When Stephen Colbert premiered The Colbert Report in 2006, the worst America had to fear was fearmongering itself. Post-9/11 sensationalism had brought about the age of punditry, in which round-the-clock blowhards like Bill O’Reilly offered Americans feelings-based rhetoric that appealed to their fear of Muslims, science, and globalism, and spun the news in a way that echoed their beliefs.
While Jorden Klepper‘s The Opposition tackles an America dealing with the same problems, the difference now is that former Fox News devotees have now turned their attention to news sources that are not beholden to some semblance of journalistic ethics.
Outlets like InfoWars, TheBlaze, and Breitbart are revenue-driven websites with no history of integrity to uphold, and thus, do not have to spin their false narrative out of actual news. Sure, post-9/11 sensationalist fears like the WMDs turned out to be a myth, but that fantasy came straight from White House officials, not from the writers’ room at Breitbart.com.
In his first episode Jordan Klepper’s The Opposition, which follows The Daily Show on Comedy Central, Klepper took the time to introduce the audience to the world of alternative news, and took a note from Colbert’s “truthiness” by coining the phrase “mental nationalism.”
“I know why you’re here,” Klepper began. “You’re here because you’ve noticed that all mainstream media sounds the same.” And they are smuggling “dangerous ideas across the open borders of your mind.”
“I want to shut down those borders. I want to close your mind.” This is “mental nationalism,” and it goes along with the Opposition golden rule: “May you only hear from others what you’ve already been telling yourself.”
This was a solid opening from yet another Daily Show alum. Klepper has always played an all-American type, so it isn’t a huge leap for him to take on the role of the hardline alt-right conservative. He even explained away any formal liberal views or voting history by saying he was a conservative mole placed on the Daily Show staff to spy on the opposition.
“The real truth is, this is not a character,” he said. “This is the real me. So, if you see me in an interview or a deposition say that I’m playing a character, that’s because in that moment I’m simply playing a character who, to throw them off the scent, would say that he is playing a character. Because the truth is, I’m not playing a character, except when I am.”
Whatever that character may or may not be, it’s working. This was a strong debut backed by talented writers, and the show will surely be fun to watch as this administration presents it with gift-wrapped fodder.
Watch the clips below to see Klepper’s take on an Alex Jones-style maniac, and catch The Opposition Monday through Thursday after The Daily Show at 11:30 EST on Comedy Central.