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Martin Schneider writes:

The Colbert Report, always eager to seize on a smaller story it can imprint itself on, last night dedicated the entire episode to Steve Martin and the art world.

Colbert delivered a report on the 92Y affair that was close to the original reporting of events, which is to say a bit hard on the audience purportedly demanding to hear Martin discuss his movies, a characterization I have already debunked. Colbert also included footage of a Fox News report I had not seen before, in which the 92Y audience is described as "irate" (again, certainly not true).

Colbert's account, while inaccurate and unfair, was certainly very funny and about what one would expect the show to do—that's where all the jokes are, and Steve Martin is there in person as a guest.

Martin appeared in the guise of an expert on art, art collector, and author of a book about the art world. He refused to entertain offers to purchase a vainglorious multi-portrait of Colbert. Also appearing were artists Frank Stella, Shepard Fairey, Andres Serrano.

One lesson of the 92Y affair is that Steve Martin has a lot more power than all the other players involved. Since the event, Steve Martin has had an op-ed published in the New York Times and appeared on Later on Sunday Morning and The Colbert Report. Nobody else involved with the story has the clout to do that.

Now that Steve Martin's version of events has assumed center stage since Saturday or so, we have seen an equal diminution of the role of Deborah Solomon in the 92Y affair. Solomon's name was not mentioned on The Colbert Report, and I think it was not mentioned in the Later on Sunday Morning appearance.

It's wise to remember that Steve Martin has been pushing this story vigorously and that his motives for doing so are obvious: he would like to make himself appear modest and affable, and he has a new novel to sell. Meanwhile the unjust portrayal of an intolerant 92Y and 92Y audience continues to be pushed by the media outlets willing to propagate Steve Martin's account. Such is the power of stardom.


I really appreciated your thoughtful analysis of the 92Y evening, however, in his appearance on Later on Sunday Morning, Martin was critical of 92Y for refunding the audience’s money, but he was not critical of the audience. He was even willing to admit he may have been boring.

Yes, and I should also add that he was pretty funny on Colbert—as he was at the 92Y!

I’m trying to separate two things here, and not always succeeding. Colbert poked fun at 92Y and Martin’s version of events has been taking center stage. This means that he can be self-effacing on his own terms and that he can write Solomon out of the story if he chooses. 92Y doesn’t have that option.

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