The Boston Globe ran a rather ridiculous op-ed today entitled “Why Jon Stewart isn’t funny”. The argument isn’t so much about Jon’s mirth-creating abilities, but rather the effect of “The Daily Show” on younger people who could become public servants.
Using a composite (a la Nick Sylvester), the writer describes a recent graduate, progressive and “Daily Show” viewer who goes into financial services rather than beginning their careers working for, I suppose, local or state government. The idea is that watching “The Daily Show” makes talented minds less likely to engage in our political process because they see it so full of idiots that they feel better than it.
Completely ludicrous. There’s all kinds of paths to political change, and, considering the amount of money required to win offices these days, working in financial services might make you in a better position to run for office than a career politico (see Bloomberg). There’s going to be no loss of brilliant minds to politics because of “The Daily Show.” The show is not responsible for making politics entertainment; it’s the 24-hour news channels which show flacks aiming their talking points at each other and then chuckling when the other gets a good one in. They’ve made it a game and “The Daily Show” points that out regularily and not from some ironic “aloofness”. The show sublimates the anger under it’s fake news persona, but it’s outraged at the level of spin and the lack of the truth from political leaders. Both it and “The Colbert Report” make viewers more engaged in politics simply by making it clear you’re not the only one who feels so frustrated by our current political system. Pointing out what’s broken doesn’t mean that nobody will want to fix it; it makes them want to fix it more.