Historical ghosts ranging from H.L. Mencken to Richard Pryor are weeping up in heaven today, because the nation's premiere combination of journalism and humor, the Washington Post's "Mouthpiece Theater" has been canceled. Dana Milbank is the Icarus of our generation.
The immediate reason this... thing got killed is the uproar over Milbank's joke about Hilary Clinton drinking "Mad Bitch" beer, which really should not be controversial because it is not funny enough to be controversial.
But the larger reason it got killed is that its very existence rested upon a flawed premise: Namely, the premise that one can be both a Serious Journalist at the Washington Post and an internet funnyman. The more tightly you cling to one, the more you suck at the other. I have not watched and will not watch any episodes of "Mouthpiece Theater," but I can tell you that they were doomed from the start. I can tell you this because Dana Milbank—who actually does write funny things from time to time—is such a smarmy-looking bastard that the notion of watching him, for pleasure and entertainment, by choice, is a non-starter. I can also tell you this because, as a mere blogger/thief, I need not put on any pretentious airs insinuating to you, the reader, that I'm giving you some stolid institutional wisdom above and beyond my worthless opinion. But Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza are bound, by the very fact of their employment at the Washington Post, to do so! Why if Milbank could ease back and just be another smart-ass DC nerd cracking jokes, he might be quite bearable. But because he exists in the weird netherland of "news columnist" writing "humorous journalistic impressions" or whatever tripe descriptor the WaPo has currently placed on him besides the proper "Humor writer," he is sunk from the beginning. And Cillizza is even more of a guy on a Serious Beat, meaning he's even more screwed by the impossible premise of this failed comedic attempt, even if his actual face is not as smarmy-looking as Milbank's.
Is it worth it, Dana Milbank? Is your platform there, at the Washington Post, worth never, ever being able to say that Hillary Clinton is a bitch (it hasn't been fresh for like 15 joke-generations, yet you still can't say it), or that George Bush is a stupid, stupid simian, or that you frequently daydream about hate-fucking Michelle Malkin? You are a comedian in handcuffs, Dana Milbank! You must allow the very institutional halo effect that the outside world so reveres to slip away before you can truly say "Fuck this shit," and be heard.
In short, stop stealing our bit, Washington Post. We make the jokes around here. Or we steal them from Wonkette. Whatever.