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Thoughtful Professor Noted Briefly by Celebrity-Obsessed Media
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September 28, 2010, 10:56 PM
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The publicity from comedian Stephen Colbert’s self-serving stunt of testifying to the congressional subcommittee on immigration continues to burble along in the dinosaur press.

Today’s excuse to write about the Comedy Central star, er, today’s media concern extends to the vital question of celebrity witnesses. What could be more fascinating than the do-gooder hobbies of entertainers?

The name of another witness, the accomplished writer and Vanderbilt Professor Carol Swain (pictured), came up in connection with the additional attention she had received because of the Colbert clown show.

Colbert sparks debate about �expert’ celebrities, Associated Press, September 28, 2010

There are congressional hearings and there are comedy shows, and the twain rarely meet.

So when a House panel on immigration combined them on purpose last week with testimony from Stephen Colbert (kohl-BEHR’) and his �truthy� alter ego, debate broke out on the proper roles of the many celebrities — from Angelina Jolie to Bono to Elmo — who advocate in Washington.

In Colbert’s appearance, there was profit to be made from the public, taxpayer-funded forum on one of the nation’s weightiest issues, the plight of migrant workers. Immigrant advocates won national news coverage; Colbert helped generate material for his show; politicians scored live coverage of themselves during a brutal election year; and the media bagged a widely viewed story.

Witness Carol Swain, the law school professor who testified before Colbert, was ticked at being overshadowed by a fictional talk show host. But she scored, too. Before the hearing was over, Swain’s Twitter and Facebook followings soared. People e-mailed her at Vanderbilt University Law School. A guy recognized her the next day in the grocery store.

�It’s increased my visibility in a number of ways,� Swain said Monday. �I don’t think it would have gotten that much attention had he not been on the panel.� [ . . . ]

Swain said she agreed with that, if not Colbert’s testimony or the Democrats’ approach to the plight of migrant workers.

�I have testified before,� Swain said. But this time, because she spoke before Colbert and people had to sit through her remarks to hear his, �people heard my testimony.�

Anything missing here? Say maybe the gist of Prof. Swain’s testimony? How about a sentence or two mentioning her support for American workers displaced by exploitable alien labor? (Read Swain’s testimony.)

Here is a tube of her remarks:

Meanwhile, not every citizen was amused by Colbert’s buffoonery. AllAmericanBlogger.com created a video response to Congress’ lack of seriousness about open borders: Illegal Immigration Is No Joke.