And after watching him slam the butt-kissers on Crossfire, I want to have his baby. Jon Stewart’s fake news show—The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central—has been getting a lot of attention from many of the “real” news programs out there because there’s a rising trend of people like myself turning to The Daily Show for our news instead of the traditional news media. This all came to head for a couple of different shows when Senator John Kerry opted to make an appearance on The Daily Show after refusing to appear on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor and CNN’s Crossfire. Obviously The Daily Show is gaining prominence when major political figures will choose to go on it rather than the traditional news programs so the question the “real” news programs want to know the answer to is: Why? Why are people turning to a comedy show on a comedy channel for their news commentary as opposed to the tons of “legitimate” news programs out there?
I can’t speak for any of the other TDS fans, but in my case I watch because, in addition to being laugh-my-fucking-ass-off funny, it’s also the most honest news program on the air. Seriously. The whole point of TDS is they look at the news and they point out the absurdities in it. Our system of government and the American political process is just rife with stuff that is simply absurd and the only people saying it like it is are the folks on The Daily Show. And the man most responsible for TDS being a great show is Jon Stewart largely because he has the same problem with the “legitimate” news sources that his fans do: They’re part of the problem, not the solution. He has regularly trashed Bill O’Reilly and The O’Reilly Factor—I believe he’s the first to put the word ‘douchebag’ in Bill’s name—and he slams Crossfire on a regular basis. This didn’t stop him from making an appearance on both of these shows when they suddenly realized that TDS was drawing people for more than its comedy. During his appearance on the O’Reilly Factor he discussed with O’Reilly the fact that TDS is, at its heart, a comedy show, but what O’Reilly wanted to know was why John Kerry would go on TDS and not TOF when the majority of people who watch The Daily Show were, in Bill’s words, “stoned slackers.” Ironically, this caused Comedy Central to take a look into who exactly makes up the audience of The Daily Show and they found that “viewers of Jon Stewart’s show are more likely to have completed four years of college than people who watch “The O’Reilly Factor,” according to Nielsen Media Research.”
Now ain’t that a kick in the ass? Which brings us to Jon’s appearance on Crossfire last Friday. Jon didn’t go on the show and slip into his congenial host act that he uses for TDS. Instead Jon went on the show as himself and as Salon.com’s Charles Taylor points out tells the hosts of the show why he’s so critical of it:
“I think you’re a lot more fun on your show,” said Tucker Carlson to “Crossfire” guest Jon Stewart this afternoon. “And I think you’re as much of a dick on your show as on any other,” Stewart shot back. It wasn’t the faux avuncularity we’ve come to expect from Stewart on “The Daily Show” but there, of course, he’s playing a role. Here he was himself—and he wasn’t buying any of it.
From the moment Stewart sat down he made no secret of how repugnant he found the show. In fact, he said to Carlson and co-host Paul Begala that he had been so hard on the show he felt it was his duty to come on and say to their faces what he has said to friends and in interviews. What he said was that their show was “hurting America,” and he was being only slightly hyperbolic. Stewart told them that when America needed journalists to be journalists they had instead chosen to present theater.
Carlson, trying to affect an air of dry amusement that a comedian would presume to lecture him, important pundit that he is, but looking as if his bow-tie were about to start spinning, could barely contain his outrage. In an absolutely mind-boggling moment, Carlson tried to counter Stewart’s criticism by pointing out that during John Kerry’s recent appearance on “The Daily Show,” Stewart asked the candidate softball questions. “If you want to measure yourself against a comedy show,” Stewart said, “be my guest.”
There, that bit I highlighted at the end? That’s why I’m Jon Stewart’s bitch. The truth is, though, that he didn’t go on there only to slam the show. He went on to try and tell them why he thinks the show is failing the American public and how he thinks the show could be a great service if it took its role more responsibly. The sad thing is that the hosts didn’t want to hear it and were incensed that Jon would dare to criticize them. And this is why I watch The Daily Show and I don’t watch Crossfire. Jon gets it whereas the other morons don’t.
If you haven’t seen this segment then you really should. There are copies of it floating around in various formats that are available from a number of sources. If you use Bittorrent you can grab a copy from here and here. If you don’t know what the hell Bittorrent is then you can see the clip over at IFilm in streaming format. The amazing thing about the segment is that not only does Jon tell these guys why they suck, but he still manages to be uproariously funny while doing it.