Jon Stewart on Crossfire

The blog world is freaking out about Jon Stewart’s incendiary appearance on CNN’s Crossfire today, in which Jon calls hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala “partisan hacks” that are reducing the level of political discourse in the country. (Here’s the complete transcript.)

My friend Phil was quick to post the complete appearance on his BitTorrent server, and my other friend Leonard is hosting the direct download. (It’s good to have friends with lots of bandwidth.)

Watch the video now, and watch Leonard’s bandwidth graph skyrocket! The 36MB WMV looks and sounds great, so don’t bother downloading the 97 MB version.

53 thoughts on “Jon Stewart on Crossfire

  1. Awesome. John Stewart said what I believe most people feel about the media today. It truly has become theatre and nothing else. Thanks for the video.

  2. Yeah I thought this was great. Stewart really laid into them…in fact, my 63 year old uncle couldnt stop laughing when he called Carlson a dick on CNN.

  3. It always impresses me how Stewart manages to be so scathing with his comments (I’m thining alos of his appearance on O’Reilly) and yet so meek and self-depricating at the same time. Class. Bless his heart.

  4. The torrent I got from the same link as above didn’t have commercials. And badnarik, in my opinion, the reason everyone is excited over this is that we’re all a little high from actually seeing someone on TV saying something that we have wanted said for a long time. It’s a euphoric, hopeful sense of relief.

  5. I didn’t think Stewart came across so well. Part of the humor of the Daily Show (which I love) is the suspension of disbelief that Stewart isn’t partisan himself or rather that there is some non-partisan space in which political discussion and mockery of it can occur. He attempts sort of a Gen-X version of Columbo where every question kind of begs the answer that he already assumes but pretends not to assume. But this is all so 19th century. Most people these days believe that spin is all there is at some level – that politics and even reality itself is socially constructed to a large extent. I guess I just don’t buy the easy belief that the “truth” is somewhere between the two spins on Crossfire. The moment we start to pretend that some human or another is giving us the objective truth, all we’ve done is just empowered that person to spin and pretend he or she isn’t spining. Personally, I’d prefer us to all be in a crowded spin alley than in spin monologue.

  6. Barlow:

    ‘I guess I just don’t buy the easy belief that the “truth” is somewhere between the two spins on Crossfire. The moment we start to pretend that some human or another is giving us the objective truth, all we’ve done is just empowered that person to spin and pretend he or she isn’t spining. Personally, I’d prefer us to all be in a crowded spin alley than in spin monologue.’

    And that is the problem that Stewart finds troubling with today’s media. The major media outlets have completely abolished any meaningful search for any form of truth, and instead they have lowered themselves to the lowest common denominator of human nature by spouting pure demagogery.

    Politics is certainly not the realm of objective truth; if it were objective, making these decisions would be so easy and the whole political process would be unnecessary. Rather, politics is about subjective truth, i.e. what’s beneficial on a personal basis, extending to the aggregate of the American people. Right now, with shows like Crossfire, you can only be on either one side or the other; there is no room left for the time, discussion, or compromise needed to reach the best ‘subjective truth'(political decision).

    Essentially, I believe that Jon Stewart’s underlying message is unfortunately apt: that the search for the best political decision-making is being subverted into mere inflammatory rhetoric from partisan hacks.

    Moreover, the fact that you, as a member of the American public going for a Ph.D., are willing to condemn us to spin alley is disturbing.

  7. Yes, I watch “The Daily Show” Mon-Thur and “Best Week Ever” in that slot on Fridays.

    Brian, thanks for your comments. It *is* uncomfortable for me to be sticking up for spin. Perhaps it sounds also like I’m taking up for the kind of spin on Crossfire, but I’m not a big fan of that show. Put me down for liking the kind of spin on McLaughlin Group or on the Friday morning news roundtable on Diane Rehm’s show. But I still think you’ve got to decide which way you want it to be – if you’re granting that politics is about what is best for “the aggregate of the American people” then you’re right back to right and left because the term “best” is not at all an objective matter and tends to shake out right and left in our society. What is “best” for anyone or any group is a whole nexus of moral, material, and interpersonal issues. Again, there is no value-free, philosophy-free realm where we can step out of the spin and consider what is “best” for anyone. If you want to embrace the idea that there is a value-free, non-socially-constructed arena where these issues can be considered, then I would love to see the standards that you’re going to be applying in that arena. My guess is that those standards are simply not going to be as evident to all of us as they are to you.

    My fear is a white guy on a 33 share nightly news broadcast acting as though he’s objective when really he is subtley spinning. That’s what we had in this country for way too long. Perhaps this is a period of shake-out while we come to peace with modern epistemology and settle back down into a less highly-charged experience of political diversity.

  8. Jon Stewart is becoming the political media prophet of our time. He’s too smart, and too funny, to be denied. Humor is a magnificent trojan horse, and he is riding high on it. Let’s hope he doesn’t fall. We need him.

  9. I believe there is something resembling objectivity in (or rather behind) politics. Although, it is less a matter of political science than it is a matter of understanding the material conditions (as per cultural materialism) that precipitate the values, practices and, of course, the politics we have. To suggest that spin is unavoidable ignores the level of knowledge and subsequent control we (as a society, nation, culture, or even species) can therefore exert over our material environment.

    This is to say, for example, that if we wish to change things in spin, if we wish for some honesty, the economic stratification that is as pervasive as to allow elite control over the media must be challenged. There must be greater, broader access to this primary means of dissemination.

    Now, I don’t mean to say that this will provide objectivity in itself. It will, however, help reduce the capacity of any one interested group to spin as freely as is done now. The whole left – right dynamic is a false dichotomy, and until there is popular access to the media, it will remain in place, reducing the number of options thought possible by the majority.

    Yet, this is just my opinion.

  10. Here’s the problem with your statement barlow: Stewart isn’t claiming to be stating objective truth, he is claiming to be a comedian trying to be funny. The fact that his attempts at humor are closer to truth than the “truths” told on supposedly legitemate news media is frightening, and that is what he is really saying.

  11. Hi Aaron – I know that’s what Stewart is saying, but (a) he’s trying to have it both ways, and (b) that’s exactly what I said above about what his humor rests on.

    Just for an example of what I’m talking about, try to get ahold of a transcript of Stewart’s interview with Ralph Reed from a few weeks ago. Stewart attempts snippy rhetorical question after snippy question to which Reed provides actual answers, forcing Stewart to move on to his next snippy question. He wants to make rhetorical points in the context of humor, pretend he isn’t making points, and then pretend that the impact of the points that he isn’t making rests in their attachment to a reality that Crossfire with its spin can’t actually approach.

  12. BS There are truths, especially scientific truths. Not everything is subjective.

    There will be and is now a cost of the war in iraq.

    The US past its peak oil production in 70s and is and will be dependent on foreign sources of oil until it’s population falls in line with carrying capacity.

    American life as we know it cannot continue without cheap concentrated forms of energy. Therefore, energy is the single most important issue of our time. Obviously Cheney knows this and has stated so. The laws of thermodynamics are not subjective.

    Either the US has lost fulltime jobs or it has not.

    Etc…

    Sujectivity is an excuse for complacency and inaction.

  13. Stewart’s point is strong. His show is definitely not meant to make any sort of specific points about individuals — it’s an extended joke about the whole system. His book is exactly that as well.

    Stewart’s point on Crossfire is not to be taken lightly though. If you’ve ever listened to the Canadian radio show “As It Happens” you can really see what spin-free questions are like: they frequently force a person to truly answer by not taking a spun answer as valid. In some cases the person still doesn’t answer, to their own demise in the ears of the listeners.

  14. I think it’s important to point out that most of the people commenting missed the broadcast, but have either downloaded the BitTorrent file or watched it on a source like iFilm. Yesterday, the iFilm clip had 99,228 views. The clip now has 253,377 views.

    Why in the world isn’t CNN hosting this complete with commercials. 250,000 iFilm veiwers plus how many torrents? More people saw this online than when it was aired.

  15. This yelling-at-each-other, lack of respect nonsense started with the McLaughlin Group and spread like a disease. It’s coarsened our political life into a game– no wonder we can’t get anything done.

    I am a conservative Republican in New York, so you know I have a sense of humor. Jon Stewart hit it right on the head. I wasn’t going to buy his book, but now I am, as a symbol of support.

    I think he should get the puppets to call into some of these so-called political shows. Let Chris Mathews yell at a suffed dummy instead of…well, bad example.

  16. Hi again Barlow, thanks for having the decency not to get completely offended… I’ve read way too many messages/flamefests from Yahoo message boards, and this is a very refreshing contrast!

    Before replying to your message directly, I think I need to address what I meant when I said that “politics is about subjective truth”. What I meant to imply is this: when society is functioning at its highest intellectual level, all of the decisions that could have been objectively evaluated will have been objectively evaluated. And hence, all that should remain for the realm of politics is the discernment of subjective truths. Of course, I hardly believe that American society has reached its highest intellectual functioning, mostly because most people are not willing to take the time to actually study the issues at hand. Additionally, I believe that government always ends up selectively silencing some voices of research (via subjective approaches to funding); naturally, this allows one to control the masses by transforming objective-decisions into subjective-decisions(which are easily influenced by propaganda). Of course, the content of the silenced material will depend on who’s in charge at the current time.

    Now for your post:

    if you’re granting that politics is about what is best for “the aggregate of the American people” then you’re right back to right and left because the term “best” is not at all an objective matter and tends to shake out right and left in our society. What is “best” for anyone or any group is a whole nexus of moral, material, and interpersonal issues. Again, there is no value-free, philosophy-free realm where we can step out of the spin and consider what is “best” for anyone. If you want to embrace the idea that there is a value-free, non-socially-constructed arena where these issues can be considered, then I would love to see the standards that you’re going to be applying in that arena. My guess is that those standards are simply not going to be as evident to all of us as they are to you.

    Definitely, I agree that ‘best’ is not objective, and I chose that word because I know it is discouraged in academia. The word is discouraged because ‘best’ is definitely subjective, and the term should not be applied to ‘objective truth’. But, I do encourage us to reach the ‘best subjective truth’ as a whole, i.e. one that each of us feels fairly comfortable with and one that we(as a group) have compromised on. And if we can’t seem to compromise on the issue at hand, maybe we need to take the time to actually open our eyes, study the issue more carefully, and see if the other side has relevant points which we can give a bit of ground on. What I am thinking is that these shows have only served to push Americans away from each other, and we are losing the ability to compromise or take the time to study the issues carefully.

    Perhaps more importantly, I think that the American public should strive to reform our parties from within. I feel that, in the midst of this nation-wide political flamefest, we have lost the ability to admit that our chosen party may be wrong in a given way. But instead of clamoring that party ‘X’ address the wrongness, we are being taken along for a ride because party ‘X’ supports most of our feelings on ‘subjective political decisions’. They really need to be informed of all of our feelings on the political decisions they’re making. (Disturbingly, when I have seen people admit publically that their party may be wrong, they are immediately shot down as being unfaithful to their party. But… telling the truth about how they feel may be the most faithful thing they can do for their party, since fixing the wrongness may help them win)

    Let me just summarize by saying this: with the type of media like Crossfire, we will never gain the wherewithal to make compromises and admit errors within our respective political parties.

    Man… I’m making comments the size of a blog entry. I need to start one up myself! 😉

  17. I am an independent New Yorker who is voting for GWB. I have 3 children, 20ish, in my house who are leaning towards Kerry. I respect that they have thier own opinions. Sadly one of them does not respect mine because she believes to much of the hateful commentary re Bush. I am sick of the behavior of the politicians and newspeople. I have seriuosly considered voting for Nader out of anger. I do believe that the American people will make the best informed decision they can. But as Jon Stewart clearly stated, we’re getting bad info. It’s up to all of us, regardless of your politics, to stand up and say STOP. Stop playing with our democracy. Thanks to Jon Stewart.

  18. Jon Stewart is a great talent and I love his show, but he sounds very hypocritical and condescending when he talks about partisan hackery. Jon is clearly partisan and allows democrats to spin to their hearts’ content on his show, while giving his republican guests questions which are obvious attacks put into question form. He says there is no comparison because his is a comedy show. This is true, but he is still a part of the discourse. Promotions for his show say more young people get their news from the Daily Show than from anywhere else. What does that make his show?

    Jon Stewart calls Tucker Carlson a dick for being a partisan hack, but its perfectly fine if he does it, because his show falls under the comedy category. I would accept that logic from anyone else, but coming from him it is very hypocritical. If I was a crossfire host I would have told Jon to get off his high horse.

  19. So many others would have taken the opportunity to promote their book or get a little bit of recognition. They would play the game, and it is so refreshing to see that Jon Stewart didn’t. When he was offered live tv, he took the time to say exactly what was on his mind, and what was on the mind of most people in America. When I first watched it I was so happy but I was also thinking, “finally, finally”.

  20. Mary,

    As John Stewart suggested, his is a comedy show and not to be confused with the (supposedly) non-partisan media outlets. In THAT [comedic] venue there is no reason why his comments SHOULDN’T be partisan.

    I think in the case of the Daily Show he/they is/are simply fed up and trying to level the playing field a bit. Seems that the writers just know what the shows demographic really wants to hear.

  21. I’ve read with interest the back and forth of the above comments. While the meta-conversation which hopes to more acurately describe the issue of media and “truth” is interesting, when I think about the stakes of the real life issue I find myself thinking “these guys are smart…but they’re wanking it.” Lets keep it simple. Let us demand that the media say what is more simply defined as true and not true. To give the swift boat idiots and the loftier refutations of their “evidence” equal time is to simply and fundimentally a journalistic failure. This is not complicated. This is not subtle. Sadly the “swifties” get far more coverage because it is “sexier”. We don’t need, and will never get, a mainstream media that discourses on the level displayed above. So be it. But they certainly can and should do a better job of shaking out the larger falacies that are perpetrated on the public with nary an objection. If the mainstream media just had some more guts (a huge if) the average level of truth in media would rise significantly. We have only to look to the BBC or CBC to see this. While not perfect they do at least attempt to maintain a stronger link to journalistic truth telling. We only need the american media to find the desire to once again ask the right question. Just do it a bit more often, in the right arena, with less fear or concern for the self. This is what Stewart has done on CNN’s Crossfire. And this is why so many are singing his praises. It is not because he is perfectly right and completely unhypocritical. It is because he had the GUTS to do it on CNN. Period.

  22. “My fear is a white guy on a 33 share nightly news broadcast acting as though he’s objective when really he is subtley spinning.”

    You seem to be missing it entirely. The Daily Show is comedy, not journalism.

  23. I actually agree with Jon Stewart. It’s just that to come on someone else’s show and call them a dick when you do the same thing yourself isn’t ballsy, its arrogant.

    Yes the Daily show is comedy, but there’s no reason Jon Stewart can’t ask John Kerry a real question rather than, “hey those Republicans sure suck don’t they?”

    BTW, Stewart didn’t promote his book, but he did propogate his image as a “media rebel”/ “average joe criticizing the entrenched elites” This image is more important to his success than a promotion of his book on Crossfire.

  24. First, Mr. Coux–

    You are mistaken and missing the elegance of the Daily Show to label it “comedy and not journalism”–why can’t the truth be exposed with humor? The Daily Show often uses satire to cut through the bullshit of the media and gov’t elites who otherwise get a free pass from the official Press Corps. They not only expose the falsehood and hence the underlying truth, but they do it with incredible wit and finesse.

    In the same way, Stewart not only properly put down CNN and Crossfire for failing to serve the public’s need for the truth, but he **ALSO** did it in a way that was hilarious, AND he outpaced even Carlson’s compulsive adolescent insults with better insults.

    Second, to Jeremy:

    You seem to resent the very fact of Stewart’s success at criticising Crossfire. How do you KNOW that his (self-) “image is more important to his success”? The guy already has numerous awards, and he has succeded by seven years of meritorious slogging. What’s wrong with giving credit where it is due?

    If Stewart someday turns into a comedic version of O-Reilly, who has really become almost demonic in his hubris, then you would have a point to make here.

    In my life of media watching, this will go down as one of the most dynamic falls from (presumed) grace of any media elite. CNN gave Stewart the whole half hour and even positioned him in the center facing the audience. They expected a little light banter with a few zingers from Carlson and what they got was a whipping that came on so fast that they never regained their balance. First Begala sat back and watched Carlson get reamed, but then, when he realized this was an equal opportunity condemnation, it was too late for him to even defend himself.

    Carlson and Begala fell on their heels so quickly that Stewart took over the agenda of the show and the two of them could not keep up. And Carlson looked especially assinine trying to employ his habitual “you’re worse than I am” attack against somebody who is not a true journalist!

    I wonder when they’ll invite Stewart back ?!

  25. Jeremy2020 – just to clarify, I thought it would be clear that I understand that Stewart is doing comedy on his show. The comment you quoted was aimed at the days of the big-three networks’ nightly news dominance. I think Stewart contributes to the same wonderful cacaphony that FoxNews/CNN/MSNBC create that destabilizes the idea that there is one official take on the news. My point is not to criticize what Stewart does on his show – it is to criticize what he idealizes the news to be on other shows. I also think it is naive to view Stewart’s comedy as not relying, in part, on that suspension of disbelief that he has a particular point of view and is somehow the neutral comedic observer, mocking the circus of it all. I gladly suspend disbelief every weeknight and howl at his show, but I know that he has a point of view and I can see it in how he treats his guests and in the way he criticizes the various candidates. He criticizes right and left, but he criticizes them in a different way.

  26. How we forget that back when Clinton was in office the Democrats took most of the blunt of the Daily Show’s attention.

    Right now the Republicans get smacked around on the Daily Show because they are more prominant in the news and government. Stewart has made many jokes on behalf of Kerry and Bush, it’s just there’s so much more material with Bush since he’s the president.

  27. Not to damn with faint praise, but Stewart may be the smartest man on television, and his show attracts the smartest people watching.

    The fact that his show is on Comedy Central proves his assertion: all the rest is theater.

    I think what he’s trying to do here is get the discussion started: what has the political discourse in our media devolved to? And what is the harm being done by that?

    Imagine an atmosphere of genuine debate, where the participants actually listened and responded to each other in the pursuit of the facts, instead of simply trying to score points on the other.

    We may actually end up with a few more informed and involved voters, and that, I fear, is why the corporations that own the media today would never let it happen.

    Alas.

  28. A “Canadian’s” Point of view…

    Just to give you all a little taste of how the rest of the world views the fishbowl “USA”.

    We have the same type of show in Canada titled This Hour Has 22 Minutes. This comedy/news show reports REAL, current news in a comedy setting. You think the Kerry interview was laid back, our Prime Minister did a comedy interview/sketch in a McDonald’s and has been ambushed/embraced by a size 12 mouthy but lovable Marge the Princess Warrior (insert Zena outfit). Try that stunt with any of your political big wigs. Actually… wait we did… but the closest we got to any political big boys was outside a fence.

    But to my real point, the show became popular in the same way the Daily Show became popular. People are sick of news broadcasts that take things too seriously and seem to feed the masses “prepared food” news. Commentators should have their fingers on the pulse and be the mouthpiece for how people really feel.

    I am always amazed at how sheltered the American Media is with its citizens. You only seem to get a 1/4 of the real news around the world and even then, we get more detailed news on what is going on in YOUR country than you do!

    I am in the states once a month and can not believe the difference in your news.

    One:

    The American News – ALL AMERICAN NEWS – is very scare tactic oriented. Sure that sells but it is dangerous and irresponsible.

    Two:

    The medium is the message. Boy is that ever true now a day. We still shake our heads at what is “reported” and what is actually true. If you want to talk about spin… I can’t even begin to list how many stories, or lack of stories, have been edited to ensure the “message” is received as intended. The worst is it seems one news station started and like dominos they all followed.

    Three:

    There is more to the world than US soil. Yes you are a great county, but has anyone – I mean the news – ever stopped to analyze WHY many countries hate the US? Now that would be educational since the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. I promise many Americans would be appalled and furious at what is done abroad in their name.

    We love the Daily show because it gives us hope that America has not completely gone to hell in a hand basket.

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it best… Americans are loved around the world for your spirit and generosity (because it is great when you really want to do good) but most who are not exposed to your news can not understand why Americans just don’t get it. If they were to see American news they would understand that you are not “getting it” from your news sources.

    Thank god for the Daily show and BLOGS.

    Clair

  29. “Again, there is no value-free, philosophy-free realm where we can step out of the spin and consider what is “best” for anyone. If you want to embrace the idea that there is a value-free, non-socially-constructed arena where these issues can be considered, then I would love to see the standards that you’re going to be applying in that arena. My guess is that those standards are simply not going to be as evident to all of us as they are to you.”

    Brilliant point. Maybe this is what Carlson was getting out by starting the interview asking Stewart to define himself and to make a determination of “Best”, something he was clearly uncomfortable addressing. Stewart ended up proving your point, that “best” is an irrelevant term, and that what we can really talk about is the result of the process. If this is what Carlson was getting at, he did so deftly: Stewart came to lecture them on the evils of partisan discourse (i.e. process) even though he actually accepts the results of this process himself with enough certitude to endorse the democratic candidate – not because he’s the “best” candidate, but because he is the result of the process.

  30. Daniel- It’s clear that Jon Stewart is an idealist (we need those) but ultimately he has to work with what he’s got. Simply b/c he’s able to choose the lesser of two evils (Kerry) doesn’t necessarily constitute enthusiastic support for the result of a poor process. From watching the Daily Show I’d guess Jon is more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry. In fact, he is often ruthless with the Democrats for struggling with a campaign that should be as simple as shooting fish in a barrel (hello- the guy took a nation to war on misinformation. No need to debate Bush’s intentions, that fact alone is sufficient for new leadership, and this coming from a soldier that did his time in Iraq).

    I dig the high brow discourse of many of the previous commentators, but I gotta say I liked “Clair the Canadian’s” points the best.

    Jon Stewart’s criticism is strong. This country needs a good honest source for debate and discussion. More discussion than debate tho’ (debate is often too competitive and points can get muddled by desires to “win”).

    Barlow’s point (I think) is the problem with the “good” and “honest” part. That’s why discussion is necessary, not regurgitated spin that is typically judged by how wittily one guy can burn the other on prime time. It’s childish, not critical thought.

    Lastly, to say that Jon Stewart’s career will be enhanced by his boldness on TV, I think is a cheap shot, but if that were the worst of it, then I wish more would do the same. Imagine what media would be like if boldness like that was celebrated. We need a bold media, in fact, we depend on it.

  31. Well, after having a weekend to mull it over, you’d think that Crossfire might try to respond the the ISSUES raised by Stewart last week. Instead, they posted two viewer e-mails: one of which insulted Stewart personally and the other which praised Crossfire for allowing him to speak (even though he’s a pompous jerk, presumably).

    But what about responding to Stewart’s direct criticism of Crossfire’s pseudo debate format?

    NOTHING!

    Apparently Stewart cut too close to the bone for Crossfire to respond even when they had a weekend to prepare something.

    You can call that capitulation by neglect.

  32. I love Jon Stewart! Even in his brutal honesty and fiery indictment of partisan political talkshows his razor sharp wit and humor still poured out.

    Tucker Carlson came off as defensive, immature, and angry.. especially when Jon Stewart was not being way he wanted him to be.

    Stewart’s comments about Spin Alley were dead on. After watching the debates and watching BOTH sides give praise to their candidates when they clearly screwed up in some situations was painful. Especially Karen Hughes. ugh.

    I hope Jon Stewart, and his new book will blow up after all this. I’m planning on getting a copy myself now.

  33. Murrow_Fan wrote:

    “Daniel- It’s clear that Jon Stewart is an idealist (we need those) but ultimately he has to work with what he’s got. Simply b/c he’s able to choose the lesser of two evils (Kerry) doesn’t necessarily constitute enthusiastic support for the result of a poor process. From watching the Daily Show I’d guess Jon is more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry. In fact, he is often ruthless with the Democrats for struggling with a campaign that should be as simple as shooting fish in a barrel (hello- the guy took a nation to war on misinformation. No need to debate Bush’s intentions, that fact alone is sufficient for new leadership, and this coming from a soldier that did his time in Iraq).”

    Murrow_Fan, wouldn’t that make Stewart a realist rather than an idealist? An idealist would say “I’m not going to vote for a candidate from the two-party monopoly because that just perpetuates the same chronic problems with our politics.” Choosing a candidate simply because he’s the most likely to defeat a candidate you want to lose is not idealism. Even more, Stewart is a celebrity. Celebrity liberalism in practice usuallly gets watered down to an impotent support of the Democratic party (which itself is just a vehicle for compromised liberal ideals).

    While I respect your service to our country and am humbled by it, I don’t think the case against war is a open and shut as you say. In fact most of the misinformation that I’m hearing from sources like NPR, The AP, Reuters and the New York Times is distortions of the actual case for war made by Bush. That’s just my opinion.

    The whole point about Stewart’s definition of “Best” was not about idealism and whether or not he would support the candidate he thought was the best. Barlow’s point, as I understood it, was that either way, it’s still one man’s interpretation of “Best”. And that is the problem with the myth of the one truth existing outside of subjective politics that Stewart is espousing. There’s no such thing as objective political opinion. All we can hope for is to generate differing degrees of national political consensus through process – a Hegelian dialectic.

    Facts, political or scientific, don’t exist for us outside of the context of personal understanding/interpretation. The second we come to recognize a reality, a type of spin occurs which is that that ‘reality’ is filtered through the personal and very subjective worldview of a human being. Consciousness is spin. All we can hope for is to eliminate the most shameless, disengenuous spin – the situations where people are saying things that they don’t actually believe. In that regard, Bush is the only truly authentic candidate of the two, say what you will of his policies and actions. As a generality, Kerry is the “nuanced” candidate. The one who wants to be all things to all people. He plays to a liberal base, but he opposes gay marriage, hunts animals, bluffs a hawkish foregin policy, etc. Yet Stewart endorses this candidate. I just don’t think that at the end of the day there’s anything anti-establishment about Stewart. As a result of his success, he’s very much an establishment guy, like Bill Maher before him, who wants us to think he’s the rare independent voice in the mainstream.

  34. It’s the Comedy, Stupid.

    Damien Cave of the NY Times asks if Jon Stewart is being coy by claiming that because The Daily Show is a comedy show that he’s not required to take on politicians with hard questions.

    “Whether he likes it or not, Mr. Stewart’s mix of news and satire has become so successful that the comedian is suddenly being criticized for not questioning his guests with Tim Russert-like intensity.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/24/weekinreview/24cave.html

    Cave notes that “some critics” charge that the size of Stewart’s audience should force Stewart to change his soft-peddling ways, given the responsibility that comes with such a large audience. After all, many of his viewers don’t watch the news. Stewart needs to step up to the plate and make sure that his comedy show doesn’t leave his audience in a lurk when it comes to hard hitting and balanced news coverage.

    Cave’s point, and the point to his article, is stupid. It’s stupid to suggest that Stewart is bound by any journalistic creed. Stewart is a comedian. He is not a journalist. Journalists aren’t supposed to be comedians, and comedians aren’t journalists.

    Stewart is an entertainer. His job is to get people to watch his show by making them laugh. He also gets a larger audience by getting attention for the show. Stewart builds his audience by getting attention from big guests and by promoting the show through the news media. Since there is no pretense to be doing anything other than this, Stewart is not bound by any journalistic standards.

    Cave, and the media critics in his article, missed Stewart’s Crossfire point. Rather than ask why doesn’t Stewart-the-comedian act like a journalist, they should be asking why hell did Crossfire have a comedian on its show in the first place. And if Crossfire is just theater, then why does Cave and others treat it like journalism? This was Stewart’s point, and it was a good enough point to draw 1.7 million to hear it on the Crossfire clip. Just because it’s funny to note how stupid the media has become, doesn’t mean that Stewart should start being being a journalist. That would just be stupid – not funny.

  35. Wow. I mean, wow.

    What I found chilling was how the theater continued even as he was pointing to it. Like in Wizard of Oz (movie), if Dorothy continued to talk to the big head after having the man behind the curtain pointed out to her. Stewart is saying, “Stop” and the actors are still saying their lines.

  36. I know its WAY passed when this was discussed, but I found it and read it, and its interesting that it is now Jan 2005 and CNN has ended Crossfire, and the head of CNN AGREE’s with John Stewart’s perpective.

    Sorry for the Time Warp effect..

  37. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this clip before. I thought I was well informed, but apparently not. Jon Stewart forced real debate on the “Crossfire” crew and they were not up to the verbal sparring.

    Why? We must ask. Well, the truth appears to be that the dog caught his tail and Tucker realized that he actually was engaged in a stylized dance replayed over and over with different parterns but the same result. When he asked/told Stewart to be funny, he let the cat out of the bag regarding the true nature of the show and its power.

    I wonder why he believes Kerry would not appear on “Crossfire”? Is it possible that Kerry already knew what Stewart espoused, or did Kerry just appear on the “Daily Show” for its numbers. I believe it was probably a little from column A and a lot from column B, but it demonstrates the effect of both programs.

    One last question. Tucker, would you not have lobbed softies at Kerry for being on your show with the hope that he would come back someday? Come on, be honest…

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