Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Readers, This is the Kind of Stuff I Count on You to Catch

While I'm out taking back the country . . . .

I had heard about Jon Strewarts ball-busting turn on Crossfire - but I haven't seen it yet. And you KNOW it's something that would be, like, so me to comment on. I heard it's online - I'll try to find it tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a link to an NYT article on the show (seems pretty uniformative, but whatever). Anyone who saw Crossfire, or has a comment on Stewart's appearance - please comment below and catch me up. (if there are 0 comments there for too long, i'll be real, real bummed. no one wants a bummed blogger, do they?)

Please don't stop reading. I'll be back soon - at the very least, in 13 days. (Uh, 14, there will be some recovery time, I'm sure).

1 comment:

cd said...

Readers, This is the Kind of Stuff I Count on You to Catch


On : 10/20/2004 10:03:28 PM cd (www) said:

October 20, 2004
No Jokes or Spin. It's Time (Gasp) to Talk.

There is nothing more painful than watching a comedian turn self-righteous. Unless of course, the comedian is lashing out at smug and self-serving television-news personalities. Jon Stewart could not resist a last dig at CNN's "Crossfire" during his monologue on Comedy Central on Monday night . "They said I wasn't being funny," the star of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" said, rolling his eyes expressively. "And I said to them: 'I know that. But tomorrow I will go back to being funny," Mr. Stewart said, adding that their show would still be bad, although he used a more vulgar expression.

And that is why his surprise attack on the hosts of CNN's "Crossfire" was so satisfying last Friday. Exchanging his usual goofy teasing for withering contempt, he told Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that they were partisan hacks and that their pro-wrestling approach to political discourse was "hurting America." (He also used an epithet for the male reproductive organ to describe Mr. Carlson.)

Real anger is as rare on television as real discussion. Presidential candidates no longer address each other directly in debates. Guests on the "Tonight" show or "Oprah" are scripted monologuists who pitch their latest projects and humor the host. It has been decades since talk-show guests conversed with one another, yet there was a time when famous people held long and at times legendarily hostile discussions (Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. on ABC in 1968, Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1980).

Nowadays, live television meltdowns seem to be pathological, not political - Janet Jackson baring a breast during the Super Bowl or Farrah Fawcett babbling incoherently to David Letterman.

The fuming partisan rants on Fox News or "Real Time With Bill Maher" are aimed at the converted. And celebrities, like politicians, stay on message and stick to talking points, which may help explain the popularity of "Celebrity Poker" - it gives viewers a rare, unfiltered glimpse of stars' real personalities as they handle a bad hand or a humiliating bluff.

Mr. Stewart's frankness was a cool, startling, rational version of Senator Zell Miller's loony excoriation ("Get out of my face") to Chris Matthews of MSNBC during the Republican convention.

The transcript of Friday's "Crossfire," and the blog commentary about it, popped up all over the Internet this weekend. Mr. Stewart's Howard Beal (of "Network") outburst stood out because he said what a lot of viewers feel helpless to correct: that news programs, particularly on cable, have become echo chambers for political attacks, amplifying the noise instead of parsing the misinformation. Whether the issue is Swift boat ads or Bill O'Reilly's sexual harassment suit, shows like "Crossfire" or "Hardball" provide gladiator-style infotainment as journalists clownishly seek to amuse or rile viewers, not inform them.

When Mr. Carlson took the offense, charging that Mr. Stewart had no right to complain since he had asked Senator John Kerry softball questions on "The Daily Show," Mr. Stewart looked genuinely appalled. "I didn't realize - and maybe this explains quite a bit - that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity." When Mr. Carlson continued to argue, Mr. Stewart shut him down hard. "You are on CNN," he said. "The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls."

All late-night talk-show hosts make jokes about politicians. What distinguishes Mr. Stewart from Jay Leno and David Letterman is that the Comedy Central star mocks the entire political process, boring in tightly on the lockstep thinking and complacency of the parties and the media as well as the candidates. More than other television analysts and commentators, he and his writers put a spotlight on the inanities and bland hypocrisies that go mostly unnoticed in the average news cycle.

Mr. Stewart is very funny, but it is the vein of "a plague on both your houses" indignation that has made his show a cult favorite: many younger voters are turning to the "The Daily Show" for their news analysis, and are better served there than on much of what purports to be real news on cable.

And of course it was fun just to see television pundits who think they are part of the same media version of the Algonquin Round Table as Mr. Stewart lose their cool when he tore off the tablecloth and shattered the plates. "Wait,'' Mr. Carlson said querulously. "I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny." Mr. Stewart was funny. And it was at their expense.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


On : 10/20/2004 10:15:53 PM Richard (www) said:

Here's the link: Classic. Watch Tucker Carlson get knocked out of his bowtie.


On : 10/21/2004 12:19:45 AM Fred (www) said:

No real comments so here's my 2 cents.
First of all I LOVE Jon Stewart ...
However I actually agreed with what Tucker had to say after the show. He likened Stewart's tirade to being lectured at by a junior college journalism teacher. To paraphrase a former dem VP candidate, Jon Stewart knows comedy but but he's no journalism professor. I don't feel that the self-professed anchor of "fake" news, who admits that he was last person to actually read a newspaper in college, should be the peoples representative for journalistic ethics.
That being said, it was cool to watch him call Tucker a dick.


On : 10/21/2004 4:24:39 AM josh (www) said:

A comedy central salary - 70g's
A trip to be a guest on another show - 100 bucks
Asking the crazy host "How old are you?"
Response "35"
Questioning "Then why are you wearing a bow tie?"

Priceless. And funny as hell.


On : 10/21/2004 7:29:23 AM cd (www) said:

Josh - great comment.

Fred - while in some situations I agree with the sort of analogy tucker uses, here, as a blogger, I think I part ways somewhat. The thing that blogging is helping to highlight is that "journalism" is a self-given title. you make yourself trustworthy or you market the hell out of yourself, but whatever it is, there's no degree that suddenly imbues you with the knowledge, moral fortitude and capacticy for truth necessary to be trusted with the awesome responsibility of dispersing information to the masses.

Stewart self-deprecates all the time, but I am pretty sure he's a smart, well-read, educated cookie who knows his shit. He's as capable of commenting on the news as many people. More than most, frankly.

I say all of this without having watched the clip, of course. Since I am, again, posting inside a closet (no really, it's the only empty router space i can find this morning).

Stewart's fake news is about as real as it comes. The fool is the only one who can tell the truth safely. Especially when there's a king like the one we have on the throne.


On : 10/21/2004 1:02:35 PM Mark Smith (www) said:

I think John Stewart probably makes more than 70 grand. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would guess he's in that top 1% who under Kerry are going to be paying a lot more in taxes so that welfare mom can keep pumping out kids.


On : 10/21/2004 2:49:50 PM timed exposure (www) said:

Stewart may have been the last person in college to have read a newspaper, but at least he graduated from college. Tucker's a drop-out.

Also, Stewart doesn't claim to be a journalist. (Except he probably would as far as fake news is concerned.) The way I see it, Stewart was talking as a concerned citizen who was criticizing the news media in general, and Crossfire in particular. Really, what did he say that most progressives haven't been saying for years now? Most of us just don't have that platform to get our voices heard. It may have been like a junior college journalism teacher, but most of the mainstream media has lost the ethic and integrity that once made it a reliable source. Stewart was right. They are political hacks.


On : 10/21/2004 4:43:48 PM Amanda Levy (www) said:

Mark-Thanks for the comment on the welfare mother pumping out kids..your sensitivity and empathy is a source of inspiration to all those around you (that sounded like a fortune cookie)...I think Jon Stewart might have a few choice words for you...

Tucker is just pissy these days because he's been wearing that lame bowtie for years, and Raj from The Apprentice wears it on a couple of shows and it's now the cool thing...sounds like a big bowl of SOUR GRAPES to me!


On : 10/25/2004 12:05:44 PM Bethany (www) said:

Mandy, Perhaps we sould resurect Corin's old costume.

Mark, I hope someday when some tragedy befalls you or a family memeber (and I have no doubt that someday it will, because disaster is democratic with a little d, it affects all of us despite race, religion, and economic status) that you find yourself dependent on a government program that you counseled your boss to vote against at some point. Humility, despite its unpopularity in teh Republican party, is a beautiful thing.