Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Jon Stewart Wins At TV

Remember a few posts ago when I called out Tucker Carlson and others for using war metaphor? If you don't, feel free to catch up. No worries. Maybe you instead remember some of the many times I have called out politicians or religious figures for using hateful or derogatory rhetoric about the people they disagree with (here, here, or here, among other examples). Either way, I'm sure I have made clear my distaste for Glenn Beck, Pat Robertson, MSNBC and all the rest of the rhetorictocrats (copyright to Xander) which have taken over our televisions, radio stations and news outlets. Partisan hackery should have no place in today's politics, and as such I distance myself from Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore and all the rest who partake in such foolishness.

Because I reject the ideologies of both political parties (and therefore virtually all of cable news), I find myself being drawn toward whatever voice of reason I am able to find...like I've said before, I am all about moderation - the middle ground. What else to I enjoy? Comedy. What would be awesome? Combining the two.

If you remember my initial post concerning Tucker Carlson, you may have watched a video clip I included of Jon Stewart destroying both Tucker Carlson and his partner on their CNN show, Crossfire. In short, Stewart implored the two men to forgo their polarizing rhetoric on the show (Tucker was on the far right, while his partner was on the far left) and instead work together to help create a positive political environment. What followed? Crossfire was cancelled a mere three months later, and Carlson left for MSNBC.

That appearance typifies why I prefer Stewart to any of the available options on television today. Yes, I know his show is rooted in satire. If I want straight, factual news I will consult a variety of internet sources, ranging from Fox News to CNN to - from time to time - the Huffington Post. But when it comes to news commentary, I find myself agreeing most often with the views Stewart presents on the Daily Show; from his willingness to jab individuals on either side of the political spectrum to his affinity for avoiding rhetoric, Stewart is the closest thing to moderation and sanity that exists among cable news commentary (if you are wondering who I prefer next after Stewart, the answer would be Bill O'Reilly).

Anyway, I was watching the Daily Show a couple of nights ago, and I encountered the following segment. Background: Steve Cohen, a Democratic Representative from Tennessee, compared Republicans who he believed were lying about the pending health care reforms to Joseph Goebbels, the leading propagandist of the Nazi party during World War II. This, of course, is absurd and unacceptable rhetoric. Soon after his statement, condemnations of Cohen's rhetoric began to pop up, and rightly so. Leading the charge was Fox News, with many others following right behind. However, Megyn Kelly, host of Fox News' America Live, was confronted by a Democratic strategist who claimed that such rhetoric is both used by Republicans and on Fox News; she, of course, denied that this was the case, claiming that such rhetoric never appears on the network. In response to the firestorm of rhetoric, Jon Stewart aired a segment both condemning Cohen for using the Nazi rhetoric, as well as creating a montage of clips featuring Fox News commentators and guests using similar Nazi rhetoric to that of Rep. Cohen. Enjoy.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
24 Hour Nazi Party People
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Following this initial segment, Mr. O'Reilly took offense to Stewart's including him in the montage, and as such attempted to place the rhetoric into context. This led to the following clip:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill O'Reilly Defends His Nazi Analogies
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

So, I guess my point is that I enjoy Jon Stewart because he sees things for what they are; regardless of party, if someone says or does something stupid, he calls them out for it. Not bi-partisan, but rather non-partisan. Is he a little left leaning? Sure. But you'll have to concede that there is no such thing as the dead center. Are you concerned that the clips I presented seem to give the right (Fox News) a harder time than the left? If so, I have a two-part response: first, Fox News undoubtedly provides better material and more ridiculous rhetoric than anyone else; second, please consult the Daily Show website for Stewart's critique of President Obama's recent State of the Union address. The man is as fair and balanced in his critiquing as I have been able to find.

This doesn't mean that Stewart is ideal or that his beliefs are correct. Everyone has some bias, and in an ideal world that bias wouldn't exist. But for my money, Stewart is as close to fair as exists in news commentary today; almost all the other options have become caricatures of themselves, moving further and further from the middle as time goes on (O'Reilly may be the exception). And even beyond delivering the news in a relatively fair and balanced way, Stewart does it while making you laugh, which in this political climate we all desperately, desperately need.

And so on...

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