Jon Stewart’s audition for MSNBC?

The idiocy of the Fox/MSNBC bias divide and just, well, the idiocy of CNN have made watching the 24-hour news nets pretty painful nearly all of the last year of the campaign season. I don’t want touch screens, screaming heads, non-issues being issues.

In fact, the thing that worries me most about this McCain push off on the debates is that it is yet another thing in the line of Bristol’s, Hussein’s, and Rev. Wright’s that will prevent media from, you know, covering the issues.

Like many folks my age, I’m a big Stewart/Daily Show fan. Although I’m not going to be a first time voter this fall, most folks who will be probably fall into the camp of Stewart (and likely Colbert). The population of watchers is pretty lined up with Obama supporters (although not entirely).

I was thinking earlier this week about an old piece about the two of them in Rolling Stone by Maureen Dowd of the NYT. The following part of the interview really stood out to me:

So it’s impossible to go too far?

STEWART: No, too far is different for every person. I would hope that my sense of humanity prevents me from saying things that are exploitative or so denigrating and derogatory as to be offensive. But I don’t understand how anyone can consider jokes about this stuff worse than the reality of it. We’re not out to provoke. We’re not out to shock. There is no joy in stepping over a line. I don’t think there’s any way to possibly offend in a comedic sense when reality has such a desperate foundation to it.

I’ve always like Stewart because he didn’t show his bias against the conservatives. He had a bias against idiocy. Recently, though, Stewart has been letting it show a little. You can tell that the Sarah Palin selection really insults him. And, in last Thursday’s episode, he really laid into former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Daily Show has gotten by on its admitted faux-self-importance-type coverage. This is how Stewart’s interviews have always been. An act of unknowingness backed up by a subdued, yet high, level of intelligence. What’s the point in grilling Blair on his personal relationship with W? It’s the wrong crowd and, if you watch closely, there’s a clear tone switch during which even the audience checked out.

Stewart is not going to stop having political leaders, especially during the next six weeks. I’m just intrigued to see if he can go back to dancing on the line instead of stepping over it.

America’s Anchors [Rolling Stone, October 2006]
Daily Show [September 18th, 2008, Tony Blair]


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