Twitter, Stephen Colbert and Jon Kyl
Quite often the world of politics and comedy crash together and yield great results. Both Bill Clinton and his indiscretions and George W. Bush and his inability to pronounce became classic fodder for anyone looking to generate laughs. With technology becoming a more integral part of everyone’s life, especially social media, it only follows that the Politics/Comedy/Social Media mash will explode.
This time, it was epic.
First, the background. If you don’t know, there has been a political struggle going on for some time now regarding the budget. Back and forth, back and forth like a tennis match, except much more strenuous on the watcher than the participants. One bone of contention has been the funding of Planned Parenthood.
On Tuesday, the Republican junior Senator from Arizona Jon Kyl said something on the Senate floor that raised eyebrows. He said that over 90% of Planned Parenthood’s activities consist of abortions. The actual number, confirmed by the organization, is closer to 3%.
As soon as Jon Kyl misspoke, his staffers presumably went into damage control mode because hours later, they issued a statement on his behalf. The statement said that the figures Jon Kyl had quoted about Planned Parenthood were “not intended to be a factual statement.”
This crafty response was obviously picked up by most news outlets and it dominated the news cycle that night. Satirist and Colbert Nation leader Stephen Colbert was no exception. He jumped on Senator Kyl and the next day began to flood Twitter with absurd and painfully funny lies about Kyl, always followed by the hashtag #notintendedtobeafactualstatement.
The twitterverse exploded.
Now, I’ve written this article as straight as I can. I’ve tried to leave out all political bias and simply state what happened. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican – a anarchist or a communist – left or right – blue or red – or anywhere outside and in between, most of us will agree that this is some funny stuff.
Here are a couple of my favorite Colbert tweets:
Using Trendistic, a site that measures Twitter trends, Wednesday night at midnight was the prime time for tweets with #notintendedtobeafactualstatement. That hour, .13% of all tweets contained that hashtag. When you think about all the tweets that are sent out in an hour, that amounts to a good chunk.
Of course, tweets with that hashtag have waned, but even a whole day after Colbert stopped talking about it, people are still tweeting wildly about it. In an incredibly unscientific experiment, I have concluded that at the hour of this article’s posting, around 600 new tweets will contain that hashtag.
Two of my favorite user generated tweets are “John Kyl likes to give kids stubble burns” and “Jon Kyl turned down the role of Zoolander.”
Of course, these are followed by #notintendedtobeafactualstatement. If you don’t include that, well, then you’re just lying.