Stewart 1, Carlson 0, The Public -243

Filed Under Late Night

I’m sure you’ve already heard about the huzzahs for Jon Stewart’s confrontational appearance on “Crossfire” (transcript, video). People were a little surprised to see a serious Stewart challenging the premise of Crossfire and particularly Tucker Carlson (whom Stewart attempts to even avoid facing, if you watch the video). But I think Stewart is sick of the idea that his show, a comedy show, is seen by many as the only oasis from spin.

Tucker Carlson attempted to make Stewart address his softball questions to John Kerry, but Stewart’s job isn’t to interrogate Presidental candidates. He’s a comedian and, sure, often a satirist, but the viewing public shouldn’t need him to do the job of the actual press. The media claims that they aim for objectivity but it’s obviously both parties have learned ways to work around that. The media has yet to adapt to these new realities. And that’s what Jon Stewart’s been screaming about for months.

As the media has been taking “The Daily Show” more seriously, it’s been missing the message of the show. It’s not that this is how people get their news. It where people gets the perspective that news used to provide. Satire only starts becoming a viable option for information when the media fails in its job. Demanding Jon Stewart ask harder questions of our elected officials shows how far our media has slipped. He’s not a newsman. He’s a comedian. Once the press stops trying to be entertainment, reporters and pundits won’t have to worry about entertainers doing their jobs better.

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Comments

Posted by Sofia Echegaray on 10/19  at  06:22 PM

People often point to the profit motive as driving all of this terrible news coverage; the old laws which stated that public airwaves were a public resource, to be used at least ocassionally for the common good…these have been watered down. Thirty years ago, no one expected their news department to be “profitable”—it was just a public service.

At least, that’s what reporters tell us when they wax nostalgic for the old days of Edward R. Murrow and See It Now. But perhaps news reporting was limited in its own way, back in the day.

Anyways, now that profit drives all programming decisions, and news must be entertaining, we’re left with this awful drivel masquerading as news. But how to undo it? How to divorce profit from the public’s need to know—especially in this age of ever-increasing media-consolidation driving ever-increasing focus on only the bottom line?

Satire definitely serves its purpose by piercing the veil and showing us how bad things are. But once we recover our outrage through humor—how do we move and take the next step?

..well anyway. That’s what I think about, when I’m home from work. :-)

Posted by jim on 10/23  at  06:35 AM

I loved Jon’s response to the softball question at (since he didn’t face him most of the time) Tucker when he said “This is CNN.  My show follows puppets making prank phone calls.”

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