Threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen. -George Orwell

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


National Review's Jim Geraghty and Radio America's Greg Corombos discuss current events. Today's topics: NBC finally takes the Brian Williams fiasco seriously, the Obama administration stumbles over the president's random remark, and assessing the impact of Jon Stewart.

What Really Ails The Daily Show
The Daily Show was probably ultimately harmed by fans and public intellectuals declaring that Stewart was the Walter Cronkite of his generation, or that the program represented some of the most important and consequential "real journalism" of the Bush era, and other hyperbolic salutes to its alleged real-world consequences. Comedy is hard; it's nearly impossible if you're simultaneously trying to make a Grand Statement About the World and How Things Ought to Be.
A lot of the blame can be laid at the viewers who concluded that the Daily Show represented actual news, and not a satire of news, and that watching comedians joke about what was going on in the world was enough to stay informed about what was going on in the world.
When reviewing Aaron Sorkin's HBO program The Newsroom, Jake Tapper wrote, "At a time when Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, it's telling that [protagonist Will] McAvoy and Sorkin aim their sights at conservatives seeking power - not moderates and liberals wielding it." Satirists reveal a lot about themselves in their choice of targets, and in the eyes of the Daily Show crew, the biggest menace in American life came not from lawmakers with their official authorities, massive budgets and temptations of power but by those who appeared on cable news to critique them – a particularly strange target for a cable-based comedy show.
"Look at what this Fox News host, guest, or contributor said!" became an increasingly tedious crutch, probably because it was such an easy target.
In Obama's second term, Stewart's late segment pivot from "can you believe what the Obama administration did?" to "can you believe what the hosts on Fox News said about this?" was predictable and a bit of a comforting dodge for his audience. It was the comedic equivalent of the "but aren't Republicans in danger of overreaching?" narrative-shift that pops up with irritating frequency during Democratic scandals or embarrassments.
Secondly, for a program that allegedly was one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful and important satirical voice in America today, it sure as heck had no problem punching down. God help you if you're some no-name Tucson school board member taking a stance the producers of the show find laughable. If you're an Idaho pastor claiming evangelical Christians are bullied by the culture at large, don't worry, a Daily Show correspondent will fly out to Boise to showcase you to the world. Washington Redskins fans who wanted to keep their team's name were asked, without warning, to justify the name to angry Native Americans on camera. Are these really the Americans most deserving of nationally-televised on-camera rebuke and humiliation?
One has to wonder if Stewart found doing the show enjoyable as it wore on. Those featured segments got awfully formulaic: Someone in the Republican realm would get caught in a scandal or saying something stupid; Stewart would stare at the camera in wide-eyed disbelief; tap his pencil in barely-contained incredulity or irritation, and then bellow out, "What the [BLEEP] is wrong with you?!" or some other outburst that inevitably generated audience applause.
Every segment was destined to generate blog posts from liberals declaring the show had DESTROYED or DEMOLISHED the target of mockery. When you control what the audience sees of your opponent's argument, and are given ample time to give an uninterrupted counter-argument before a live audience that adores you, there's really no excuse for not demolishing or destroying the opponent, no? At least when you're shooting fish in a barrel, the fish have a little bit of room to swim around...
Also read:

Brian Williams Debacle Yet Another Reminder: Elite Media Despises Its Customers

Where Does Brian Williams Resurface Next?

 photo cd6c519f-715c-41cd-a05c-eccc1240e5c8_zpsbyjrebfh.jpg

No comments:

Post a Comment