Jun 19, 2011

Jon Stewart disappoints. Again!

I love Jon Stewart. Perhaps not as much as his offshoot/prodigy Colberrrr, but I love his wit, his comedy, and above all, his immense service in yelling that the emperor has no clothes.

But like his "Rally to restore sanity...", his recent interview with Chris Wallace on FOX "News" disappointed me.


To make a really long story only long--unless you want to sit through the entire 24 minutes and change--Stewart appeared on FOX News Sunday to answer charges. Charges that he was being unfair to FOX "News" by singling them out for overwhelming bias.
Stewart should have pleaded "Guilty and honest!" and dove-tailed out of there. Faster than Herman Cain would have out of a room containing three people suspected to be Muslims.

The charge that FOX "News" is "a biased organization, relentlessly promoting an ideological agenda under the rubric of being a news organization." is true, and needs no explanation, much less defense, if you only watched FOX "News" for a week.

OK, maybe the use of the word 'rubric' leaves a little to be desired, but this is not like The Fall. FOX "News" is such an outfit. Sure, not everything you see on FOX is dedicated to news, or to the Agenda of the Rubric, but every single one of their shows apart from Shep Smith, Bret Baier, and may be Chris Wallace on a bad day, it is all opinion all the time. Beck, Hannity, Fuckabee, O'Reilly, Greta (maybe the most guilty conscience on that opinion network) are talking points personified. Not to mention Gretchen Carlson (the one whose hair sometimes moves), and assorted wingnuts. Like Krauthammer, Dick Morris, Michelle Malkin or the venerable Karl Rove. I give Geraldo a pass, because he is a fucking idiot, and kinda comical.

Besides, I can't stay mad at the asshole for Al Capone's empty vaults, forever.

FOX "News" is neither fair, nor balanced. Which would not be so wrong, even if they were to call themselves both. I can grudgingly admire Ailes for his business acumen, and Murdoch, again for his business acumen. I'll take a shower and that'll be that.

I cannot admire FOX "News" for news. It is not news. It is propaganda.

But what about MSNBC, and "the MSM"? Well, what about them? Actually Stewart covered that part well, by answering
the bias of the mainstream media -- oh, I'm not saying it's defensible, but the bias of the mainstream media is toward sensationalism, conflict and laziness
There is bias, and there is rampant, over the top, not even a modest sense of balance, overt bias. The latter is FOX "News".

Even that is not a particularly sore issue for me. Bias is OK. Lying is not. Extreme hypocrisy is not. That needs to be challenged. As relentlessly as FOX "News" is accused of promoting an ideological agenda, by Stewart.

So what did Stewart do when Wallace showed him a clip of Diane Sawyer on the Arizona Immigration Bill?

DIANE SAWYER, "ABC WORLD NEWS": If a stranger walking down the street or riding the bus does not seem to be a U.S. citizen, is it all right for the police to stop and question him? Well, today, the governor of Arizona signed a law that requires police to do just that.
Which is a incorrect. Read the actual bill, and you'll find that the bill does not require you to do "just that".

Stewart's response?
Sure. Yes. No, I think you're right. I think we should have more full context and more of the types of things that you're talking about.
But I don't understand how that's purely a liberal or conservative bias. That's, like I said, sensationalist and somewhat lazy.
But I don't understand how that's partisan. The embarrassment is that I'm given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does.

Yeah OK, he defended The MSM.

Wait, he does not need to do that. You see, this is the common FOX "News" tactic. They point out that the MSM is in the gutter too, just like them, and therefore it is OK. In fact, it is worse, they say. If you do not respond as strongly to that as you do to their nonsense, then you are simply biased. Unfair, and without balance. You see, FOX "News" is MSM. Just look up what MSM means!

Stewart missed an opportunity. This is where he needed to point out how an omission of detail by Diane Sawyer in an intro, still pales in comparison to the numerous "death panel" accusations levied against the PPACA. That how NO ONE in the supposedly Counterweight section of the FOX "News" organization even commented on those blatant lies. Except perhaps as a Page 113 correction, months later, in tiny font.

Stewart's appearance lends credence to Wallace, and that is sad. Perhaps I should not be too hard on Jon Stewart, since he is a comedian, and strives hard to disrobe the already naked emperor, but maybe, just maybe, he should be funnier and restrain himself from issuing even the appearance of an apology:

I think that there is a -- probably a liberal bias that exists within the media that is because of the medium in which it exists. I think that the majority of people working in it probably hold liberal viewpoints, but I don't think that they are as relentlessly activist as the conservative movement that has risen up over the last 40 years.
And that movement has decided that they have been victims of a witch hunt. And to some extent they're right.
People on the right are called racists and they're called things with an ease that I am uncomfortable with -- and homophobic and all those other things. And I think that that is absolutely something that they have a real right to be angry about and to feel that they have been vilified for those things. And I've been guilty of doing some of those things myself.
Stewart's relentless satire on his show loses steam when he capitulates under the pretense of politeness on FOX "News". That, is to our detriment. It is great to see it on The Daily Show, it is a missed opportunity not to do so on FOX "News".

The PuffHo is disgusting for captioning the piece "YOU'RE INSANE", and Chris Wallace for half-jokingly, full-intentionally "accepting" Stewart's apology.

Having said that, I am not unsure that I would not do exactly what Stewart did, were I to be in his shoes. Less, perhaps.  Much less.


Roy Bauer said...

Did we watch the same video? I'm not a huge fan of Stewart, but I do think he's smart and his program generally does a good job pointing to absurdity and corruption--and doing it in a very amusing way. I think he has long been uncomfortable with his unwanted role as guru (or some such thing) to a generation, and that is to his credit.
I think he clearly bested Wallace. I'm not sure what the point of his appearance was supposed to be--aside from living up to his promise--but he did make Wallace and especially Fox News look pretty bad.
I won't go through a play by play, but he pretty much ended by pointing out forcefully that, among all audiences, no audience is more clueless than the Fox audience. This can hardly be contested.

Julie said...

What I find more interesting is that FOX is so obsessed by what Stewart has to say about them. So Wallace brings on Stewart to say that he is unfair in his commentary or his schtick about them. How can you in one breath say that Stewart should be more fair and balanced and at the same time mock the station where his show airs, Comedy Central. If Stewarts network is so ridiculous and your network should be deemed legitimate news why the fuck would you bother to interview Stewart of put any credence to what he says on his show?

Maybe because there is a lot of truth to what Stewart says and they realize that there are a lot of smart people paying attention to what Stewart has to say. Stewart for me, is the comic relief that I need to survive the depressing state of where our country is today.

Shripathi Kamath said...

Julie, you picked up on the essence. The fact that Stewart is on trial for being unfair or imbalanced on FOX "News" is itself a travesty. So when Wallace levies the charge, and the response is to *first* accept that the MSM is guilty too, but add very little in terms of stark counter-examples only serves to give instant credibility to Wallace.

This is what FOX does. They parade in Wallace, Baier, and Shepherd Smith as the voice(s) of reason.

There is no way you are going to change the minds of the large number of FOX "News" viewers. They are, as Stewart pointed out, the most misinformed.

But we already knew that.

The reticence or inability to provide counter-examples or attacking the ridiculous bias is what I found missing.

I am not blaming Stewart for not doing that so much as I found him not doing so disappointing.

Here's something that I'd wanted to see:

OK, Stewart is not Hitchens, but he could have been himself like he was on Crossfire

That was not disappointing.

Shripathi Kamath said...

..and almost on cue:

Julie said...

I think part of the problem is that Stewart winds up being more relevant than he may have intended to be. He is often quoted throughout the media when he rightly calls "bullshit" on something. He is not a baffoon pandering for laughs. He is saying all the things so many of us want to say but have no national voice.

And besides, I love him, I want to marry him.

oops, I hope he doesn't photograph his genitasl lest I become embroiled in a scandal.