If you haven’t seen the clip of Jon Stewart appearing on Crossfire, you can find links to download it here. I wanted to comment on something Jon Stewart said, which I think reveals a lot about the differences between him and other news sources (and even if he denies it, that is what he is):
The hosts try to corner him on which candidate would be a funnier president, this is how he responds:
BEGALA: But who would you provide you better material, do you suppose?
STEWART: I don’t really know. That’s kind of not how we look at it. We look at, the absurdity of the system provides us the most material. And that is best served by sort of the theater of it all, you know, which, by the way, thank you both, because it’s been helpful.
This was exactly the point of Kevin Collins’ review of The Daily Show:
In other words, while other comedians base their humor on the dominant campaign narratives, Stewart earns laughs by satirizing these stereotypes.
These narratives too often serve as the prisms through which media view and report campaign news, as in 2000 when the themes were “Bush the Dunce” and “Gore the Liar,” both of which were misleading. And thus, by deconstructing these narratives rather than operating within them, The Daily Show prepares its viewers to critically evaluate campaign reporting — better, even, than other cable news outlets.
Second, the journalistic ideal of balance, while noble, too often gets in the way of truthfully reporting a story. Framing news in terms of two supposedly equal but opposing viewpoints ignores the reality that the facts are not always balanced between parties, and thus legitimizes factually inaccurate opinions. Daily Show “correspondent” Rob Corddry’s satiric definition of a reporter’s role makes these problems clear: “My job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other.” Instead of repeating each side’s claims, mainstream media need to start reporting the reality.