Piece #1: The Colbert Report, “Mayor Rob Ford”
Utter Stupidity: Stephen Colbert satirizes the events that have troubled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s political and personal life by stating at 0:43, “Big mistake Ford (motor company), Rob Ford could help you reach out to a large, lucrative new market, because after all there is no product with more customer loyalty than crack.” This is referring to Ford’s recent appeal to T-shirt manufacturers to stop making T-shirts for Mayor Ford with the Ford logo on them. This is an explicit use of this fallacy that is utilized very humorously and effectively by Colbert.
Bad Example: Mayor Ford was caught urinating next to an elementary school and Colbert says at 1:35, “He was just trying to tell kids to stay in school, seriously kids, stay inside, the mayor is out there.” The example that Colbert uses to prove his argument is wrongly interpreted. Stephen Colbert cleverly makes a connection between staying in school and Mayor Rob Ford’s public urination next to the elementary sch0ol.
False Choice: After discussing the behavior of Mayor Ford, Colbert shares his viewpoint at 1:51, “According to Canadian law, the only ones with the power to arrest the mayor are the Queen and Wayne Gretzky.” There are many more options for the audience to decide who could arrest Mayor Ford, but Colbert only gives them two options.
Piece #2: The Colbert Report, “TIP/WAG US Dept. of Justice and Wall Street”
Tautology: At 00:25, Colbert declares, “I’ve always supported the government spying programs, but apparently, unchecked eavesdropping on our own citizens comes at a terrible price, the price.” The proof and the conclusion that Colbert comes up with are exactly identical. The audience expects to hear a completely different conclusion, however; the proof and conclusion remain unchanged.
Red Herring: Stephen Colbert says at 01:42, “I thought you were responsible enough to handle a widespread surveillance program at your age, you said you had to have one because all of the other leaders of the free world did.” He masterfully creates rhetoric that imitates the conversation that a parent and his or her child would have about a phone bill with additional charges for going over the family’s phone plan. Colbert continues going on a tangent and this creates a comical experience for the audience that is very relatable.
Reductio ad absurdum: Colbert starts talking about the SAT and how many high-schoolers are stressing out about it, at 02:38, “Let me prep you for the test by going through some synonyms, SAT: Panic, Anxiety, Hysteria, Horror, Failure.” Again, Colbert hilariously offers high school students a preparation for the SAT by giving them words that all lead to more stress for the examination. The words that he asks become more ridiculous each successive time, which eventually conclude with the word, failure.
Piece #3: The Colbert Report, “Obama’s Overtime Pay Expansion”
Nasty Language: As Colbert describes how Obama bypassed Congress to pass new overtime rules, he calls President Obama the “Marxist-in-Chief at 00:35, which puts the President in a bad light. This is all a part of Colbert’s ploy to pretend to criticize the Commander-in-Chief when he is actually praising him for making companies pay more money to its employers for working overtime hours.
Bad Example: Colbert discusses how the overtime pay will be exempt for those who supervise people for 5% of the time and further states at 01:35, ” Folks, that makes sense to me, even when you are stocking shelves, you are managing a lot of people: Little Debbie, Chef Boyardee, the Dough Boy…” The examples that Colbert gives are irrelevant and false.
Overall, Stephen Colbert has mastered the use of fallacies for his 30-minute TV show segments. His prowess has been unmatched in many aspects and he continues to deliver great satirical pieces that please audiences nationwide. The fallacies used are all witty and very appealing to viewers.