I am Jon Stewart’s bitch.

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.

23 thoughts on “I am Jon Stewart’s bitch.

  1. Bread-n-circus.  Isn’t that how Roma fell behind the times ?

    I, too, saw JStewart on CrossFire(CF).  He was excellent, and justified in all his jabbing.  I almost emailed CF pleading with them to hire the brilliant clown that he is as a permanent host.  I especially liked him laying into TuckerTwistedTooTightly about CF being more about acting than a serious debate of the issues.  (IMO, most contemporary Americans have lost their ability to stomach debates out of an uneducated inability to distinguish between rhetoric of another’s argument and their position’s reasoning—which is just a tad vital to the whole process, never mind to democracy or our wider forum of discourse.)

    As to the DailyShow becoming standard news for the under-40 crowd—and i, too, watch the show religiously—- i’m extremely worried about this.

    I think this is yet another symptom of Western culture’s addiction to the Fun!Fun!MoreFunDammit! mentality.  Sometimes, despite what SesameStreet or the ElectricCompany had us believe, edification and staying on top of things isn’t always fun, but is a serious, methodic process.  The NewsHour on PBS, which i implore all of you to watch here in the pre-ChristianCoup America/NewGilead.  It’s truly excellent and fairly indepth—but decidedly not as fun as a video game, comedy, movie, or the DailyShow.  And it doesn’t have pretty graphics or lots of bells and whistles to catch your eye when the content fails to adequately stimulate your more base desires.  Matter of fact, it’s pretty dry, not necessarily interesting to look at—but extremely informative.  One need not, however, solely rely upon the NewsHour for current event edification.  There are tons of other, alternative, truly content-rich sources like the BBC, or a whole slew of printed publications (e.g., the Economist), never mind the Internet (and the Onion doesn’t count, sorry).

    It’s important to remember that non-emotional, non-partisan news is not about being fun, lest we forget in this present generation of too much bread and too much circus.

    rob@egoz.org

  2. I’m a huge fan of the daily show and it provides much needed relief from the bullshit purported by major news organizations these days.  Jon Stewart realizes his role as comic presenter of the news and has no aspirations of taking on a ‘hardball-esque’ role.  He just wants people to do their damn jobs for a change.

    As to the DailyShow becoming standard news for the under-40 crowd—and i, too, watch the show religiously—- i’m extremely worried about this.

    Unlike .rob, I don’t find this in the least bit troubling.  First off, as the data indicates, the viewers that are tuning into the show are educated enough to appreciate it for what it is.  Secondly, in order for the ‘Daily Show’ to be truly funny it is necessary to have gained a fundamental understanding of the news from some other source.

    If I’m ever elected president I would have someone such as Stewart drop by my cabinet meetings at least once a month just to ask the question: What the fuck are you people thinking?

  3. I watch TDS religiously because I’m so depressed about the way most of the world is going (ESPECIALLY this country) these days, that the only way I can stomach the news is with an incisive, ironic comedy chaser. 

    I love Jon Stewart so much that I’m planning to offer to let his little boy “bang” either one of my daughters—his choice.  grin

    (By the way, I believe it’s Robert Novak that JS refers to as the “Douchebag of Justice” for his outing of Valerie Plame.)

  4. Ha! We were driving today, and my wife said that Jon Stewart is her new crush. I said, “Me too. If he’d have me, I’d dump you and have his babies.”

    I read the transcript of the interview. I loved it when Carlson kept trying to pin Stewart down on why he tossed softball questions to Kerry, like it was TDS’s responsibility to do a serious interview. My favorite part:

    “You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you’re accusing us of partisan hackery?” Carlson shouted.

    “Absolutely,” Stewart said calmly. You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you!”

  5. As far as the stats about Daily Show viewers. I thought this was even more telling:

    Comedy Central also touted a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey, which said young viewers of “The Daily Show” were more likely to answer questions about politics correctly than those who don’t.

    It strengthens deadscott’s argument about the trend not being too troubling. Now, we all know that it’s not because they get all the answers there, just that they went in with more knowledge. I’m not sure I make any sense except to myself. grin

  6. Wow. I’m going to buy his book and set up a little shrine in my hallway.

    He made them look completely impotent while only expending about as much effort as he would if he was using his finger to trace felt alphabet cards in kindergarten.

    If they were half what they so failingly attempted to claim they were, they should have had the skills to completely disarm him.

    Fantastic.

  7. He deserves a medal for that performance.

    The sad part of the whole episode was that niether one of them even understood what he was getting at.  They’ve been wrapped up in their insular little club for so long that they honestly believe that a debate consists of four partisan hacks flinging talking points at each other.

    Crossfire: CNN’s Primate Habitat

  8. I LOVE that little clip at the beginning of the version I got through Bit Torrent where JS calls the questions asked by Regis and Kelly of John Kerry, “Nerf Crossfire.” I still chuckle after seeing it a few times.

  9. Mr. Fish and I watched the clip with abject glee.  I hate to say it, but my favorite part was when Jon called Tucker Carlson a dick.  What can I say, I’m a simple girl at heart. *grin*

  10. I suspect that the reason that TDS viewers are so much better informed than Fox viewers is that the TDS audience isn’t getting the majority of their news from TV.  A lot of the writing on the Daily Show seems informed by newspaper stories and (non-freeper) blogs.  I’d never even seen Tucker Carlson before this clip, but I felt like I’d spent many tedious dinners in his company, thanks to Bob Somerby’s Daily Howler.  As for Crossfire, what a corrupt format, and what lazy-ass talking heads!  If that Begala guy mentioned the inherit lovableness of W one more time (and he’s the liberal???) I thought I’d self-immolate.  And Rob, I think you have a really good point— Those guys don’t see what’s wrong with their little circus at all.  Tucker’s comment to Stewart, “Maybe you should go to journalism school!” was just ghastly in its non-comprehension of Carlson’s own role in the trivialization of the public discourse. 

    Jon Stewart IS a hero for standing up on his hind legs and slapping these little piss-ants down, but he shouldn’t have to be.  They shouldn’t have this sort of public forum in the first place.
    Just my 2cents.

  11. I remember my first encounter with CNN on European cable. At first, I was excited – a 24h news channel, how cool! Pretty soon I realized that compared to the state-run news, CNN was pretty much free of information. Pretty or ugly pictures, but otherwise useless.

    After moving to the US, I was soon underwhelmed by the US media. If you care to know what’s happening in the world, you’re better off scouring the news abroad and compare. Once you know who is biased how, it’s often no big deal to interpolate what really happened.

    Here’s something from my quote database, US reporting on a single event:

    Pope offers qualified praise of capitalism
    CHICAGO TRIBUNE, May 3

    Pope assails capitalist evils
    CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, May 3

    Free market gets Pope’s blessing
    WASHINGTON TIMES, May 3

    Pope warns against godless capitalism
    THE WASHINGTON POST, May 3

    I’m not saying that this only happens in the US, but come on.

  12. The really sad thing is that Tucker encapsulated everything that Jon was trying to point out when he said, “This is boring,” and tried to change the subject back to candidate-bashing.  In other words, he was saying, “Have a serious debate about the journalistic quality of our show and our responsibilities to our viewers?  How boring.  Let’s get back to the pro wrestling.  Let’s bash the candidates some more.”

    And he was clearly offended and struggling—he takes himself so seriously (as Jon pointed out with the bow-tie comment!).  Begala simply seemed to be both flustered and game at the same time.

  13. If I’m ever elected president I would have someone such as Stewart drop by my cabinet meetings at least once a month just to ask the question: What the fuck are you people thinking?

    All the more reason to run DeadScot for President!

    Anyone want to help for the exploratory committee? We could go spurlunking into the depths of the Bush [mis]Administration’s absurdity for practice smile

    Mac:

    I hate to say it, but my favorite part was when Jon called Tucker Carlson a dick.  What can I say, I’m a simple girl at heart. *grin*

    I <HEART> that line… hey! Maybe we should all complain to the FCC that CNN allowed such vulgarity on their theatre … er … news shows wink

    Hell JS OWNED Tucker … the tie comment was such a beautiful backhanded compliment … Stewart deserves a medal for entering Crossfire and somehow making them shoot themselves in both feet, an eye, hand, and maybe spleen

    My Firstborn Boy will be John Stewart Hoke LOL!

  14. I have been a passing fan of Jon Stewart’s for years, but not a really rabid one.

    I don’t watch much news for that matter, because I find most of it nauseating in the extreme.

    Everytime I’ve seen Stewart in recent years, although I must give him kudos for being funny, he’s also been extraordinarily intelligent and LUCID!!

    I’ve read the transcript and watched the segment, and to be honest, this would have been the only reason I would watch Crossfire, because I find those two cats disgusting.

    Like Bill O’Reilley (himself embroiled in drama) I find all these claims of journalism to be offensive, since I have been a journalist for 12 years.

    What struck me most about this confrontation between Stewart and Crossfire ‘hacks’, was Carlson’s derision and arrogance. He didn’t even have the soul to be ashamed, although I did see what appeared to be the gleam of sweat on his face.

    Anyway, I found your blog today for the first time, and I suspect I’m going to become a regular reader.

    I appreciate your voice, and have posted about this whole Stewart thing in my own blog.

    Your comments above regarding the American political system and method of governance to be quite astute. However, I feel I must point out it’s true about most countries these days. The only difference with the American ‘Way’, is that there is far more ignorance in the general populace, and far more nefarious and wide reaching action capable by the American government on a global scale.

  15. Oh I agree completely. Politics has always seemed to be a mix of absurdities throughout history. I just wish our system were a bit less so.

  16. Damned if Jon Stewart doesn’t make me spontaneously ovulate!

    Wish SBS in Oz would put The Daily Show back on soon *whimpers and pats weblink to Daily Show site*

  17. Blog more timely than print media. The TV section of Today’s New Times carried an article about Stewart’s Crossfire appearance. The article covered many of the same points posted in this thread – many of them stated by Les. Unlike several here, the author did not not express a desire to have Jon’s children, shortsighted.

  18. If we can trust Electra Manikakis then SBS will no longer be airing the (Weekly) Daily Show here in Oz because of costs.

    (whimpers)

  19. Well, of course, I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve loved Jon since her first came to the show, still watching from it’s Craig Kilborn days. Anyway, Jon is the man, and he was just pleading with these people, desperately pleading and they wouldn’t even hear him. It makes me so very sad.

  20. I saw the show and I must say that I was stunned. Jon Stewart was apparently expected to be the “monkey” of the show, but that was not his plans. He knew that someone had to come and seriously talk to these 2. Carson was really a dick and Jon used the right word there. What stroke me was that CNN was comparing itself to Comedy Central. This is really scary I must say. They don’t even know what their reponsibilities are towarts the people. What make me laugh was that everyone thought he was joking in the beginning. Then Begala understood that Jon was serious and he knew that he could not fight back so he shut up. Carson was stupid to think that he could distabilize Jon. BIG MISTAKE….

    I am a big fan of Jon and even more since his appearences on Crossfire and TOF… He is honest and tells what he thinks and has the guts to confront them and never gets distabilized. This is the proof that he is Lucid, very intelligent and responsible. HE understood what we need from the media. I hope we will enjoy his performances for many years to come.

    GO FOR IT JON. YOU ARE THE BEST.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.