Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My Obligatory 'Daily Show' Rant

I was watching the Daily Show last night (it was actually Monday's show since I PVR them and watch them in batches throughout the week) when, once again, the level of hypocrisy displayed nearly made me gag.

Sure, I know that Jon Stewart is hopelessly left leaning (although he often tries to pretend to be a centrist) and I know many of the 'news' stories will be anti-conservative with no more fact checking than is used by such paragons of reporting as The Enquirer or The Star, but sometimes a joke is just a joke and there is a lot of humour in the show.

On a side note: even though they are an admitted 'fake' news show, I'm sure Stewart, as well as everyone one staff, know that when they report something it is generally accepted as fact unless specifically stated otherwise. Especially when he prefixes the story with "and we're not making this up...". My problem with this is that they often take extremely bias, completely unsubstantiated and more likely than not, anti-conservative story and report it as truth. In a normal media outlet they would have all been fired long ago but using the cover of 'fake' news they are all perfectcovered from any responsibility.

But back the my problem with Monday's show in particular. This kind of relates back to his Crossfire battle of a few months ago where he, as a guest on the show, made issue with the fact they basically have political pundits on to spout the left or right talking points of the day with no real debate or benefit to the viewer. While this is often true of most political talk shows, and something I wish more interviewers would challenge their guests on, Stewart actually appeared angry with their lack of real discourse and accused them of "hurting America". When challenged on some of the questions he asked his guests Stewart reverted back to the "but we're just a fake news show" to duck out of any responsibility (I'm paraphrasing here).

My problem with this whole idea is this, when you have a celebrity on to talk about their latest endeavour, sure the interview should be light, but when you have a political guest on, which is often the case of the Daily show, and he/she begins spouting the same 'talking points' from the other shows, your role as interviewer is different. You don't need to harass your guest, but at least challenge them to explain their statements. Otherwise, you are just as guilty as Crossfire or any of the numerous political talk shows in "hurting America" and the democratic process. Just because you tell jokes doesn't give you a free ride. Bush tell jokes (usually prettycorny) so why does he get a pass from the Left?

Anyway, back to Monday. His guest was Robert Reich (just view his written works to guess his political slant). When questioned about the lack of direction of the current Democratic party Reich gave the standard 'talking points' answer about health care and education. This is the exact thing Stewart complain about on all the other shows but sits there and accepts on his own. Saying your party want to improve health care and education is not a direction, its a platitude. Unless, the opposition has declared they want to destroy health care and education. A direction is "we want to improve health care by doing A), B) and C). Direction requires a plan with real objectives not just grand ideas that everyone in their right mind agrees with. Although I will give him credit for admitting the Dems have absolutely no plan for social security but to say no to whatever the Repubs offer up. Of course, he then loses it by stating, like every other Dem pundit, there is no Social Security problem and it's all just a big charade put on by republicans to scare voters.

I personally have a problem with "talking heads" on all sides of politics but I have more of a problem when they are given national exposure to flaunt their ideas with absolutely no challenge. I'm not saying I expect Jon Stewart to attack his guests during an interview, but I would like to see a little bit more of a discussion versus the just giving them a podium to stand on, unless, of course, they are coming on to talk about non-political issues like say a recent memoir or a recent world event (for example the Tsunami).

Honestly, I have the same problem with guest on shows like Oprah who are permitted to tell a very bias one sided story without any challenge even when all the facts point in the exact opposite direction.

Basically my view all comes down to the immortal words of Stan Lee, "With great power comes great responsibility".

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