul Mark is the author of the murder mystery Drift; the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund is a finalist in the Community Building Impact Awards; and Rev. Goat Carson (watch this space for video) wrote the thriller Shallow Graves.