Saturday, October 16, 2004

STEWART IN THE CROSSFIRE. Media Log has received several e-mails urging me to look at Jon Stewart's getting-more-famous-by-the-minute appearance on CNN's Crossfire yesterday, and asking me what I make of it. Frankly, not much. In taking down hosts Paul Begala and especially Tucker Carlson, Stewart offered some sharp criticism of the mainstream media and political discourse - criticisms with which I largely agree. But Stewart seems not to realize his own place in the modern media firmament.

Stewart's Daily Show does enormous numbers for cable; a recent appearance by Bill Clinton drew a reported 1.9 million viewers. The crew has a bestselling book, America (The Book). Stewart's on the cover of Rolling Stone. By contrast, Crossfire is a dying show based on a dying paradigm. (At least I'd like to think so, although Fox's detestable Hannity & Colmes would seem to suggest otherwise.) Moved out of its prime-time slot last year, Crossfire is now seen at 4:30 p.m. by an audience that is somewhere around 500,000 people - few of them in the prime youth demographic that watches Stewart.

Despite this power imbalance, Stewart's attitude during his Crossfire appearance was that he was the little guy, standing up for what is good and true against the big, bad mainstream media in the persons of Carlson and Begala. Look at what he said every time he was challenged:

If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to....

You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility.... I didn't realize that - and maybe this explains quite a bit ... is that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity....

You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.

Yes, Stewart made some serious points about the deleterious effect of shouting-head shows such as Crossfire. But every time Carlson tried to defend himself, he pulled his Hey-I'm-just-a-comedian shtick. The fact is, it's Jon Stewart who is the 500-pound gorilla. He's already won. Far from speaking truth to power, his appearance was akin to the victor coming in and shooting the wounded.

Look at this Annenberg Center survey on how knowledgeable Daily Show viewers are about politics. The Daily Show may be a comedy program, but it's more politically savvy than anything else on television, and Stewart's interviews with political figures are uncommonly insightful and civilized.

No doubt Stewart thought he was performing a public service yesterday. The truth is that he does that every Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. Yesterday, he was just a bore and a bully.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I normally agree with you, but on Stewart you are so wrong. You seem to have the same problem as Carlson: You have conflated two very different phenomena: Stewart's impact on popular culture and the relationship of journalism and democracy. Yes, Stewart has an impact on politics, but that is an unintended consequence of his fake news comedy show. He's saying journalists should remember the public service role of their craft, which seems to have been lost as journalism lowers itself to mere entertainment like Crossfire. I agree that Stewart is an important pop culture figure, but I can't believe you would try to argue that Stewart and CNN are fighting the same fight.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts (almost) exactly."I agree that Stewart is an important pop culture figure, but I can't believe you would try to argue that Stewart and CNN are fighting the same fight."

Then what was Stewart doing? If he wasn't fighting the fight, what was that?

Jim

Anonymous said...

Dan, you seem to think that Jon Stewart is required to accept the mantle of "great influence".

He's not. His job is to make people laugh; in his case today, on a program aimed at politically savvy people.

In comments both in and out of "The Daily Show", Stewart's made it clear that he feels that the media is lying down on the job. *Especially* when pundits and surveys treat his program as if it were a real news show.

Carlson was trying to defend himself by projecting *his* job onto Stewart. *That's* indefensible.

Hopefully guests who continue to ambush them will deep-six all of these nasty no-news arena-argument "news programs", but I won't hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

I'm not persuaded that because Stewart has bigger ratings and a younger demographic than Crossfire, he should hold his fire and just wait for Crossfire to wither away. The Crossfire team can benefit from listening to what Stewart is saying about how the media are failing us. Crossfire would also do well to go to school on the Monty Python "Argument Clinic" sketch to be reminded of the difference between argument, abuse, contratdiction, and being hit on the head. Crossfire has much to learn from comedians. And comedians shouldn't be shy about teaching it.

Anonymous said...

Ben Franklin saw the role of the press to inform and educate. I have not seen the mainstream media be accountable for obvious failures like the high percent of people who believe that Saddam was behind 911 and other pieces of propoganda by the administration.

Jon Stewart made explicit that the media is not doing its job and did it on TV which is good for setting the frame of a position, but TV seldom models thoughtful dialogue. "Be nice to each other" Jon said.

The meadiamatters.org site is an important step in the long term effort to get the media back to their role. The founder of mediamatters, David Brock, in his useful book "The Republician Noise Machine" says in the introduction "its the media stupid."

Robin Newberry said...

Did you even watch the show? Jon's point was not that "he was the little guy, standing up for what is good and true against the big, bad mainstream media" but that his was a *fake news comedy show* on Comedy Central, and not to be either tasken seriously or held up as a model of journalistic integrity.

John Emerson said...

Shooting the wounded seems like an excellent idea to me.

Crossfire per se may have low ratings, but they're just one of a dozen or more equally-bad shows, many of which have much bigger audiences, and both Begala and Carlson have other outlets. It would have been nice if Stewart could have done Hannity, O'Reilly or Russert, but that wasn't going to happen.

Stewart was a bit cutesy about just being a humble comedian, but that was deliberate, and it made his point. He also refused to be funny, which was very funny.

Stewart 6, Begala 0, Kennedy -1, Carlson -5.

Anonymous said...

Holding journalists' feet to the fire is a good start toward encouraging them to actually challenge the politicians. So hurray for columns that are watching the media and holding them to account. But why attack Jon Stewart? Stewart can be accused of being witty, but Dan Kennedy accuses him of being a bully and "shooting the wounded." At least Stewart is not hauling lumber from the propaganda mills. He had points to make against Crossfire and I think Kennedy should have helped him out. Stewart got his point made against Crossfire by opening with "Stop! You are hurting America" and "Your partisan hackery and phoney debates should go. Stop, please!" Then Crossfire's Carlson--and then Media Log!--come with the mean counter-attacks and diversion. Carlson said "you kiss Kerry's throne and you are are accusing us of partisan hackery," "you need to get a job at a journalism school." And when Stewart said calling Crossfire's stuff "debates" was like saying pro wrestling was a show about athletic contests," Carlson whined "lecture, lecture, lecture; you're susposed to be a commedian, Jon, so say something funny." Who is the bully here? In fact Jon Stewart is consistently fresh, witty, and kind and deserves no put-downs from inattentive commentators on the media.

Anonymous said...

Why should a comedian have to be funny when he is being interviewed? Why can't he be serious, or put his opinions out there, and, if Crossfire is a supposed debate show with two sides, why were both hosts trying to shut him down or trying to make him tell jokes? He may be the 500 lb gorilla compared to that show, but he show isn't the 500 lb gorilla compared to CNN. And, why can't he be honest about how he feels CNN or mainstream news media have failed in being news, on being informative, on educating on the truth, as opposed to being watered. I read the transcript to that show -- and it's funny that Stewart cares about the news more than those two.

Anonymous said...

I think the only reason that Stewart *is* a 500 pound gorilla is because the media is not doing its job. I agree that Crossfire is a dying show based on a dying paradigm, but I think that could be said of television news in general (and more frequently anymore, the print media).Instead of reporting facts they get caught up in spin or go for the easy out of spewing back the talking points of the political party. I have never seen a legitimate news show do what The Daily Show did, which was show different politicians and commentators saying word for word the exact same sentence. If the reporters on CNN or ABC or the other networks were focused less on spin and more on calling people to task for their positions then the Daily Show would just be a quaint little fake news show in the tradition of "That was the week that was", "Weekend Update" on SNL and "Not Necessarily the News" from long ago on HBO.

Look the public knows its getting spun, we even expect to be spun, but journalism's role is not to regurgitate that spin back to us, its role is to ask tough questions, be skeptical of those in power and inform people. Its sad that the only show that consistently comes close to doing that is a fake news show that comes on after puppets making crank calls.

Anonymous said...

Dan, I take your point. But what has Stewart really won? The news media is still full of drivel. Doing what he does on his own show is great, but he went into the news media's own house and did what many of us have dreamt of doing (They should let Bob Somerby on these shows regularly). The Daily Show, for all of its great media criticism is still a comedy show and inherently doesn't have the same responsibility that CNN has.

It is tempting to say that the stands that the Daily Show has taken, and its growing viewership (though it was funny to see Drudge take this weekend as an opportunity to show that their ratings were down in September) has given them some clout, and with that responsibility, but in the end, I don't buy it. They each are serving a purpose, and CNN and other news outlets have a much greater responsibility.

By the way, Stewart has recently been on O'Reilly and he was regretfully not as pointed, as O'Reilly certainly has a larger viewership than Crossfire and is probably even more deserving. Hannity and Colmes need a smackdown as well. My other regret is that Novak, who Stewart has referred to numerous times as a 'Douchebag of Liberty' wasn't on the Crossfire panel on Friday.

Anonymous said...

"Dan, you seem to think that Jon Stewart is required to accept the mantle of 'great influence'. He's not. His job is to make people laugh; in his case today, on a program aimed at politically savvy people."

Did you see it? He wasn't there to make people laugh (although he did, because he's a funny guy and he can't help it even when he's trying not to). He was there to call out Carlson and Begala. He was trying to use his influence to bring about change. I mean, right after you made this comment, you went on to make that very point. When he keeps taking off and putting on his clown nose as it suits the moment, he's going to get called on it.

Jim

GM said...

Even if Jon Stewart's ratings were as big as Jay Leno's or David Letterman's and he was as famous as Will Rogers - so what? Stewart is a COMEDIAN. Carlson and Begala are veteran political PUNDITS and long-time denizens of the Beltway.
As for the notion that "'Crossfire' is a dying show based on a dying paradigm", give me a break. It's THE ONLY paradigm nowadays. Virtually all cable network "panel shows" now use some kind of rude, low-brow "crosstalk" format, riddled with obnoxious, biased hosts and interrupting, spinning guests. (Frankly, if you can't make that connection, you have the wrong job). That is one of the major things that Stewart was trying to discuss - the decline of political discourse and how it deprives those of us who are NOT JOURNALISTS - whether we be executives, cleaning ladies, or comedians - of intelligent information.
Stewart wasn't talking about ratings. He was referring to their respective journalistic credentials and responsibilities.

Morat said...

Man, Stewart does everything but build a 4-lane highway to his point and you still miss it.

Let's dumb it down even further. Jon Stewart's point is this: "My show is a parody of cable news. A PARODY. Yet we are seen, by far too many people, as a MORE CREDIBLE SOURCE OF NEWS. Doesn't that worry you? For Christ's sake, I'm a comedian. I'm making fun of cable news, not running a news desk. What the hell is the matter with you guys?".

mike77 said...

Jon Stewart was nothing less then incredible. The problem with the meida is this, if you divide the country into two camps and allow forums to be nothing but rethoric and shouting maches then real disscussion on key issues are avoided. This is a severe diservice for the american people who don't have the time to do their own research and policy making while they tend to their careers and family.
I think his interviews have swayed from being light hearted to critical. For example when Wolf Blitzer was on he grilled him. But when O"Reilly was on they had a more confortable informative disscussion. Should he have been more critical of Kerry's postions on issues? maybe... Is it his job? no he works for a comedy program.
And it was great watching Paul and Tucker pretending not to know what spin alley is. For those of you who are not part of the media heres a brush up.

ST. LOUIS — The most absurd exercise in American politics always takes place in the hectic moments after a debate. It's ''Spin Alley,'' where talking heads dispense partisan patter in a roomful of hundreds of hectic, on-deadline journalists.
If you are a C-SPAN junkie, you have probably caught this surrealistic swirl. It is over-the-top, excessive, the theater of the absurd. If the Coen brothers - producers of such twisted cult flicks as ''Fargo'' and ''Blood Simple'' - were to make a movie about politics, they would call it ''Spin Alley.''
Little of it bears any resemblance to the truth. It would be more amusing were it not so symptomatic of a who's-ahead-at-this-very-moment political culture that is about to let big questions go unanswered on Election Day 2000.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/raasch/r063.htm

Anonymous said...

You have a point, but you overstate it.

He does get better ratings than they do, but Crossfire is only one part of a nearly universal trend on TV cable news. I would assume Stewart singled them out because:
1) they are on CNN, not Fox, and have hosts from the left and right, so it would not be wrongly understood as just a partisan critique.
2) they still employ Robert Novak.

He should have asked tougher questions to Kerry, and he is being a little disingenuous with the "just a comedian" shtick. He does get more trust from the public than CNN as well as higher ratings, so yes, there's some moral obligation there and he's not "just a comedian".

But if that is true, it is entirely to his credit and to their detriment--and CNN wants to admit it even less than Stewart does. Take this Washington Post chat with Carlson. Excerpt:

Copenhagen, Denmark: Stephen Colbert of the Daily Show recently said in the New York Times that "The conventions are like industrials -- they're sales rallies where politicians say things people have already heard to people who already believe them."
Do you agree? Do the political pundit talkshows have something to offer that is different from the Daily Show?

Tucker Carlson: Of course on both counts. Yes, conventions are phony. Obviously.

And yes news shows, even loud ones, are different from entertainment shows. News shows bring you news.

Anonymous said...

Crossfire is a dying paradigm? Really? Then why is every other Sunday morning political show under the same format? Why are the debates under that format? For God's sake, why are bloggers under that format (from the left, Atrios, from the right, Tacitus)?

The chief thrust of his argument was the entire media, not just Crossfire, was focused on the ephemeral and the irrelevant, instead of an honest debate on the facts and merits of the argument, not the attitude, position or spin. Try to bring up real issues in this context and the media changes the subject or launches a personal attack.

Whether you're aware of this or not, your own comments bely this bias - you went right to Stewart's "attitude" and dismissed his argument. Maybe Jon hit a bit too close to home?

That show was one for the time capsule. Tucker looked foolish because he's a idiot. Begala looked equally foolish - and even inadvertantly revealed he and Carlson are, in effect, on the same side.

But there would be little difference if Stewart went on Wolf Blitzer, Hannity and Colmes, McLaughlin, or this blog. The entire media has devolved into caricature - you just look at it and its funny. Stewart wins by just showing up.

Anonymous said...

Don't you see the irony Jon Stewart is portraying when you state that "The Daily Show may be a comedy program, but it's more politically savvy than anything else on television"? I don't think you get it. This is not about who has the higher ratings, that is the exact thing he is satirizing. Isn't it a sad state of affairs when a comedy show is more politically savvy and its viewers are more well informed than someone who watches CNN? CNN is supposed to inform, The Daily Show is meant to entertain and it is inadvertantly doing a better job informing than journalists. When we does his, "Hey, I'm just a comedian" excuse, he is trying to say, "Look, do your jobs. It's not my job." By calling him a Gorrilla based on ratings, you are doing exactly what the news programs do, throwing away the truth of the matter based on all-mighty ratings.

Anonymous said...

If Stewart was to be responsible, he could assure that his show was aired on broadcast TV, maybe even repeated for free after the late talk shows, so as to educate the less savvy.

He could make sure that a best of show was availabe for broadcast transmission once a week for early weekend morning broadcast (woudn't that open some eyes).

Maybe he's still crying over the attacks.

The dickhead didn't know about the bulge on GWB's back. He didn't know enough to say to Carlson, " How come the incumbent PResident has never had to answer whether and what his criminal record is?"

The only thing Steart is right about is he is a jackass on a station for jackasses. If he's tired of Crossfire (and who isn't) turn it off. The media won't change too many votes this campaign. That's the candidates' jobs, and the one starkly different candidate was not given the nod in the primaries because he was viewed as not electable.

Look, dummies, the Right knows Jesus is a bedtime story. There's a lot of anger in the country and real chaos coming soon. There's empire games to be played. Most voters know this. They also know that if their lives suck, damned if they're gonna participate in it being joyful (and rational) for someone else. They'd rather be on the side of the vicious fuckup.

See why it splits 50-50? See why Rove'll attack KErry's family next week?

Chibi said...

Jon Stewart a bully? Give me a break. He went on Crossfire to plead with those two buffoon that what they are doing is destroying any kind of meaningful political discussion. Crossfire may be losing it's audience but only because--as many other commenters have mentioned--the format has been widely copied and it's not the only game in town. Sadly, I think it's gotten to the point where this kind of polarized shout-fest is kind of the standard form of political dialog. How often do you see civilized discourse in the blogs between the right and the left? It's basically the rabble's electronic text version of Crossfire. The problem, as Stewart rightly points out, is that it's all theater, a pro wrestling version of journalism. Blogs where "debates" emerge in the threads, typically are no different from what you see on NFL message boards. Monkey see, monkey do.

Right now, we're still getting dragged through the mud by those Swift Boat Liars, and now we've got the Cheney's disingenuous outrage over their openly lesbian daughter being used as an example of a lesbian. If the media had any respect for the sometimes-proud profession of journalism, they might want to ask themselves, "Is this really important?" Instead, because the Cheneys act pissed, it gets a news cycle. I heard it mentioned this morning on the so-called liberal NPR. It's just pushing their spin instead of applying a bit of critical thought. Instead we get tabloid journalism. The reason Stewart is doing so well is that the public--the educated public I should mention as we now know his viewers to be--knows that what it's being fed by journalists is empty calories. Stewart doesn't pretend to be an alternative, yet that's what he's become. The skewering of the real news his show delivers wouldn't be nearly so funny if the real news was a bit more serious about their role in society.

And one last comment. Tucker called Stewart Kerry's butt boy, and accused him of sniffing his throne. I thought he got off easy being called a dick.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help wondering how this would have gone if the Douchebag of Liberty, Bob Novak, had been on the show since Jon Stewart has complete contempt for him - and who doesn't, other than the White House vermin who tipped him off with Valerie Plame's identity? - would he have been any more pointed in his criticisms of him, if that's possible? And if James Carville had been on, what then?

Anonymous said...

James Carville represents Ariel Sharon and lizard-mates with Mary Matalin at Kstreet intersections.People have had contempt for Novak before Stewart was born and it only makes him more rabid.

Jon Stewart is an ass-wipe; the only person whose response to 9/11 was more embarsssing than Bush's.

Anonymous said...

i think YOU'RE the idiot.

blogging is so worthless.

Anonymous said...

I like what Stewart does, but I think if we want to take down the corporate media then we need a viable alternative. one new organization I have found that is trying to do just that is the COA (www.COAnews.org).

I think we should support organizations like this, and help build them.

Stewart has his place in this struggle and we have ours.

Anonymous said...

Dan, you're usually very insightful, but you missed the point here completely.

It's true, Stewart has a huge viewership, most of whom are better informed than the viewers of cable news shows. *That's what pisses Stewart off*. He's a comedian and a talk show host. He wants to be a comedian and a talk show host. And yet because he is one of the only people in the media who -- as a comedian, not a pundit -- is willing to call it like he sees it, he's found himself bearing a moral responsibility to the citizens of the U.S. He doesn't want that responsibility. He doesn't want to be partisan (remember the Daily Show of old?). And I'd say he finds it incredibly unfair that he's not free to do his job because the talking heads on CNN aren't doing theirs.

How dare Tucker Carlson accuse a fluff talk show host of not being a hard-ass to a guest? We're talking about a man who spends 50% of his interviews interviewing actors, and a host of Crossfire has the balls to say "we're not tough on guests, but neither are you"?

-deborah

Anonymous said...

So, Stewart criticizes Crossfire. Then Crossfire, mainly Carlson, criticizes Stewart's character/status/worth as a human being, essentially arguing: Who are you to say anything serious? You say we're hacks but you're the real hack.

Stewart makes self-deprecating remarks about just what a suck-up he was in his Kerry interview. There are attempts to equate, or not equate, the Daily Show with Crossfire. But the dispute - not "debate" - degenerates from there, with name-calling from everyone.

In the process not one argument comes up in favor of Crossfire's legitmacy or worth either as a public service or as simple entertainment. Part of this is because Stewart cuts off Carlson very early on when Carlson says "But in its defense..." Part of this is because Carlson subsequently shows that his idea of defense is: "the Daily Show sucked up to John Kerry. And now Jon Stewart is not being funny. Whatever he says about us is beneath acknowledgment except as pompous lecturing."

Your conclusion: Stewart was a bully and a bore.

Your criticisms imply that Stewart would have been more polite, more respectful, and less pompous had he said: Your show is a dying paradigm. Your ratings don't match mine. Your show is beneath me. I am bigger than all of you. I am a 500 pound gorilla and soon, if it has not already happened, you will barely be fit to clean up my droppings.

But by saying that his show was only comedy, and that by all measures it is his persona and his show that should be considered beneath a newstalk show on a major news network, Stewart in fact was being disengenuous and "shooting the wounded." Or so you argue.

The fact that the result of Stewart's appearance has been a wide-ranging, lively, and above all high-minded debate over when he is, is not, or should be, wearing a clown-nose illustrates just how much Crossfire-type programs have done to warp people's understanding of the relative importance of the issues of the day.

Cassford said...

Power imbalance? Prime youth, sadly, don't vote. Prime youth, sadly, do not run major corporations. His show is comedy, not news. It is clearly labeled as such. Crossfire is labeled as a no-holds-barred debate on the news. It is no such thing. It is entertainment.

You are way off on this one, Dan.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people miss the point that the Daily Show is not just political satire. It's also a satire of the news media, especially the cable channels:

"And the right-wing responded to the Kerry campaign with a baseless retort."
"Ed, why are you reporting right-wing allegations that have no basis in fact?"
"Jon, we're journalists. We have to show balance."
"What about our duty to the truth?"
"Truth? Jon, our job is to make sure both sides get their say. Are you trying to say we're supposed to be evaluating these perspectives on a factual basis?"

All Stewart really did on "Crossfire" was to make explicit the very thing he's been satirizing for years.

Anonymous said...

You're saying that John Stewart's elevated role in "the media" gives him some sort of a responsibility, and that he attempted to dodge that on the show? I disagree...

There used to be a difference between the news media and the entertainment media in this country. John Stewart signed on to the Daily Show to be a part of one and - in this absurdist novel we call the real world - has essentially crossed over to the other. I do think he accepts the mantle of responsibility his visibility gives him (his appearance on Crossfire was evidence enough) but I think he's somewhat enraged at his having to assume that mantle at all. Our news media has become the entertainment media, and so a fake-news comedian has had to become our truth-teller. It's pathetic, he knows it, and he said it loud to those two morons on Crossfire. Stewart's appearence was one of the boldest and best things any news figure has done this year, and I wanted to hug him for it. Exposing and cutting out a tumor isn't bullying.

Anonymous said...

Bully? Bully?

Sheez, how can you bully Tucker Carlson, one of the biggest-dog bullies on the air?

That Stewart treated the hosts as they treat their usual victims, er, I mean guests, warrants way major praise, dudes and dudettes.

That satirical, "fake" news expresses the way things are more accurately and dead-on-to-the-point than a "real" news show such as Crossfire, well, that speaks volumes, doesn't it? Wait, there really is a reason that it's called a "show" isn't there? Friday night, 15 October, 2004, the ghosts of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were laughing their ectoplasmic asses off somewhere out there in the void.

In closing, I only can say that I anxiously await Hunter Thompson's Gonzo take on this administration and these lizard times. Hunter, you are writing, aren't you? Perhaps Mr. Carlson and the boys will have him on. I doubt Mr. Thompson will be so gentlemanly as merely to term Mr. Carlson a dick.

Anonymous said...

That previous post was fantastic- I hate to have to follow it, but here goes;

"October 24, 2004
JON STEWART GETS SERIOUS
If You Interview Kissinger, Are You Still a Comedian?
By DAMIEN CAVE

IS Jon Stewart being coy?

In a recent dust-up with Tucker Carlson on CNN's "Crossfire," Mr. Stewart defended a soft interview he conducted with John Kerry. He wasn't a commentator on CNN, like Mr. Carlson, he said, but a host on "The Daily Show," which is on Comedy Central.

"The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls," he said.

Whether he likes it or not, Mr. Stewart's mix of news and satire has become so successful that the comedian is suddenly being criticized for not questioning his guests with Tim Russert-like intensity. (It has been that kind of campaign.)"


The word "suddenly" points up the hypocrisy- I've always hated when shows suddenly changed their whole formats for a single show because the actors or writers or whatever have an attack of conscience or feel like making some statement. And where was their outrage before Jon attacked existing media?

It's like if I bought a box of cheerios and inside the box was oatmeal instead, put there because the makers decided for me that it was better for me. Thanks for caring, but give me what I bought/tuned in for.

And for that matter, what about the viewers with zero interest in politics for whom The Daily Show is their "gateway drug"? There are plenty of places they can choose to go to to get more serious analysis of things political, but if the Daily Show morphed into some more "serious" (whatever that means) version of itself, then doesn't that mean that its role as a bridge to more "serious" things is lost? What then would perform that function?


"Stewart needs to be more self-aware," wrote Dan Kennedy, a media critic at The Boston Phoenix, an alternative magazine, on his blog. "By offering serious media criticism, and then throwing up his hands and saying, in effect, 'Hey, I'm just a comedian' every time Carlson took him on, Stewart came off as slippery and disingenuous. Sorry, Jon, but you can't interview Bill Clinton, Richard Clarke, Bill O'Reilly, Bob Dole, etc., etc., and still say you're just a comedian."


Uh, yeah, actually, he can, retard. Let me say this s-l-o-w-l-y like Jon did on crossfire so you may be able to grasp it; if he were to suddenly decide to get all serious, he could well be in breach of his contract, and might even get his butt fired for not doing the job he was hired for, namely, that of making people laugh.

Maybe you as a member of the supposedly serious press should examine your own behavior. This whole thing seems to have touched a nerve in you...

"Each side is still uneasy with the other because they have a self image that is different from the reality," he said. "Tucker was complaining that Stewart wasn't being funny. He wasn't wanting commentary, he wanted entertainment. And Stewart wanted to take advantage of the show to make some serious statements."

Actually, I thought it was pretty funny. In fact, I thought it was friggin hilarious. And so did Crossfire's audience, apparently. I laughed good hard belly laughs, and I'll tell you, it made me feel really good that someone did what Jon Stewart did. Carlson was just pissed that the humor was at his expense.

Oh, and before I forget, I should point out that practically your whole article rests on a very shaky foundation; i.e., that the jackasses, whether they be called politician or media deserve to be taken seriously.

Are you under some delusion that if only Jon Stewart started holding politician's feet to the fire that he could single-handedly change the whole system?

I don't blame you for being upset over what you've suddenly seen under the rock that Jon Stewart turned over, namely that there are huge numbers of people in America who have the ability to think critically and who hold you and politicians in equal contempt.

The question is what will you do with that knowledge?

Attack Jon Stewart's character or look at whether what he's saying has validity?

We're watching, and so far you don't seem to be changing too many people's opinions... though you are making us laugh (albeit with dark, bitter humor).

Anonymous said...

Jon's main point seems to be lost on many -- that Crossfire and the other "debate" and news shows merely proliferate warped, shallow, misleading views on the news rather than pursuing some sort of actual truth. "Holding feet to the fire" means requiring people to make sense, speak truth, deviate from party-line scripts.
It's not a hard point, but Carlson and Begala did not even begin to comprehend, and that is what worries me. They seem to think that truth, balance and fairness are the result of letting both "sides" spew their warped and finely honed lies.
The fact is, we need people in the position like those on Crossfire to have actual thoughts and standards -- not just to open the conduit and let the crap flow from both sides.
It's a simple point, and I wonder why it has been so hard for so many to grasp?