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Published on November 12th, 2008 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Fallout girl

The past day has been a whirlwind, starting out positively yesterday when the Huffington Post offered to reprint my blog entry regarding election night, and ending negatively when I woke up this morning to find that a hack at Gawker made the decision to write a borderline-libelous characterization of me as “crazy”, “obsessed”, and “enraged”. They went into my website to yank content to use as “support” of my supposed lack of balance, and god knows what else.

Doing the right thing – and expecting others to do the right thing – should never be punished. Those who know me personally know how often I have been punished for that very thing. The Daily Show fucked up. And I’m being punished — not just with what happened a week ago, but now with having my name dragged through the mud for daring to ask for accountability.

This week has been a rollercoaster of faith. Losing faith in the decency of people to do the right thing and not allowing what happened last Tuesday to happen. Gaining faith in the commonality of my experience when so many strangers found this blog and commented or sent me messages privately. And again losing faith in people’s ability to feel empathy.

Gawker’s post:


My full emailed response to the editor:

Since I’ve been unable to create a new account, I will email you my response to the unwarranted attack towards me written by Ryan Tate, copied to my own blog on the not-so-off-chance you don’t run it.

It’s such an easy shortcut to call someone “obsessed” without anything to base it on. Tate stretches his theory so far as to imagine that a great conspiracy was at work, designed to ensure I was 40th in line instead of 4th, and that the audience department would start their ticketing at – gasp! – the front of the line to only let the first 21 people in (although I’ve read a report from someone in that group who states that only 7 of those were ultimately let in the door).

A naiive, obsessive fan would not be demanding accountability from Stewart & co. They would make excuses for them, defend them, and look for any reason to not disrupt their perfect image of the person they look up to. But the days of viewing anyone as “perfect” ended upon entering adulthood. The ability to criticize the thing you support the most is characteristic of an evolved person, not an immature one. Sorry, guys, but nobody gets a free pass just because they’re famous (actually, you folks at Gawker subscribe to that theory, don’t you?).

I did not choose to feel how I felt. I didn’t say “hey, y’know what’ll really show ’em? I’ll be devastated! Then they’ll be sorry!” That’s not what this is. This is an honest illustration — written just a few hours after the fact — of just one of the stories of people who gave up an awful lot to be there, and who were purposely shafted by a few staff members who knew exactly what they were doing. I’m not the only one to feel exactly like this — I’ve heard from other people in line that night, and their sentiments are remarkably similar.

But good for you, Ryan. You’ve cemented the lesson that’s been taught to me repeatedly in life, and in a big way last week: that being passionate is something to be punished. Because I dared to look up to someone as an inspiration, because I believed in someone through career lows and cheered for him through career highs, and because I allowed myself to be influenced by a man’s work — never asking for *anything* in return — I absolutely deserve to be as overwhelmingly sad as I have been this week. (It was, and remains, sadness — not “enraged”, as much as that characterization adds interest to your story).

And not just sad. That sadness itself needs to be punished too, by ensuring that a bitter stranger characterizing me as “crazy” will be the first thing prospective employers see upon googling me. Yes, I’ve learned my lesson: don’t care deeply about anything, ever.

I stand by everything I wrote about my experience at the Daily Show on election night. I stand by the feelings I illustrated because they were real. And I stand by my expectation of accountability because it’s the right thing to do.


About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including amazon.com