There is No Truth

The problem with Jon Stewart's media criticism

Sometime in the course of writing his latest book, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz concluded that those involved in the network news business were united in envy—and veneration—of "fake news." In Reality Show, his gossipy dissection of the "last great television news war," Kurtz writes that "Everyone, even big-time anchors, wanted to be [The Daily Show host] Jon Stewart now, or at least do a reasonably good imitation." Before dismissing this a a throwaway line meant merely as a hat tip to the "fake news" host he clearly admires, consider that while promoting the book on his CNN show Reliable Sources, Kurtz reiterated the point, saying that "the biggest influence on the anchors these days" is Stewart.

As Kurtz points out, the nightly newscasts of NBC, ABC and CBS are suffering from diminishing influence and audiences, though they're still the media "megaphone" to beat, pulling in a combined 25 million viewers per night. Impressive, he notes, but significantly lower than the 35 million average of just ten years ago. Of course, the proliferation of DIY new media outlets—YouTube, blogs and podcasts—have cut deep into big media's market share and because of this, the networks have become the refuge of the older, less technically savvy news consumer—as demonstrated by the endless health-related stories—while not-so-secretly coveting the younger, hipper viewer. They want to engage this recalcitrant demographic without having to go slumming, without covering every minor tragedy that befalls Britney, every Malawian adopted by Madonna. Stewart manages to both keep it high-brow and keep the 20-35s watching.

But another seemingly contradictory theme dominates Reality Show. Get an anchor on the other side of the microphone, and they will inevitably tell you, perhaps in a circuitous way, that they crave respectability. The revolving cast of network anchors all fancy themselves Morrow-like newsmen who see celebrity-centric news as an affront to the profession. Brian Williams, Kurtz writes, hated reporting on "tabloid melodramas." Dan Rather too, who while at CBS refused to cover salacious stories that his competitors were flogging. Peter Jennings, a college dropout, "disdained certain stories that had mass appeal," specifically his network's coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. Bob Schieffer bristled at his network's weak attempt to draw in younger viewers; he "wanted to do Cronkite's show," Kurtz writes. Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff, the Barbie and Ken of ABC News, "saw themselves as reporters first and disdained what they called chitchat."

So the hyper-coiffed guardians of seriousness disdain fake news stories, but envy The Daily Show. This isn't a contradiction. Stewart isn't, as Kurtz's chapter title suggests, engaged in "fake news." That's what The Onion does. What Jon Stewart does is opinion filtered through clever jokes; ruthlessly effective—and often very funny—satire. In effect, Brian Williams and Co. desire to be freed of the constraints of objectivity, to be able to pounce on hypocritical politicians and pundits. Kurtz marvels that The Daily Show often "managed to do what the network newscasts had not, which was make the administration look ridiculous." (He also points out that NBC has used Daily Show clip compilations in its news broadcast.)

But besides skewering smarmy politicians for laughs, what is Stewart's journalistic philosophy? Indeed, the man who told Tucker Carlson that he needed to attend journalism school (without recognizing that the bow-tied conservative isn't that kind of journalist) has a lot to say about how the media should work. For all of his ducking and weaving, and his disingenuous claims that he's but a comic pretending to be a newsman, Stewart aggressively engages those with whom he disagrees, and frequently makes grandiloquent pronouncements about the intellectual atrophy that has befallen America's political and media classes. Stewart, the comedy media critic, says he shouldn't be taken seriously—until it's time to get serious.

In his now-notorious appearance on CNN's Crossfire, he admonished the "partisan hacks" (his phrase) Carlson and Paul Begala, pleading with them to "stop hurting America" and stop "helping the politicians and the corporations." "You have a responsibility," he said, "to the public discourse." In an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (whom Stewart doesn't consider a partisan hack, since there is much on which they agree), he grumbled that "The cornerstone of politics these days is grievance." The American "political industry is devoted to the electing and un-electing of officials, and that can be corrosive." When Hardball host Chris Matthews appeared on The Daily Show to flog his book, Stewart, to the glee of bloggers across the partisan divide, let him have it—though, as with the pronouncements above, it wasn't exactly clear what "it" was. Matthews book Life's a Campaign: What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success, he said, "strikes me as a self-hurt book, if you will."

What any of this means is anyone's guess. But Stewart's studio audience—who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz—and his network boosters love that he's sticking it to the chattering classes, no matter how incoherent the insult.

At the end of Reality Show, one is left thinking: If Stewart and his network anchor groupies are so concerned about the coarsening of American political debate, the easiest course of action would be to clean up their own shows by not inviting on "partisan hacks" like Chris Matthews. But, for all their bluster, they too are beholden to sinister corporations. And contrary to their endless complaining, America hardly suffers from a dearth of quality news sources.

Indeed, compared to Europe, this country is doing pretty well. It's almost tabloid newspaper free, with a bifurcated media that generally separates celebrity gossip and news into separate publications—although there are exceptions like the New York Post. In Britain, the three highest circulating daily newspapers (The News of the World, The Sun and The Daily Mail) are aggressively low-brow, a mix of top-heavy women and conjecture-heavy, populist reporting. The country's parliament, often praised as an honest, if overly raucous, chamber of debate from which America could learn, is Crossfire on steroids (and with even less honesty and more partisan hackery). The largest-selling paper on the continent is the ridiculous German daily Bild, a tabloid whose softcore front page make its British cousins seem downright priggish.

None of this matters, though. That America's media isn't sick; that Mr. Stewart's idealized media landscape is not only utopian, but undesirable to most news consumers; that the media most certainly does not have a "responsibility to the public discourse;" all of this is beside the point. For Stewart, it is important that both television and print media be made a sort of public trust that enlightens the people through advocacy journalism and exposing the forked tongues of smarmy politicians. (You might, at this point, have noticed that this type of ideological and investigative journalism already exists—in spades.)

As Kurtz writes in Reality Show, the comedian is "obsessed with the question of why journalists couldn't find ways to report the 'truth.'" But Stewart has a lot to learn about the news if he thinks there is one "truth" to be reported. And the networks have a lot to learn if they see The Daily Show as a model.

Michael Moynihan is an associate editor for reason.

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  • ||

    I've always thought of Stewart as more like a blogger...except that he has a tv network as his distribution medium. He's a journalist like Morton Downey was a journalist...except Stewart is much funnier. Most serious journalists don't seem to be very funny...at least not intentionally.

  • ||

    Stewart's studio audience... would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz...

    I don't feel strongly either way about Stewart, but I'm pretty sure this statement is far over the top.

    For my money, Colbert's much funnier.

  • ||

    But Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz

    Fuck you, Moynihan. That's grossly uncalled-for.

  • ||

    According to this study by the Pew Research Center For the People and the Press, Daily Show and Colbert Report viewers are the most knowledgable about current affairs.

    Check out the section titled "Which Audiences Know the Most?"

  • ||

    That's grossly uncalled-for.

    What, in a story about Jon Stewart (of all people!) you're not allowed to go over the top?

  • Episiarch||

    Fuck you, Moynihan. That's grossly uncalled-for.

    MM might be a bit over the top, but there is validity to the fact that Stewart's audience is a pack of mouth-breathing sycophantic cheer-bots. I've seen him suprised at the things they will cheer unflinchingly for.

    Colbert is far, far funnier and much more sophisticated than Stewart. He is also unbelievably quick on his feet (metaphorically) when doing interviews. The fact that often his guests, audience, and viewers aren't sure if he is serious/sarcastic/doing satire/doing parody at all times is proof of his mad skillz.

    And he was, of course, Chuck Noblet.

  • ||

    """For all of his ducking and weaving, and his disingenuous claims that he's but a comic pretending to be a newsman"""

    1. He is a comic.
    2. TV shows that offer commentary and interviews are not news no matter how much the 24 hour news networks try to convice you. It's a talk show, not news. It's filler, there is not enough news to fill up 24 hours of TV time so they can to come up with something.

  • Hayekian Dreamer||

    I'm disappointed. Very Disappointed. Not in the article in particular, but in the lack of coverage of Colbert's announcement he is running for president in south carolina.

  • ||

    It's filler, there is not enough news to fill up 24 hours of TV time so they can to come up with something.

    How about "there is not enough news that the average viewer will watch, or care about, to fill up 24 hours of TV time so they can to come up with something."

    It's a big world out there.

  • ||

    Journalists admire/envy Stewart because he gets paid "real money" to be a Harvard wiseguy. He gets paid millions to express all the contempt they feel, but must conceal, for the right wing, not to mention Hillary Clinton and Teddy Kennedy. Stewart doesn't have to compromise because he's playing to a small, elite audience. A conservative talking head with Stewart's numbers would be almost invisible. But because he's a liberal with elitist snark ("I believe in equality, as long as I get the limo"), he's a hero.

  • ||

    I thought this was over the top, but there is a kernel of truth to the claim that Stewart uses 'I'm just a comedian' as a back door exit. There is an unfair element to the way he operates sometimes. He goes in blazing then ducks under his role as a comedian.

    It is unfortunate, because a lot of times he has something to say.

  • ||

    But Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.


    I join Joe's sentiment. Jon's audience is probably smarter than most as satire requires some sort of intelligence to get the joke. My experience is that there is an inverse correlation between intelligence and anti-semitism. If Jon spouted off something like this, most of us would be confused wondering where the joke is.
    But if anyone could make the holocaust funny, it would be Jon.

    Jon isn't a journalist and he doesn't hold public office. So I could give a fuck regarding the consistency of his opinion regarding the vapidity of modern journalism. All I care is that he makes me laugh. If I want to learn the facts regarding any issue of interest of mine, I will research it rather than use Jon as some sort of source regarding my public policy preferences.

    The very fact that we are having this discussion, I think, shows the failure of modern journalism to police politicians to secure the knowledge that what they are doing is in our best interest.

  • ||

    joe,
    Insightful as always..but can you just relax? And yes, it was over the top...just lame joke about his sycophantic audience members. I suppose I should have said "denied the Armenian genocide." That seems to be popular these days.

    mm

  • ||

    Troy,
    It wasn't a joke about the Holocaust. It was a joke directed at his studio audience.

  • ||

    Maybe I missed something, but noting that Jon Stewart's prescriptions for mainstream television journalism are not much more rational and workable than Dan Rather's seems like a painfully faint criticism. Next thing, Moynihan will be telling me that Bono doesn't know how to fix Africa.

    Was there supposed to be something in there critical of Stewart's contribution to contemporary political discourse?

    My reaction wasn't as strong as joe's but the Godwin violation was a shot in Moynihan's foot.

  • ||

    Parody and satire are sometimes a lot more truthful than reality. I don't view the Daily Show as a parody of the news but rather a parody of how ridiculous 24x7 "news" channels can be.

    And Colbert is just amazing! He is probably one of the most talented satirists ever. The fact that neocons don't get it yet just cracks me up.

  • ||

    Michael Moynihan,

    You would have been on safer ground making that crack about Randians it seems.

  • ||

    Rimfax,
    The point is that many, many mainstream pundits take Stewart seriously. Just poke around Nexis a bit. Hell, just look at the reaction to his Crossfire appearance, or his inclusion in Kurtz's new book. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

  • Episiarch||

    Jon's audience is probably smarter than most as satire requires some sort of intelligence to get the joke.

    Riiiiight. His (studio) audience often fails to get the joke, and this is sometimes painfully clear by the timing of their cheering or the fact that they are cheering at all.

    I've give Stewart credit for realizing that his audience is basically a chimp cheering squad, as evidenced by his reactions to some of their applause.

  • Joe-Dokes||

    TrickyVic,

    I beg to differ. One of the key problems with news and the primary reason that they are losing viewers is that they are married to the bullshit myth that news can be reported objectively.

    This is why Stewert is so admired. He able to show George without his clothes because he is not afraid of occasionally commenting on the convoluted and asisnine logic used by politicians to support their idiotic positions. Thus, Stewart, after playing a clip will turn to the camera and say "WAHHHHT?" The National News would be a lot better if they would occasionally call politicians on BOTH sides of the isle on their stupidity.

    Because the news media holds onto the twin myths of balance and objectivity they simply report what the person said and give NO analysis about how stupid or utter lacking in logic it might have. By not commenting on the stupidity they in effect endorse and support the stupidity.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

  • VM||

    MM -

    change the analogy: telling a Swedish Audience that King Christian II was "good", and they'd laugh :)

  • Episiarch||

    Just to be clear: I am only referring to the studio audience. That should be clear as theirs is the only applause that we can hear, but I just want to be sure.

  • ||

    Michael Moynihan,

    If you wanted to suggest that they'd cheer any nonsense that he spouted, you should have used a nonsense example. Your example appeared to argue that his audience is so in his thrall that they would cheer, with sincerity, any offensiveness that he spouted. That's a pretty strong insult. If you were arguing that they'd have cheered it on the assumption that there was a joke in it somewhere, you really should have made that distinction clear.

    That's why I thought that that paragraph worked against you.

  • JBinMO||

    "But Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz"

    I was there for that episode, we clapped till our hands bled and streamed our throats raw.

  • ||

    Stewarts audience can get pretty obnoxious, but Bill Maher's audience takes the cake.

  • Ryo||

    I think that Holocaust "joke" was a bit lame too. Still, I get the point and agree with it, the studio audience is the worst thing about the Daily Show. Especially during the interviews.

  • ||

    Michael Moynihan,

    I appreciate your point that the pundits take him seriously for bad reasons. I just don't understand why it is terribly valuable to point out that he doesn't understand their business any better than they do.

    I must admit that I had a bit of expectation shear in that I expected to read how he was being a lousy journalist (even a comic one). Instead, it was about how he would be a lousy news show producer. Maybe it was the H&R blurb for your article.

  • ||

    The joke and joe's overreaction are both ponderous, fucking ponderous.

  • ||

    ... why you're wrong.

    Because he's not a journalist and he's only middling honest?

  • Paul||

    Next thing, Moynihan will be telling me that Bono doesn't know how to fix Africa.

    I'm not sure what to say about this. Does a guy who's in a band and wears blue glasses know how to fix... for fuck's sake "Africa"? We're talking about a fucking continent of vast diversity. Maybe there's a joke here I didn't get...

  • The Extispicator||

    Hy-per-bol-e

    Look it up, people. It's supposed to be over-the-top. By definition.

  • Edward||

    If Jon Stewart were flogging the libertarian line and constantly interviewing the cloyingly sincere and simplitstic Ron Paul, Moynihan would be calling him the only honest journalist.

  • Episiarch||

    Edward, you had your heart broken by a libertarian girl, didn't you.

  • Paul||

    Oh, and everyone still confused by Stewart's role, and why it's perceived the way it is, (re)read Allan Vanneman's 4:48 comment. It sums up the entire theme brilliantly.

  • The Extispicator||

    To me the true test of a satirist comedian is if you can disagree with them but still find them funny. Stewart's schtick gets old to me pretty quickly, but I could watch Colbert all day.

  • Paul||

    To me the true test of a satirist comedian is if you can disagree with them but still find them funny.

    Agreed. I think Jon Stewart is great. But the wackjobs who claim he's "middle of the road" are-- shall we say-- confused.

  • TribePride||

    Journalists admire/envy Stewart because he gets paid "real money" to be a Harvard wiseguy.

    Not sure if you mean that Jon Stewart went to Harvard, but just to be a pedant who's proud of her alma mater, I have to point out that he's a William and Mary grad.

  • Fluffy||

    "In effect, Brian Williams and Co. desire to be freed of the constraints of objectivity, to be able to pounce on hypocritical politicians and pundits."

    Actually, the entire problem with modern journalism is that it fails to recognize that not only does objectivity free you to pounce on hypocrisy, it actually demands that you do so.

    In my dictionary, to be "objective" is to be bound by the facts alone, as near as one can determine them, eschewing every other interest. Modern journalism isn't seeking to be objective, it's seeking to be even-handed, and by definition that makes it impossible to be objective.

    An objective news reporter would crucify a public figure that uttered a falsehood. An even-handed news reporter would dutifully report the false claim without any comment other than allowing the opposition party their own quote. Since the even-handed reporter is allowing a consideration other than the facts to control his reporting [the consideration of an ersatz "fairness"] he is not being objective; he's casting objectivity to the wind and hoping the reader or viewer can figure it out.

  • ||

    If Jon Stewart were flogging the libertarian line and constantly interviewing the cloyingly sincere and simplitstic Ron Paul, Moynihan would be calling him the only honest journalist.

    I doubt it. The neocon Moynihan likely hates Ron Paul -- maybe you two could bond over it.

  • TLB||

    Thankfully, I've only seen the show in various clips, one of which I discuss here.

    Obviously, it's good that he got at least the "U" out there, but perhaps he should have finished the word and perhaps he should have tried to trick his guest into revealing more about the plot.

    If he'd done that, he would have both made news and done a great public service. Of course, he might be out of a job the next day, so I can see why he didn't press the matter.

  • Edward||

    Episiarch

    My god! How perceptive! Yes, she led me on by promising to explain how slavery in the U.S. was really a government project, and then one day she up and left me for a 9/11 Truther.

  • Edward||

    Moynihan is a neo-con?? I guess I should read this stuff more carefully.

  • Episiarch||

    I guess I should read this stuff more carefully.

    How can you read it if you've stopped coming to the site?

  • ||

    Today must be Panties in a Bunch Day here at H&R.

  • Edward||

    Episiarch

    I was just on a trip to look at some investment properties in the Cayman Islands, Beautiful place.

  • JMP||

    Michael, it seems to me that you're unfairly conflating Stewart's various media critiques. His stock-in-trade is ridiculing American TV news for adopting the same practices you find lamentable in European print media: sensationalism, a failure to bifurcate entertainment gossip from hard news, and a gradually diminishing commitment (or even aspiration) to accuracy and objectivity.

    He has also criticized punditry, though you must admit this is a somewhat separate effort. The recent Mathews appearance notwithstanding, he generally bashes pundits outside the context of the 30-minute program itself. And for good reason: it's generally less funny to joke about Tucker Carlson, Paul Begala, et al. They're self-parodying. And in any event, where is the logic in blaming Stewart for being an insufficiently serious newsman to critique pundits, when your justification for their legitimacy is that they aren't "that kind of journalist"? It hardly seems that Carlson should be more entitled to a pass on accuracy and objectivity by virtue of being on a real news network instead of a comedy program.

    As for Stewart's bias, what of it? He's funny enough to appeal to a lifelong Republican (ahem), and if he is unwilling to skewer the Left with equal vigor, then his humor and influence will no doubt wane when his preferred target is no longer in the White House.

    As to the Auschwitz remark, I took offense, but it was just a bad joke. I'll give you a mulligan. They can't all be winners.

  • Anoymous Coward||

    Fuck you, Moynihan. That's grossly uncalled-for.

    Self-righteous indignation has a well-known liberal bias.

  • ||

    "An objective news reporter would crucify a public figure that uttered a falsehood. An even-handed news reporter would dutifully report the false claim without any comment other than allowing the opposition party their own quote."
    Hear, hear, fluffy, I totally agree.

    "Colbert is far, far funnier and much more sophisticated than Stewart." And another hear hear to Episiarch. Colbert is a genuis, jon just mugs and laughs at his own jokes. Strangers with Candy was DA BOMB.

    Here Moynihan trots out his usual "here is a famous liberal I hate" post. Sometimes I wonder if he got hired for balance because folks thought Weigel was a liberal shill. Stewart is taken seriously because he puts up big numbers and commands an impressive list of guests. And, he also takes much more pains (as does Colbert) to have the kind of guests you would normally see only on BookTV on C-Span.

    I would also argue that arguing that we have less tabloid circulation thatn country X hardly demonstrates the high quality of our news media...

  • ||

    "An objective news reporter would crucify a public figure that uttered a falsehood. An even-handed news reporter would dutifully report the false claim without any comment other than allowing the opposition party their own quote."
    Hey, I hear interviewers do this on BBC quite a bit.
    Interviewers here are partly afraid to try this because the Right has this highly coordinated "liberal bias" spasm thing they go into. Journalists lean left (as most intellectuals do, creationism and jingoism plays poorly with folks who read), but most do care about being balanced. Conservatives don't care a whit about balance, look at FoxNews. They are Waaaaay more tilted than CBS ever was or could be...

  • Chavez is a thug||

    "Fuck you, Moynihan. That's grossly uncalled-for."

    Spare us the faux indignation asshole. Don't you have an oppressive dictator to apologize for somewhere.

  • Bingo||

    Maybe if he did something other than "staring into the camera and smirking while reading headlines" he would be worth watching.

  • ||

    http://www.slate.com/id/2086691/

    Can you imagine Dan Rather becoming Hillary Clinton's press secretary?

  • Les||

    In an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (whom Stewart doesn't consider a partisan hack, since there is much on which they agree)...

    Dowd isn't a partisan hack. She may be insane and unreadable, but she isn't a partisan.

    While I agree about TDS's audience, it's absolutely inane to suggest that Stewart isn't just a comic, simply because he has opinions which he doesn't always phrase in the form of a joke. Of course he's a comic. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be famous. People tune in to TDS because sometimes they say funny things. Just because Stewart has inconsistent opinions and gives "serious" interviews and makes jokes you don't like doesn't mean he's still not a comic. That would disqualify a lot of famous comics.

    Even the example of him criticizing Matthews' execrable new book was silly, because he did so with lots of jokes. Like what a comedian would do.

    I guess I just don't understand the point of the essay.

  • Goldthwait||

    JMP states:
    "His stock-in-trade is ridiculing American TV news for adopting the same practices you find lamentable in European print media: sensationalism, a failure to bifurcate entertainment gossip from hard news, and a gradually diminishing commitment (or even aspiration) to accuracy and objectivity"

    Anybody that can seriously claim, without a hint of sarcasm, that Jon Stewart is ridiculing a lack of objectivity in news media either does not watch his show or is a total idiot.

  • Bingo||

    Here's a transcript from the Daily Show.
    Stewart: *reads headline*
    Stewart: *smirks*
    Audience: *explodes into applause and laughter*
    Repeat times an hour or half hour or however long that shit lasts

  • ||

    Let's all remember how Jon Stewart came to occupy the position he does in American discourse. When the mainstream media was completely ignoring all the lies Bush and company were telling us, Stewart was the only one directly pointing out all the deceptions and the distractions being put between us and the truth. This was his position too when Clinton was president - but Clinton didn't take us into a giant war on a false pretext. Stewart suddenly became the equivilant of an Edward R. Murrow, suddenly was anointed as a courageous newsman, because only A COMEDY SHOW got to tell the truth. Because of that, it's become way more than a comedy show because of the weight that's been attached to it - by VIEWERS, not by itself - and, yes, it's not as funny as it used to be. But this is all more of a comment on America and the media rather than the show itself.

  • S.A. Miller||

    Stewart is a hack in his own right.

    When a Democrat is elected President, with a Dem majority House and Senate as it looks most likely, he won't be so funny anymore.

  • Goldthwait||

    "Can you imagine Dan Rather becoming Hillary Clinton's press secretary?"

    Evidently, George Stephanopoulus is a name of which you are ignorant.
    And Mr. Nice Guy please spare us the bullshit about how the media is not really liberal. Survey after survey has demonstrated that 90% of those involved with network news vote Democrat; and the notion that those on the left are more intellectual is, for lack of a better word, retarded. If you are any indication of how brilliant the left is supposed to be, I would say the opposite of your assertion is true.
    Furthermore, your comparison of Fox to CBS is ridiculous as well. A huge majority of the shows on Fox are opinion shows and are presented as such. I don't seem to recall a similar situation with CBS "News". I also don't recall Fox News presenting obviously false documents to the public in a transparent attempt at swaying a national election.

  • ||

    What about the media environment these different versions of the news (or "truth") take place. Murrow and Cronkite could separate their presentations from tabloid, chit-chat or low-brow shows and that gave their voices a more authoritative presence that people believed was honest. Today's anchors and reporters who are the heirs to that old-school journalism don't have that luxury. They're bothered that the constant, static drone of celebrity worship and junk news are drowning out their serious reporting. Stewart and Colbert don't care and even seem to welcome it.

    With today's infotainment and its blend of news, talk, comedy and satire it may be more difficult to decipher what the truth really is. But hasn't it always been up to the individual to filter out the nonsense from the news and the junk from the jokes? The Evening News and its limited scope in the 1950's and 60's didn't give anything close to a complete account of events. Today, the article we're commenting on had hyperlinks to 8 other articles and was sandwiched between two columns of advertisements featuring images of Drew Carey, Bill O'Reilly, Al Gore and the Reason Conservative girl all selling news and telling views about the "truth."

  • Goldthwait||

    "When the mainstream media was completely ignoring all the lies Bush and company were telling us, Stewart was the only one directly pointing out all the deceptions and the distractions being put between us and the truth"

    Give me a friggin' break. It is amazing how similar the arguments of Stewart's supporters are to each other. I don't know from which bizzaro world you hail, but to put forth the notion that the news media never questioned Bush's justification for war is total, unmitigated bullshit, almost as stupid as the assertion that the news media (excepting one whole station), and Stewart himself, are not unapologetically liberal. For God's sake, the man endorsed Kerry on air. And we are supposed to be admiring him as a paragon of objectivity?

  • ||

    Jon Stewart is a national treasure. And It is certainly difficult to see somebody as funny, talented and insightful if you fundamentally disagree with them. It raises the uncomfortable possibility that you are wrong about everything all the time.

  • ||

    It will just be interesting to see what will happen to Stewart if we have a Democratic President. Then we will know if he really is going after everybody, or if hes a Team Blue shill.

  • Goldthwait||

    "- and, yes, it's not as funny as it used to be. But this is all more of a comment on America and the media rather than the show itself."

    The jokes become tired, stale and unfunny and that is somehow an indictment of the American public and not Stewart (actually his writers)? You are trying way too hard. You really should remove your lips from Stewart's ass.

  • Goldthwait||

    "Jon Stewart is a national treasure. And It is certainly difficult to see somebody as funny, talented and insightful if you fundamentally disagree with them. It raises the uncomfortable possibility that you are wrong about everything all the time."

    So does this mean that Stewart is right all the time? I guess you just settled the argument as to whether Stewart's audience is a bunch of ass kissers; evidently they now believe he is an omnipotent Messiah. Stewart is neither funny, talented or insightful. He is boring and unfunny and his insight is of the same variety as Bill Maher's: reciting the same old liberal platitudes over and over. But you have settled one debate for us. Stewart's audience is indeed the most obnoxious part of the show.

  • Goldthwait||

    "It will just be interesting to see what will happen to Stewart if we have a Democratic President. Then we will know if he really is going after everybody, or if hes a Team Blue shill."

    People who make the claim that Stewart will go after a Democratic administration are as believable as the morons who claims Keith Olbermann would attack a Democrat in the same way he does the Republican party.

  • ||

    Hasn't anyone here ever been in a studio audience? You're coached and led, told when to laugh, and in some shows if you don't laugh you get the boot. You're basically there to create their laugh track. Also, the kind of people in the audience probably aren't very representative of the core demographic. I'd guess they tape the show during the day, which is when most intelligent folks are busy trying to pay the mortgage.

  • iih||

    In his now-notorious appearance on CNN's Crossfire, he admonished the "partisan hacks" (his phrase) Carlson and Paul Begala, pleading with them to "stop hurting America" and stop "helping the politicians and the corporations." "You have a responsibility," he said, "to the public discourse."

    Stewart was absolutely right in everything he said on Crossfire.Michael, you too can benefit from his advice.Why do we always have to be partisan? Can't we be honest in our assessment of reality?

  • ||

    yeah, I went to a taping of the Colbert Report - surprise, there's an Applause sign! I'm sure it's the same at The Daily Show. And most tapings are full of college kids and tourists who are super-excited to have a chance of the camera falling on them. It's not like he has an in-house crew as the audience.

  • ||

    It wan't the kernal of truth I had a problem with.

    Don't tell me to relax, asshole. You were wrong, don't lecture me.

  • iih||

    jasno:

    And for goodness sake, the audience (can we assume it to be mostly if not 100% liberal) cheered for every right wing and non-liberal nut that Stewart invites (e.g., Lynne Cheney, Kristol, Bush apologetics, Musharaf), that doesn't mean they approve!

  • ||

    Maher was actually a lot better and less partisan when Clinton was President. The last six years have turned just about everybody into an asshole.

  • stephen the goldberger||

    in response to Joe's reaction, nothing offends liberals like accusations of

    1. Not being sophisticated
    2. Not being sympathetic to prejudice.

  • iih||

    joe:

    Michael's criticism of Stewart is because he (Moynihan) too feels threatened by Stewart.

  • ||

    Am I the only one in the world who thinks that Jon Stewart is just not funny? He's a smart ass. That's all. He's as overrated as Bill Mahr. Objective? Bullshit. Insightful? Bullshit. A paradigm of journalism? Huge bullshit. I fail to understand why he's so popular.

  • Goldthwait||

    "I think that Holocaust "joke" was a bit lame too. Still, I get the point and agree with it, the studio audience is the worst thing about the Daily Show."

    Actually the worst thing about the show is Lewis Black. That guy is so painfully unfunny he makes a hack like Patton Oswalt look like Lenny Bruce. Any comedian that describes himself as a socialist and then has the nerve to criticize someone else's politics is, to put it mildly, an ass. And Black epitomizes everything wrong with the show. The entire affair has the whole "preaching to the choir" mentality that makes it no more insightful or poignant than Rosie O'Donnell. At least she is unintentionally funny, which is more humorous than anything that occurs on Stewart's show. That is why it is so pathetic and painful, yet absolutely hilarious that his defenders act like he is such an iconoclast and they are so much more brilliant than everyone else because they get the joke, while us average schlubs are just scratching our heads, unable to ponder the genius that is Jon Stewart. How else to explain bullshit like this: "Jon's audience is probably smarter than most as satire requires some sort of intelligence to get the joke" or "Jon Stewart is a national treasure. And It is certainly difficult to see somebody as funny, talented and insightful if you fundamentally disagree with them..." Believe me, we get the joke, it just wasn't funny.

  • Chavez is a thug||

    "Don't tell me to relax, asshole. You were wrong, don't lecture me."

    Man are you an idiot. I will stop "lecturing"( although a couple of sentences is hardly a lecture, but you do tend to be a melodramatic primadonna) you when you stop trying to act like you are outraged by an obvious joke, you over-reacting pussy.

  • Bubba Zanetti||

    Moynihan,

    Your overall point is unerringly correct: Stewart wants the news environment of 15+ years ago, where "serious" journalists fed us information and there was no competition. Like, to take one example from a pool of thousands, Reason's crack reporting about the bullshit MSM coverage of the "widespread violence" in post Katrina New Orleans.

    So fuck you: For apologizing to joe.

  • ||

    Great article.

    During the Crossfire moment, Stewart said that he didn't "go after" Kerry when he was on his show, because he's just a comedian/the show on before his is Crank Yankers/blah blah blah

    If you want to be be buddies with politicians when they come on your show, cool.

    If you want to make them look like idiots, that's also cool.

    But pick one identity (satirist or comedian) and stick with it. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

  • ||

    dude Lewis Black is hilarious.

  • ||

    I think Jon Stewart would have trouble being as funny going after a Democratic White House and an even more Democratic congress because of his liberal views -- for example, he couldn't afford to be too outraged against politicians proposing the draft because he's effing FOR it, and so is his audience, (who would BE the draftees but can't quite connect the dots). Stewart did, however, recently call the Democratic congress "pussies", so he isn't completely a Team Blue shill.

    Colbert, who appears to be just as liberal underneath the fake conversative pundit veneer, however, is able to skewer liberal stupidity via ramping up the bombastic punditry -- and still not lose his liberal audience in the process because he'd have plausible deniability due to the pundit persona.

    I usually enjoy both shows despite the liberal skew, but had to skip through the recent episodes where they were both blatant shills for Big SCHIP.

  • Chavez is a thug||

    "joe,
    Insightful as always..."

    You are so pathetic, you have become a running joke on the site. Congratulations.

  • Buck Pithy Bang Bang||

    Listen . . . Stewart, like rush limbaugh, is first and foremost an entertainer. These are entertainers with obvious political slants. Big media types always envy those whose jobs enable them to mouth off against and crack jokes about the powerful people in this country. Being a comedian, entertainer, or talk-show host means being able to convey truths that the strait-jacketed MM cannot. So, why are people so upset about this? I would argue that Lenny Bruce did more for truth in this country than any politician has ever done. Isn't that freakin OBVIOUS to you people?

  • ||

    Conflating Stewart's level of seriousness when he does his monologue, his interviews, and his appearance as a media critic on Crossfire was weak.

    thug, I wasn't talking to you. You can tell I'm talking to you, when I address you. Now go troll elsewhere.

  • iih||

    dude Lewis Black is hilarious.

    ditto. So is John Oliver.

  • ||

    Heh heh heh.

    Somebody's still smarting from all the whoopings I've given him.

    I'm talking to you, thug. You know what's funny? I don't ever bring you up, and yet you can't read this site without getting in a lather about me.

    Why do you think that is?

  • ||

    Goldwait-keep trying my friend.
    "Survey after survey has demonstrated that 90% of those involved with network news vote Democrat"
    Of course if you read my post I SAID "Journalists lean left (as most intellectuals do, creationism and jingoism plays poorly with folks who read), but most do care about being balanced." So yes, surveys show that journalist tend to be Dems. Most of the knowledge class is (artists, writers, academics, etc.). But journalists are actually trained and educated to try to overcome their bias and be objective as possible.

    "Evidently, George Stephanopoulus is a name of which you are ignorant." Actually, I hoped some dumbass would fall into this with GS. He was hired to be on an OPINION show, Tony Snow did Weekend Live which purported to be a news show. And of course there are numerous examples of people who worked as politicians and THEN went into news analysis (Begalia, Buchanan, etc.). But career journalists don't often make this move because it is contrary to what their profession stands for and is. That's why it's so hard to see Dan Rather becoming anyone's press secretary.


    Well, don't mind the non-generalizable examples such as the intellectual pygmies the GOP chooses for the Presidential candidates (Reagan was an admited C student at Eureka and Bush did not set the academic world on fire) compared to the Dems (Clinton was quite scholarly accomplished). It's a well established fact that party affiliation and ideology is correlated with educational attainment. Do you doubt it? Cuz I could show ya...C'mon, I'd like to!
    "A huge majority of the shows on Fox are opinion shows and are presented as such. I don't seem to recall a similar situation with CBS "News". " Hey you're right here, for all the wrong reasons. Of course you don't see that on CBS, they are trained journalists who try to report what happens in the world, not propagandists. In fact, it really is unthinkable to have such commentary on CBS news isn't it? That actually proves my point if you would concentrate long enough to see it..

  • ||

    When people in the media, and those who repeat their talking points, deny the possibility that someone can set aside their personal opinions and do their job in a fair, objective, and professional manner, it's worth keeping that opinion in mind.

    Of course no one can be completely objective, but you can try, and do a pretty good job. When people claim otherwise, claim that there is no possibility of being unbiased, they are just announcing their own lack of interest in even trying to do anything but spout a party line.

  • iih||

    I wonder what Moynihan thinks of Colbert? Michael, have you seen Colbert's interview with Hirsi Ali. He poked fun at her hypocrisy, so may be he too is like Stewart -- not honest.

  • ||

    Oh, what can I do, I'm impulsive ;). Here's a quick reference to the correlation I spoke of.
    http://www.collegenews.org/x2782.xml
    and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_ideologies_in_the_United_States

  • ||

    The Daily Show is generally well-written and funny, but Stewert himself is not very interesting. The interview segment is usually not worth watching (the Chris Mathews interview was a rare exception since Stewert broke with his usual awkward fawning style).

    The Colbert Report is better overall thanks to Colbert's interview skills (and better guests - fewer dull celebrities).

  • ||

    "When a Democrat is elected President, with a Dem majority House and Senate as it looks most likely, he won't be so funny anymore."

    For all the people who don't believe TDS would skewer a Democratic president, go back and watch the episodes from the Clinton years. For that matter, watch *any* election segment from the 2000 election on - about 50% of the jokes are about the Democrats' inability to come up with a coherent message or a decent candidate.

    Does the show lean left? Yes. But they aren't pulling any punches when there's a chance to be funny, regardless of the politics of the target.

    As for the audience (which *clearly* skews left), Stewart makes a solid effort to keep interviews restrained and even-handed (sometimes chastening his audience for booing or being unruly), even when he clearly disagrees with the interviewee. That's more than you'll get on most shows.

  • ||

    Lewis Black is funny as hell. I don't really give a shit if he is pretty much a European Social Democrat in his political views.

    And Colbert is a lot better than Jon Stewart.

  • ||

    Screw you joe.

  • iih||

    John Oliver, while I do not see him as having his own show, is hilarious. So is the Canadian Jason Jones. That does not make me a socialist either. Can't people appreciate comedy without putting a political spin to it?

  • ||

    People, of course Stewart won't be as funny with anyone other than Bush in office, because Bush is both an imbecile and a fucking disaster. Have you been paying attention? Show a clip of Bush making his idiotic statement of the day, then make a funny face, and the audience will laugh. It's therapeutic, and keeps me from crying... daily.

    I happen to think Stewart is more than that, but really, Bush writes 50% of his material for him.

  • ||

    Ha, ha, ha. joe is really mad as hell after I told him off. Man that was one whipping he will never forget.

  • ||

    People always said Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing punditocracy couldn't survive without a Democratic President, and they turned out to be wrong.

    I think Stewart and Colbert will do just fine even with a Democratic President.

  • ||

    Eric,

    I don't remember you. Which thread did we debate on?

    Were you posting under another name?

  • ||

    On a related note, does anyone else see a big, big difference between disagreeing with Bush's policies and Bush Hate®? I dislike the man's politics but I get really sick of the latter from lefties.

  • ||

    But you did just pretty effectively out yourself as "Chavez is a thug."

    I don't understand people who post under fake names. I really don't.

  • ||

    John Oliver, while I do not see him as having his own show, is hilarious. So is the Canadian Jason Jones.

    Oliver is good, but Aasif Mandvi is the best of the current bunch.

    "I'm from India. I'm tech support / cardiologist brown. Not dishwasher / parking attendant brown."

  • iih||

    Cesar: I'd be more worried about the recent Paul Hate. See recent HuffPost article on the "support" Paul is getting from white supremacists.

  • ||

    I have never posted with any other name. My e-mail address is there along with my real name for all to see. Unlike you and most other people.

  • iih||

    Mandvi always seemed awkward to me. Not as natural as Oliver is.

  • iih||

    "I'm from India. I'm tech support / cardiologist brown. Not dishwasher / parking attendant brown."

    Yes that was funny. He sometimes has his good moments.

  • ||

    I'm talking to you, thug. You know what's funny? I don't ever bring you up

    A little irony-deficient today, joe?

  • ||

    I basically like Stewart, but find him hard to watch since he veered off into leftist territory. Has anyone seen the show where he had Bolivian president Evo Morales on, and had the audience cheering about Morales' swift nationalization of industry?

  • ||

    At least Morales is right about the drug war.

  • ||

    Hello, I Eric Atkinson. My hobby is making snarky comments to the local donk blowhard, here at Hit and Run. I was banned one fow two week for using much milder language than joe usually does.
    I am an athest, I "believe" in evolution, and think that "global whining" is over blown.
    I also can't spell for shit.
    Thank you very much.

  • ||

    Let me inject some nuance for the brighter posters here.
    Of course I think that all in all, journalists have more leftist bias than rightist bias in their reporting, since most are leftists at heart. I do think, however, that this is largely offset by the professional standards common to journalists. Most really want to present an objective look. I also think that, unlike conservative media, there is not near the amount of coordination (keeping "on message" and making sure that message is what the GOP wants heard).

    Also, I think that while it is a fact that more people who live life as intelluctuals are liberal, I am not arguing that there is not an intellectual conservative philosophy or tradition. It's just that ever since Agnew I guess the GOP has consciously attacked "intellectuals" and courted groups like evangelicals that make intellectuals uncomfortable.

  • ||

    But I may be biased cuz I think Sammantha Bee is smoking (in a Tina Fey kind of way). And the blonde gal on Fox in the Mornings is such a mannequin looking dimwit

  • iih||

    MNG: Sam Bee-- no way. Funny, yes. Smoking, nope.

  • Les||

    I think anyone who says the news media are liberal or conservative has hit themselves in the head with their jerking knee too many times to realize that what the media are, first and foremost, is profit-oriented (not that there's anything wrong with that).

    They will report whatever they think will attract eyeballs to their advertisements. And they will be as sensational as they think they need to be to get those eyeballs. Sometimes people want to hate Democrats and sometimes they want to hate Republicans and the news media will be there to give them what they want.

    To those of you who think TDS doesn't go after Dems, try to find clips of their convention coverage. They ripped on both parties equally, because both parties are hilariously pathetic in their own special ways.

  • ||

    prolefeed,

    He addressed me and I responded. My irony's just fine, thanks. He started one of his little joe-fests, and I called him on it.

    Eric,

    I enter my email on every comments I post. That little red thingy at the top - roll your mouse over it. Real email, too.

    Also, your email address looks like "Eat Kinson." Which is mildly funny.

  • iih||

    They will report whatever they think will attract eyeballs to their advertisements.

    May this be true of Michael Moynihan on reason? Why would he be any different? Just askin'.

  • ||

    iih-

    I believe Reason is a non-profit.

  • iih||

    joe, btw, the Sox are screwed.

  • iih||

    I believe Reason is a non-profit

    But they still need to have readers, right? Actually I like most reason authors, especially Dave, Ron, Jesse, and above all, Nick.

  • ||

    It's defintely a longshot, iih.

    The Indians are hitting like mad men, and their second-tier pitchers (bullpen and bottom-of-the-rotation starters) are getting the job done.

    I'm not saying Cleveland is the better team, but they are playing better baseball right now.

  • iih||

    Funny... going back to the Gagne mess-up, "gagne" is French for "win"!

  • ||

    I'm not saying Cleveland is the better team, but they are playing better baseball right now.

    Jesus H. Cocksucking Christ, you can't even talk about baseball without being an insufferably smug jackass.

  • iih||

    Warty, that is not a "joe" thing. It is a "Massachusetts" thing. "Us vs. the world pride". "We're right, everyone else is wrong". You know what, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, unless you're from outside MA, especially if you're a Yankee fan.

  • Les||

    May this be true of Michael Moynihan on reason?

    I dunno, it felt to me like he was searching for something to write about, and figured his annoyance at Stewart was a worthy subject. I certainly don't think it was, but, hey, he's the professional.

    I'm no mind-reader and I'm sure he had his own reasons.

  • iih||

    Les:

    I dunno, it felt to me like he was searching for something to write about, and figured his annoyance at Stewart was a worthy subject.

    It came across like this to me too. I am just suggesting that all journalists, including our favorite authors on reason be held accountable. We, as consumers, should always demand honesty. I for one was dismayed at Michael's coverage of the whole Hirsi episode. He is certainly one-sided on issues relating to Islam and Muslims. He never lies, true, but presents the part of the story that serves his bias best. I have provided, for example, context for Ali's controversy that Michael refrained from providing. I did not like that very much, and I will keep demanding full, but not partial, honesty. Ronald Bailey did respond much better regarding my concerns on the presentation of the big picture than did Michael.

  • Kris||

    iih:

    joe's criticism of Moynihan is because he (joe) too feels threatened by Moynihan.

  • ||

    "Us vs. the world pride".

    Try being a Browns fan. "Yeah, we suck. Fuck you, what about it?"

  • iih||

    Kris:

    May be true, but that is exactly the point. I do not see Stewart as feeling threatened by anyone, hence I think he's honest and frank. The political discourse in this country is so divided and is always one sided. Americans now elect people simply to defeat the other side's leader. GOPers will elect Rudy, not out of love, but only because he's the only one who is perceived to defeat Hillary. There are many Obama admirers who would vote Hillary in the primaries simply because she's perceived as the one candidate to beat Rudy. It is a devastating cycle.

    The media is following suite. The news media who know who their viewers/readers are and will provide material that slanders the other side most, regardless of where the truth actually is. We should hold Moynihan and reason responsible if we, the consumers, hope to keep reason at the same level of professionalism that they have gotten us used to. (And I do think that reason is truly the most honst, principled, intelligent, and responsible magazine available today. I wish it stays the same. That is why we should criticize and they listen.)

  • iih||

    Warty:

    :-)

    I don't even know who the "browns" are (just googled them). Tells you much about your Cleveland Browns or, more likely, about my proficiency in NFL. I have recently become a fan of that most awesome team, the NE Patriots. But, really, sports is a world of tribalism. It is all about one's tribe, regardless of how bad or good the team is.

  • ||

    The Browns are the team that has come the closest so far this year to beating your disgusting Patriots. Also, the Pats' coach used to coach the Browns back in the 90s. Guess how he did back then? I still hate him for cutting Bernie Kosar.

  • iih||

    The Browns are the team that has come the closest so far this year to beating your disgusting Patriots.

    Someone's awfully jealous here ;-) But, seriously, the patriots are really good! By the way, I used to be a Pistons fan (used to live in MI) until the Caveliers did what they did last year. They were good.

  • ||

    Used to be a fan? I don't think you quite understand the concept of fandom here.

  • iih||

    I don't think you quite understand the concept of fandom here.

    Yeah, who cares. It is only sports (and tribal), and not like, God forbid, politics or something ;-)

  • Ms Bad Girl||

    Let me inject some nuance for the brighter posters here.

    Journalists lean left (as most intellectuals do, creationism and jingoism plays poorly with folks who read), but most do care about being balanced.

    Easy fella, you are going to strain that elbow if you keep patting yourself on the back.

    Most journalist and academics believe in evolution over creation not because they have studied the matter in depth but because they are easily coward in accepting the zeitgeist of their class. In the 19th century that zeitgeist was mostly right wing and nationalistic and not left wing, and they fallowed it like cattle then as they do left internationalist socialism now. It isn't a matter of being more informed. $5000 for every newborn, anyone?

    BTW, I've always despised nice guys because they tend to be vain, passive aggressive and needy. Give me a hardcore asshole like Joe any day of the week.

  • bromo98||

    I used to not be able to watch interviews that Steward did, even though I loved the show. However, he's had on military and administration (and former administration) folks and the interviews have been damn good. Very much improved from when he started, even just a few years ago.
    Jon is able to have it both ways - he can be a comedian, a 'news guy', or a pundit - because he just can.
    There are holes in his platforms from time to time, but he pulls together angles for his 'news' stories that others miss. The Talking Points montages are golden. Especially for one who has better things to do on a Sunday morning than watch the weekend politico shows.
    By being funny - and by being right a lot of the time - you can buy yourself the respect and credibility and he's done it. It's not fake news - but I'll take it over 'real news' 4 days a week.

  • ||

    >"strikes me as a self-hurt book, if you will."

    >What any of this means is anyone's guess. But Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz-and his network boosters love that he's sticking it to the chattering classes, no matter how incoherent the insult.

    -----

    Disingenuous; wrong; lame.

  • ||

    "2. TV shows that offer commentary and interviews are not news no matter how much the 24 hour news networks try to convice you. It's a talk show, not news. It's filler, there is not enough news to fill up 24 hours of TV time so they can to come up with something

    I also liked Fox's Red Eye, the one I've managed to see so far, which had Kerry Howley.

  • herodotus||

    Can someone tell me, can somebody PLEASE tell me why so many people who obviously are not libertarians frequent this board?

  • Jackie Treehorn||

    You lost me me right here:

    "What any of this means is anyone's guess. But Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz-and his network boosters love that he's sticking it to the chattering classes, no matter how incoherent the insult."

  • iih||

    Can someone tell me, can somebody PLEASE tell me why so many people who obviously are not libertarians frequent this board?

    Because they are free to do so?

  • ||

    I guess what irks me about Moynihan's article is that it misses the point of the Daily Show. It mentions his skewering of Carlson but fails to mention one of the salient points Stewart made as he did so-- that the lead-in to his program is off-the-wall comedy, often very over-the-top comedy, like South Park or Crank Yankers. It's comedy, first and foremost.

    Although perhaps in an editorial fashion it fails to add much to the public discourse, what Stewart (and Colbert) bring to the public discussion is much more important: satire. Satire which rips equally on both sides of the aisle is invaluable in this era of dishonesty and partisan politics.

    Someone before me on here said it well: "By being funny - and by being right a lot of the time - you can buy yourself the respect and credibility and he's done it." I concur, heartily. Since when are we Reasonable thinkers against dissent, or satire, or all that it entails?

  • ||

    Colbert is so much funnier than Stewart. The first time I saw The Daily Show, after hearing much hype about how great it is and how sexy John Stewart is (yes, women think that) I was like "'eh." The first time I saw Colbert, having never heard of him at all, I was ready to order up some cable. Which I never actually did. But I love an opportunity to see The Colbert Report. And Colbert is sexier than Stewart. He almost makes me feel ok about having been raised in Charleston, SC.

  • ||

    Can someone tell me, can somebody PLEASE tell me why so many people who obviously are not libertarians frequent this board?

    Because it's hip and amusing.

  • ||

    From what crapalicious libertarian think tank did the this Moynihan guy crawl?

    "What any of this means is anyone's guess. But Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz-and his network boosters love that he's sticking it to the chattering classes, no matter how incoherent the insult."

    And are there any editors left at Reason, or does shit just get thrown up on the Internets as its written.

  • ||

    Many years ago I was a big fan of the old Daily Show - not the old, old Daily Show with Craig Kilborn, but the old, relatively apolitical Stewart-hosted show that was known for things like correspondents who followed John McCain around and asked him Trivial Pursuit questions about Bjork at news conferences. I don't really follow the show these days and don't know whether it's currently funny, although I do watch Colbert occasionally and he is great.

    The one thing I have to give Stewart (and Colbert, who copied Stewart in this respect and has landed even better guests) credit for is that he does frequently have authors and intellectual people on as guests. That sort of mainstream outlet for thoughtful discussion used to be common on Jack Paar and even Carson, but such people rarely appear on Letterman or Leno (although I did once see an Egyptologist on Craig Ferguson, of all places). Other than that, Stewart's greatest legacy may be launching the careers of two people (Colbert and Steve Carell) more talented than he is.

  • ||

    Moynihan,

    I'm surprised you didn't understand the Matthews interview. Stewart's point: Living life "as a campaign" -- that is, using cheap showmanship rather than honesty -- is a sad way to live.

    If you're looking through partisan frames, I'm not surprised you missed it. Most people missed the point of the "Crossfire" incident, positing the exchange as Stewart vs. Carlson. Stewart was criticizing Begala as well. Tucker just took greater offense or was simply louder in his response.

    Stewart's show is a skewering not of one party or the other, but of rhetoric. It's skewering our public discourse -- the sound bites, the phony conflicts, slogans over substance.

    The way politicians and the kowtowing media speak to us is an insult. Stewart is picking up the glove and slapping back.

    If you don't "get" that, it's your loss.

  • ed||

    Jon Stewart is a journalist? When did this happen? Did someone change the meaning of the word again? If he's a journalist, can I be a Supreme Court Justice? I look really good in black.

  • ||

    Settle down, Warty. They had the best record in baseball for a reason.

    Sorry your football team sucks, but there's no reason to get testy with me.

  • Michael Moynihan||

    yo whats bawlin thugggzzz 2welcome to ma clubzzz holla @ yo dog, drive dat hog, wog wog wog

  • ed||

    I'm rooting for Chief Wahoo against Sox Nation, if only for the chance to see two Cleveland sports teams get swept in the finals in the same year. That would be soooo funny.

  • The 2005 White Sox||

    The Red Sox are the better team but the Indians are playing better? Hmm, joe, we remember that rationalization.

  • ||

    This thread will be a goldmine of gotcha quotes when someone skewers one of the other team's sacred cows and everybody flip-flops on the "It's outrageous" / "It's hyperbole" teeter-totter.

    Meanwhile, this goes into my personal hopper as particularly egregious:

    "Actually the worst thing about the show is Lewis Black. That guy is so painfully unfunny he makes a hack like Patton Oswalt look like Lenny Bruce."

    Goldthwait,

    You're named after one of my all-time favorite comedians, but you, dear sir, do not understand comedy. At all. On so many different levels.

  • ||

    And by teams, I do not mean Red Sox or Indians.

  • ||

    When Detroit lost the series, they were the better team. They just played like crap.

    In the Patriots/Rams Superbowl, St. Louis was clearly the better team. The better team doesn't always win - it's all about how well they play in that game, or in that series.

    This is not a difficult concept.

  • ||

    "Don't tell me to relax, asshole. You were wrong, don't lecture me."

    Well, this could have been an interesting thread but an emotional nine-year old, demonstrated by the quote above, hijacked it early on.

    As for Stewart's grousing about the low state of politics today, has there really been an age when politics was free of partisan mudslinging and self-serving special interests? Or at least an age when it was much better than it is today? I don't know that media treatment of politics and politicians has ever been as self-interested and dirty as it was during the Adams and Jefferson periods.

  • ||

    No, the team that wins is the better team. This is as simple as simple gets.

  • ||

    "Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz" - WHAT A FUCKHEAD

  • ||

    Wow! And I thought the Ayn Rand list was hot.

    Here's the thing: Stewart is not funny. He's not funny unless you're a conventional, angry liberal. I mean, how many jokes can one take about stoopid George Bush and mean and nasty Dick Cheney? How many jokes can one take where the punch line is dependent on a presumed "The world will end soon because of global warming and everyone knows it" premise? Gimme a break.

    David Letterman is sometimes funny because, while a liberal, he's basically apolitical.

    I would have liked to see a statistic about the size of Stewart's audiance compared to

  • ed||

    Tell us! Tell us!

  • ||

    The suspense is killing me!!1!

    Godammit! Compared to what?

    Kim Kardashian's butt? The number of people who downloaded the new Radiohead album and only paid $.01? Pete Doherty's crack budget? The unique visitors to StuffOnMyCat.com?

    Answer me!

  • ||

    But Stewart's studio audience-who would explode into fits of cheers if the host denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz

    Fuck you, Moynihan. That's grossly uncalled-for.


    joe, the man always present to defend cult like studio audiences for comedy shows.

  • ||

    Stewart is taken seriously because he puts up big numbers

    Huh?

    More people watch Adult Swim.

  • ||

    And yes, Frisky Dingo's second season which has Killface who won the Democrat presidential nomination because his Analiatricks stopped global warming running against a billionaire closeted gay republican is far funnier political commentary then anything seen on Jon Stewart.

  • theOneState||

    Why are so many people so pissed off about Moynihan's comment? I'm asking for real because I don't understand. Apparently you all think it's self-evident so you just launch into calling him names. But I don't get it. And I'm a nazi. (Small "n".)

  • ||

    theOneState - It's just a stupid, irrelevant comment. Hyperbole to make noise and seem prescient. I'm not at all offended - just annoyed.

  • ||

    Good to see there's still quite a bit of decency on the other side of the fence.

  • theOneState||

    It's just a stupid, irrelevant comment. Hyperbole to make noise and seem prescient.

    Oh, I see. Like these?

    WHAT A FUCKHEAD

    Fuck you, Moynihan. That's grossly uncalled-for.

    Disingenuous; wrong; lame.

    From what crapalicious libertarian think tank did the this Moynihan guy crawl?

    But whatever. I just don't get the name-calling, argument-free dressings down of Michael C. The reactions seem over the top to me and none of the name-callers made an actual argument.

    Here's a writing trick I learned in grade school: if you're having trouble with your argument, try stating it in the form "X is Y because Z." So, you might say "Moynihan is A FUCKHEAD because he made fun of Jon Stewart but Jon Stewart is cool and I like to draw his picture on my Harry Potter folio. Wanna see?" Or something like that.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    THE ONE STATE OBVIOUSLY WENT TO ONE OF THEM THAR FANCY SKUULS.

  • ||

    The Daily Show stopped being really funny about, oh, 2001. Maybe 2002? It was fucking hilarious in the 90s tho.

    Colbert is much better now.

  • ||

    if you're having trouble with your argument

    That wasn't an argument, but here you go:

    Moynihan's elevation of "strikes me as a self-hurt book, if you will." is disingenuous because "you wrote a self-hurt book HAHAHA" wasn't the aim. It's a cute preface to some more serious question, not in itself an attack.

    The "denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz" part is literally wrong, and more importantly wrong by the real point about how the audience applauds everything Stewart says because he says it -- wrong because they of course provide varying levels of applause: sometimes they don't applaud when expected; sometimes they boo.

    I can't say why I called the conclusive "no matter how incoherent the insult." lame, but it's probably just because I was by that point in full sneer.

    Anyway, just as 'faint praise' is bad praise, so also is 'faint criticism' bad criticism. Stewart's a horribly incoherent insulter because of some remark that I can fit into his speech patterns after watching one show? Golly.

  • ||

    Warty,

    In all seriousness, if the Red Sox lose this game, I will absolutely no problem rooting for the Cleveland Yankee Beaters.

    Go 'Beaters!

  • ||

    The author seems to miss the point of Stewart's media criticism. Typically Stewart directs his ire at broadcast television news, where in contrast to America's "bifurcated" print media, serious news and tabloid frivolity are given more-or-less equal coverage. Being a longtime viewer of his show, I can't think of many instances , if any, where he has criticized the print media.

    Stewart's point seems to be that we'd all be better off if we had a bifurcated broadcast media that mirrored our newspapers, with the tabloid trash on E!, the real news on the networks and cable news channels, and the partisan bullshit machine off the air entirely.

  • ||

    Warty,

    That ball was out! It was out!

    Don't give me that! It was out!

  • iih||

    joe:

    It was on the line! ;-)

  • ||

    THERE IS NO TRUTH

    On Sept 11, 2001, there were long pauses of silence as the cameras panned the destruction and the airheaded tv journalists ran out of things to say.

    For the first time, after pumping viewers for years with phony hooks of anxiety and solutions between commercials, they stared it in the face and soiled their perches of therapeutic confidence with the embarrassing, shallow utterances of a lost child.

    With 24/7 news everywhere, reality has become scarce, so when it happens, it is parsed through the news cycle like an Andy Warhol series of icons changing slightly in tone and hue but holding up to represent what's "real" for the day.

    Somewhere between Walter Cronkite and Jon Stewart, the separation between the observer and the event on tv news disappeared, intentionally combined as an inseparable phenomena for most news of any significance due largely to the public relations industry and more recently bolstered by technology and secrecy.

    The assassination of John Kennedy, Watergate, the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9-11 and some dwindling investigative reports were exceptions, while most tv news became an "embedded" planned or expected event to a significant degree.

    The perfect manifestation of this phenomena occurs on tv increasingly as journalists interview and report on each other in incestuous fashion, trading days on which one is the news and which one is the reporter.

    As indicated above in the comments of Alan Vanneman, Fluffy, J Canfield and others, Jon Stewart and his viewers see most news AS comedy because so much of it is staged, manipulated or trivialized whether from a liberal or conservative perspective.

    And little is more unique to one's persona than what is funny, which is usually a combination of irony and suprise that throws one off the trodden path of expectations for a few seconds of laughter.

    But in this case, it's a well worn path of jaded untruth that can only be created by the bland and simple minds of tv news.

    There's no point in trying to separate the observer from the event anymore, so mocking it by Jon Stewart with pseudo reality that makes the absurd look more absurd or only ridiculous is all that's left.

  • qwerty||

    wow, and I thought you were going to try and make an intelligent point

  • satyr9us||

    I simply don't know how to express my disappointment with this article. It's truly terrible. And then all these thugs in the comment thread, swearing at each other and actually becoming incensed in an argument over whether a comedian is funny. Reason ain't what it used to be.

  • ||

    This is terrible. Audience cheering holocaust denial, really? What an embarrassing, disappointing, and disgusting piece.

  • oread||

    He's a satirist, not a journalist. His topic is politics. I don't think that means he's a journalist, it means his writing staff reads the news and writes funny things about depressing sh*t.
    Would anyone call Aristophenes a philosopher along the lines of Aristotle or Plato? No, he told people what he thought the two were spouting and mocked it.
    And he doesn't pick his audience. I think that's obvious when he'll stop after a bit and go "really? you laughed at X but not Y or Z? really? ok then..."
    S A T I R E. Dig it. Or don't. But it aint journalism, dude.

  • quillini||

    I think the writer's objection to Stewart is far more disingenuous than Stewart himself. Jon Stewart is simply smarter than most other newscasters, and that is why he is more popular. Blame it on the sycophantic audience all you want, but I suspect the writer is simply jealous. That's natural, but such bitterness produces ugly half-baked polemics such as this.

    1) There IS such a thing as objective truth, whether or not the media recognizes it. The absurd postmodern idea that all is subjective is one of the big reasons we are in Iraq.

    2) Just what kind of journalist is Tucker Carlson? What did Jon Stewart say on Crossfire that was untrue?

    3) Pointing out absurdities and expressing opinions are two different things. That's the difference between Colbert and Bill O'Reilly.

    4) Holocaust joke tally: Moynihan 1 Stewart 0.

    Grow up sir. Quit bitching and step your game up.

  • Bill||

    Fuck you, Moynihan. Come by any synagogue and repeat that joke. I fuckin dare you.

  • ||

    can we separate the noise from particles of truth? maybe we havent evolved enough for that task. stewart and colbert are entertainers who exploit the pathos and remind us how easily we are exploited. the slant doesnt appeal to some but as long as the upton sinclairs and the like are poking fun at the power seekers it gives the calorie seekers and the profit seekers a chance to catch their breath for the next round.

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