Colbert on Krauthammer

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"Charles Krauthammer on Obama's Mental State", The Colbert Report 9/22/2014:

In case you didn't make it through the introductory commercial, here's the high point of the piece:

Some LLOG background:

"Another casual lie from Charles Krauthammer", 9/16/2014
"Open fraud as Op-Ed discourse", 7/10/2010

Update — I get slightly different numbers. Krauthammer's side of the transcripts provided here, and Obama's transcript here have the following word and pronoun counts, according to my script:

Total Words "I" All FPSP All SPSP All FPPP
Krauthammer 902 40 (4.4%) 45 (4.9%) 30 (3.3%) 2 (0.2%)
Obama 1396 10 (0.7%) 15 (1.1%) 3 (0.2%) 94 (6.7%)

(FPSP = "first person singular pronouns", i.e. I, me, my, mine; SPSP = "second person singular pronouns", i.e. you, your, yours; FPPP = "first person plural pronouns", i.e. we, us, our, ours.)

Some of Krauthammer's FPSP are alleged quotations from Obama, but even if these are subtracted, his rate of FPSP usage is still several times as great as Obama's.  I'm ashamed to say that it didn't occur to me to compare Obama to Krauthammer himself, simply because it's a bit unfair — in a conversational setting like the Hewitt interview, we expect substantially higher rates of FPSP usage. But fairness is hardly relevant in making fun of someone who peddles careless untruths (in the technical sense, bullshit) as political commentary.


  1. James said,

    September 24, 2014 @ 6:42 pm

    So Colbert's pretend comedy news manages to scoop the news shows.


  2. Eric P Smith said,

    September 24, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

    I'm amused by the message I get:

    Sorry, but this video is unavailable from your location. It's one of the detriments of living under a monarchy. But in case you can't give up your silly accents and move to America, watch clips from the Colbert Report at

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Salmond all use more ‘I’s than Obama.

  3. Ken said,

    September 24, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

    I'm having trouble viewing the video. Did Colbert mention that Krauthammer is an MD and certified in psychiatry? If so, was the idea of "professional ethics" mentioned?

  4. Mara K said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 12:16 am

    In Canada you get: "Sorry, but this video is unavailable from your location, probably due to your overly polite attitudes. But never fear, as you can watch clips from The Colbert Report at"

  5. Dierk said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 1:14 am

    @Ken Yes and yes. It was the point of the whole skit.

    When asked for his opinion as a psychiatrist, Krauthammer started by acknowledging he doesn't do pro-psychiatry any more since remote diagnosis is crap. And then he began his "analysis" of Obama on the grounds of one speech.

    The who-uses-more-I point was incidental to Colbert's bit.

  6. Martin J Ball said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 1:14 am

    Aw – in Sweden we only get a bland "unavailable" notice. What, nothing funny for the Swedes???

  7. Jenny said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 3:49 am

    In Australia the message we get is:

    Sorry, but this video is unavailable from your location. It's one of the detriments of living under a monarchy. But in case you can't give up your vegemite and move to America, watch clips from the Colbert Report at

  8. Riikka said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 5:02 am

    I get a boring one, too: "You're so close, yet so far away. We're sorry, but this video isn't available in your location."
    Apparently there's no alternative source for us Nordics, either.

  9. Stuart Brown said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 7:07 am

    Bizarrely, the video plays fine here in France!

  10. Terry Hunt said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 9:15 am

    Perhaps President Obama could divert all these implications of narcissism and mental instability by always referring to himself in the third person.

  11. Matt_M said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    @Stuart Brown: but then, France is a republic.

  12. Dan Lufkin said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    @Martin J Ball — It's not true that Swedes have no sense of humor; it's just that nothing funny has happened there yet.

  13. TonyK said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 12:24 pm

    @Terry Hunt: Thank you for that! One LOL'ed.

  14. J. W. Brewer said,

    September 25, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

    Dierk: interestingly enough, the US professional ethical norm against psychiatrists purporting (in their professional capacity) to engage in such "remote diagnosis" of famous people in the news has its backstory in a controversy where various psychiatrists offered negative evaluations of a presidential candidate (who had never been their patient and whom they had never examined) but with a different partisan valence:

    It's possible that that norm was inculcated into Dr. Krauthammer during his early professional training sufficiently that he at least automatically engages in a pro forma disclaimer that he's not speaking as a psychiatrist-as-such before shooting his mouth off in the same way that pundits w/o M.D.'s do.

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