The knee-jerk, anti-Muslim theorizing in the immediate aftermath of Friday's terrorist attacks in Norway was not the American media's finest moment.
In fact, it was a moment perfect for mockery, as Stephen Colbert deftly demonstrated on "The Colbert Report" last night. Colbert targeted both the left and the right as he used clips from MSNBC, Fox News, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN to illustrate his point.
"There is a specific jihadist connection here," a Washington Post blogger wrote.
"Al-Qaeda's Ayman Al-Zawarihi has repeatedly singled out Norway," the Wall Street Journal wrote in an editorial.
"You know the Wall Street Journal is accurate, because as a Murdoch paper, they've got proven ways to get information," Colbert joked, referring toNews of the World's hacking scandal.
In fact, the confessed terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, wasn't a Muslim extremist. He was an anti-Muslim extremist.
"These journalists were able to get the story they wanted and scoop reality," Colbert joked. "Even if there was a rush to judgment, we must not repeat that mistake by rushing to accuracy. Just because the confessed murderer is a blond, blue-eyed Norwegian-born anti-Muslim crusader doesn't mean he's not a swarthy, ululating Middle-Eastern madman."
Even more embarrassing than the media's rush to judgment, though, were the half-hearted retractions that came after.
Colbert played a clip of a CNN guest attempting to explain how a Nordic-looking person could have a committed such an attack.
"Maybe it was a good disguise?" the guest theorized.
"Yes," Colbert said, "which is more plausible? That a non-Muslim did this or that Al-Qaeda has developed Polyjuice Potion?" ("Harry Potter" fans will get that reference.)
The Wall Street Journal tried to imply that Muslims could have still been responsible.
"If that hypothetical day should come, that's an imaginary lesson they will not soon pretend to forget," Colbert responded.
And the Washington Post writer argued that Muslims are more likely to kill Americans than non-Muslims.
"If you're pulling a news report completely out of your a--, it is safer to go with Muslim," Colbert said. "That's not prejudice. That's probability."
The segment was Colbert at his finest: Taking on a completely absurd, hysterical moment in American culture and ripping it.