Important Observation from a Daily Dish Reader

12Dec08

From DD:

John Stewart is not a great interviewer because he has a double standard: Hiding behind the excuse that it’s not his job to ask hard-hitting questions when it’s a guest he wants to coddle, lobbing them nothing but softball questions. But swinging away with satire, sarcasm and tough questions for guests he and his audience oppose. He used to be more cloaked, but the Bush years and the corresponding rise in popularity of liberalism seem to have emboldened him to be openly biased.

But since Huckabee and others know the game and still do the show, who can blame him for continuing the bit?

It’s a critical point in understanding the world in the post-MSM era. Stewart may have less material in the next four years, but he will still have plenty of Republicans trying to build a youth following, and a lot of Democrats who will want to claim to be foot soldiers in the Obama movement. Cable news is going to try to construct a narrative as it always does, so we won’t get a lot of analysis and discussion on actual issues.

The state of the media makes Stewart’s refusal to be considered a journalist all the more frustrating. In the past two weeks, we’ve seen Stewart effectively take apart two guests on either side of the political spectrum (the reader doesn’t agree with me on this point, btw).  Perhaps it is Stewart’s rogue status as a political comedian that allows him to have a simple debate with guests or to ask them blunt questions without the histrionic pretensions of a Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, or Campbell Brown (Olbermann less so because he doesn’t bring on anyone he disagrees with). Stewart doesn’t even attempt to filter his work (entertainment just like every real anchor) through any lens of journalistic ethics. The result: Stewart produces genuine exposition rather than the faux outrage of cable news. It’s not that we need to see arguments destroyed, it’s just that an honest discussion needs to take place so we can come to more honest positions.

This may sound strange to say on a blog, but Stewart’s discussion with Huffington effectively debunked a lot of the non-sense aura that people (primarily liberals) associate with the blogosphere. He then proceded to completely debunk the “traditional marriage” and populist arguments Huckabee supplied for banning gay marriage. So if what Stewart does is getting to the truth of public affairs, how is that not journalism?

I’ve never heard Stewart give a sufficient answer to that question, instead he prefers to excuse the Daily Show as a mere comedy show. The problem with that, is that there really isn’t anyone in the journalism business who does what Stewart does as well as he does.  Stewart claims his show is a “fake news” program; which begs the question, what is a real news show, because surely the clowns on cable that he has been mocking cannot be “real news.” Stewart is issuing a blanket cop-out; he essentially is saying that his show cannot count for much because it happens to be on Comedy Central and is also hilarious; isn’t this similar (on an obviously much, much smaller scale) to saying the president can break the law during war-time if it helps the country?

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