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The fantasy of being the Roger Ailes of veracity is not collective — it's his and his alone.
September 15, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Jon Stewart and the Burden of History.
posted by valkyryn (123 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
While the Internet filter my employer has purchased will allow me to freely see any number and variety of aroused human genitals alone and in all possible combinations, and will allow me to watch untold violent acts and the maiming of kittens and invalids, Esquire is blocked.
posted by Danf at 8:35 AM on September 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


A whole lot of axe grinding and damning with faint praise for very little in the way of a point.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:43 AM on September 15, 2011 [36 favorites]


"He's not so funny anymore"

I'm sorry, Tom Junod and Esquire Magazine, but that's just flat out wrong (as far as something as subjective as 'funny' can be wrong). But this episode, which almost all just Jon Stewart talking into the camera, is a virtuoso bit of comic delivery. It didn't hurt that the jokes were hilarious.
posted by Kattullus at 8:44 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's kinda funny to take 8,000 grandiloquent words in a major media outlet writing an article about whether your subject's media pulpit is making him a self-serious windbag unaware of his own ironies. Oh, but that's just the format, you say? I think I know a comedy news-show host who might say the same thing.

To be less glib, I agree with a lot of the article, but there's a lot of empty This Is Important Cultural Politics rhetoric surrounding the central point, which is that satire needs to be a critical enterprise. Sure, too often the Daily Show mythologizes itself as an outsider enterprise in order to avoid examining its own status as part of the corporate media establishment, and too often it chooses predictable, safe targets for its mockery rather than challenging its audience. The problem is its politics, not that Stewart is wrong that serious satire has social value.
posted by RogerB at 8:44 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


I agree with T.D. that whole thing could be distilled into a tweet: "Stewart is older and would make fun of his younger self."
posted by cjorgensen at 8:45 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Esquire is blocked.

I think your employers know exactly what they're doing.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:46 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're not missing much, if the first two sections are any indication. I didn't read the rest but it was shaping up to be a hatchet job.
posted by IanMorr at 8:46 AM on September 15, 2011


That was a kind of bloviatingly wanky article.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:47 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


The conversational tone there was terrible.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Jesus, this writer makes it sound like getting older is something to be mocked for or feel self-conscious about. And it was written with the sort of unselfconsciously prolix style that undergrads employ to bulk up insubstantial papers, but with the added bonus of an irritatingly tendentious rhetorical style that seems always to be aimed with mordant insight at some terrible flaw but never really gets there. Crap article.
posted by clockzero at 8:52 AM on September 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


You cool guys should probably finish the article, at least for the news that Stewart has been talking about starting a 24hour investigative anti-corruption news network. I'd watch that!

I do agree that some of the tone veers towards petulance, especially because this from the last paragraph seems to negate a lot of the negative points: "Jon Stewart has made a career of avoiding "Whooo" humor. He has flattered the prejudices of his audience, but he has always been funny, and he has always made them laugh"

What else really can you say? The guys still funny.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if anyone knows about turning into a bloviating windbag in ones later years, it's Esquire's Tom Junod.
posted by Optamystic at 8:55 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blah, blah, blah...what a worthless article. Fuck you very much Tom Junod.

Stewart's interviews are the very best on television.
-He had the prime minister of Iraq on at the height of the violence there just after the Virginia Tech shooting, and asked him how they dealt with the same events on daily basis.
-He had Musharraf on to ask him where Bin Laden was, then had him on again after Bin Laden was killed, to ask him why he didn't know before.

Does anybody else do anything comparable?
posted by Chekhovian at 8:56 AM on September 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


And in the wake of 9/11 he did something amazing: He taught America how to make jokes — hell, how to laugh, even with a mass grave still smoldering in downtown New York and America just beginning to embark on the series of insanely unexamined moral misadventures that persist to this day. He'd taken over The Daily Show from Craig Kilborn in 1999
Wow, it's kind of crazy to think that Stewart had only been on the air for 2 years on 9/11 and he's been on for 10 years since then.

I kind of agree that Stewart has been getting more self-important lately. But how are people supposed to respond when everyone tells them how awesome and important they are? I don't really think it's that big of a problem that he "pulled rank" on Chris Wallace, Chris Wallace is a douche. The show is still pretty funny most of the time, although I find Colbert funnier.
posted by delmoi at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2011


That is waaaaaaay longer than it needs to be. I scanned it, got the angle and left. I'll continue watching TDS every night.
posted by davebush at 9:02 AM on September 15, 2011


That's a pretty nasty hatchett job article. Whatever points it might have been able to make about Stewart are largely lost in a gossipy mess - it feels spiteful, rather than insightful (and I say that as someone who doesn't always agree with Stewart - it's an interesting point the article makes that nowadays Stewart has to make do with being disappointed with Obama, and that perhaps even satire is eventually exhausted by a propaganda machine as relentless, as wicked, as obsessive as Fox News).

"A Roger Ailes for veracity" - the article writer acts as if this were a bad thing, but I love it.

And I think others would too - there seems to me to be a growing anger on the left that has never been there before, perhaps coming from frustration with Obama's compromising centre-right policies - a desire to go after right-wing figures as viciously, as personally, as destructively as they have always gone after people on the left. Someone who could tap into that hunger for payback might well have a market. I think Stewart knows that and is trying to avoid taking that poisoned chalice (he wants veracity, not to hit back for the left, even if nowadays that mostly amounts to the same thing).
posted by lucien_reeve at 9:02 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


It seems like the two points the article was trying to make were:

a) "Jon Stewart isn't as nice as people think he is", and

b) "Jon Stewart keeps saying he's 'just a comedian' but that's bullshit."

To which I'd say:

a) Well, okay, so Jon Stewart isn't perfect, but so what. People don't dig the guy for being 'a perfect person,' they dig him for saying things that need saying, and sometimes being really funny at the same time.

and

b) I can get why people would be annoyed by this, because hell, he's done a LOT more in terms of political action than, say, Tosh 3.0. But I can understand why he's saying it. It's kind of a similar stance Bono takes -- "I'm the person that is speaking truth to power, but that doesn't mean that I have power. Legislation is your job, not mine -- my job is commentary upon that legislation."

The fact that people confuse 'commentary upon legislation' with 'power' probably makes them uncomfortable, becasue that means people have lost faith in the people who have power, or lack an understanding of how their government works -- and are lacking the faith that they have their own influence on power as well; and they're turning to the wrong guy to save them. So the protestations aren't so much a mock-naive "hey, don't look at me, I'm just a comedian", so much as they're a concerned, "no, really, I'm just a comedian, I am not in Congress. You can talk directly to them, go do that, because there's a point at which my power ends."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on September 15, 2011 [28 favorites]


there's a lot of empty This Is Important Cultural Politics rhetoric

It's Esquire. Just like TDS goes to great lengths to allow its viewers to believe that they're not watching a news show, Esquire must similarly exert itself in order to ensure that everyone can rest safe in the knowledge that they're not reading a lad mag.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:06 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's a long article. The people who are "scanning it, getting the angle, and leaving" aren't doing it justice. A lot of the good stuff is towards the end.
posted by valkyryn at 9:07 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's the problem with Stewart--he doesn't satirize politics so much as people talking about politics--the talking heads, the pundits, etc. And in doing so, he often misses the "civics" and "policy" side of questions. He never talks about how votes are gathered in the legislative bodies of the country, nor about the formal structures of power which the informal structures of power are built around.

His approach is often emotional and simplistic and ignores how the way the Constitution structures our government and focuses more on the media, which ignores these things. And yes, he's a comedian, but he wades in to other territories and he gets lost, because its hard to make jokes about the all-important basics of government and policy.

I've found it harder and harder to watch him of late. The negativity is too heavy, his feeling of powerlessness--created by what appears to be the narrative TV news presents, that the little media battles control, not the actual rules of government, and the idea TV tries to push on you that the President snaps his fingers and its done. He doesn't want to look at the reality of sausage-making or give up the idea that you can just unwind our system in a heartbeat--or even the idea that it might not be a good thing to have it happen with the snap of a finger.

He also seems disillusioned by the fact that Obama's coalition was bigger and wider than Stewart's audience and that Obama isn't beholden to the idea that you must constantly attack on TV and run your own narrative rather than pivot on your opponent's.

Colbert is much better now--he's doing art and comedy at the same time and really undoing the contradictions at the heart of the system by actually using it in character. He does focus on process--the use of the FEC, the "Colbert Bump" and the like talk more about the system and less on the daily clowns who comment on it. It makes a titanic difference.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:07 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Stewart needs Ben Karlin back desperately. He was the Larry David to his Seinfeld. I also have a very hard time believing anyone who makes the kind of money Stewart makes can give the kind of gravity to the desperation felt by the middle class today. He still makes some points but before he was slinging his dirt from within the ditch now he's just observing from above. Big difference in tone when it's not your skin in the game anymore.
posted by any major dude at 9:09 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


's aged like the president. They are close to the same age — they are both terminal baby boomers [...]. They are both cool and smart, and they both gained moral authority by seeming to rise up in answer to our terrible times ... and yet somehow they have both ended up as political figures who insist that they are above the troublesome fractiousness of politics.
Obama-Stewart 2012.
posted by vhsiv at 9:09 AM on September 15, 2011


Colbert is much better now. Precisely backwards. During W. the Colbert Report was like an oasis amidst all that delusional reality bending bullshit. He supplied that extra little torque that was just enough to make the whole illusion collapse into ridicule.

He does focus on process--the use of the FEC, Colbert is at his best when he's out in the world talking to those clowns. His interview with the right wing spin doctor was masterful. eg "I find that to be wonderful, not deceitful."
posted by Chekhovian at 9:15 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the same Tom Junod that wrote The Falling Man, yes? I will allow him to write long articles.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:16 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's a long article. The people who are "scanning it, getting the angle, and leaving" aren't doing it justice. A lot of the good stuff is towards the end.

He's doing it wrong.
posted by headnsouth at 9:18 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Stewart's interviews are the very best on television.

Eh, we are regular DS watchers but I think his interviews are often pretty weak. He's terrible with attractive women because he just flirts, talks over people who have more interesting things to say than he does, and has a really hard time with interviewees that are awkward. Sometimes he's great, but I think the interviews are the most hit-or-miss part of the show. I think Colbert is more consistently a better interviewer even if it's filtered through his persona.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here's the problem with Stewart--he doesn't satirize politics so much as people talking about politics

I disagree that this is a problem, in fact, I view it as a feature, not a bug. To my read of the world, many of the issues we deal with on a day to day basis are born out of the 24 hour news channels filling the air with a constant stream of extremely biased talking points and other forms of propaganda.

We've reached a point where we can't even have an honest debate anymore because people are coming into the conversation with such dogmatic beliefs that they are unwilling to even imagine that they might have been given bad or misleading information.

Taking broadcasters to task for claiming to be fair and balanced while only ever showing an extremely one-sided perspective is one of the best uses for Stewart and his team, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by quin at 9:24 AM on September 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


There is good stuff in there, but BejesusHLordandSaviorMaccabee, the conversational tone was incredibly distracting and awful. It read like a first draft of an outline of what the article wanted to be.

What I thought most interesting:

"...and he's been obsessed with Roger Ailes ever since he went to O'Reilly's studio and was summoned into Ailes's office. He stayed an hour and came out a freaked-out admirer, like the crazy newscaster in Network once Ned Beatty got through with him. It wasn't just that Ailes asked him, right off the bat, "How are your kids?" and then berated him for hating conservatives; it wasn't even that both men are intensely concerned about what people think of them and have no qualms about trying to influence how they're portrayed. It's that Ailes is all about power and so has accepted the obligation that Stewart has proudly refused. You want to know the difference between the Left and the Right in America? The Right has Roger Ailes, and the Left has Jon Stewart; the Right has an evil genius, while the Left contents itself with a genius of perceived non-evil."
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:28 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eh, we are regular DS watchers but I think his interviews are often pretty weak. He's terrible with attractive women because he just flirts, talks over people who have more interesting things to say than he does, and has a really hard time with interviewees that are awkward.
Yeah, I agree. His interviews were never good. In terms of "Comedy interviews" Conan is better (although I hardly ever watch him anymore, I used to in the 90s), and he's not Charley Rose or Bill Moyers. He occasionally crushes people like Jim Cramer, but that's the extreme exception. And of course it was the norm he would never get interview guests.
posted by delmoi at 9:37 AM on September 15, 2011


"He's not so funny anymore"

I'm sorry, Tom Junod and Esquire Magazine, but that's just flat out wrong


Just this week they did this bit, which I thought was hilarious: The Daily Show Remembers 9/13/2001
posted by homunculus at 9:41 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


They come to read the mannered Tom Junod. They come to read the Tom Junod who has written feature profiles for Esquire for years. They come to read the Tom Junod who has a style - who has, like, a lot of style, what the kids on their iPhones call a metric shit-ton in their smartassed tweets - and uses it to turn brief encounters with famous people into psychoanalytical treatises on Who They Are. They come to read the Tom Junod who can sometimes be absolutely brilliant and insightful on the right subject, the Tom Junod who can't seem to see when and where his sometimes over-arch prose and writerly tics grind his weaker points to pablum. They come to read the Tom Junod who inspires snark as much as admiration now, the Tom Junod who sometimes comes off a bit - maybe more than a bit, maybe a lot - like the magazine feature writer equivalent of one of those Saturday Night Live skits with a half-clever premise that gets tired by Minute Two and an insult to the comedic art by Minute Four and still goes on another three minutes. They come to read the Tom Junod who got so into sounding like an offhand imitation of a Jon Stewart broadcast that he forgot that the tone he was imitating was designed to deflate self-serious tones and off he went being self-serious, thinking a little slang and ellipsis and italicization would save him from becoming the thing Jon Stewart mocks.

They come to read the Tom Junod who is not, and will never be, Jon Stewart.
posted by gompa at 9:49 AM on September 15, 2011 [44 favorites]


Here's the problem with Stewart--he doesn't satirize politics so much as people talking about politics--the talking heads, the pundits, etc.

Feature, not a bug. Stewart's program is first and foremost a satire of the news, not a political satire. He aspires not to punditry or politics but to insightful media criticism. Which he succeeds it way more often than almost anyone else who isn't him or Colbert.
posted by gompa at 9:51 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a long article. The people who are "scanning it, getting the angle, and leaving" aren't doing it justice. A lot of the good stuff is towards the end.

Tom Junod has done some fantastic work - y'all might remember him as the author of the seminal profile of Mister Rogers which is etched into so many brains here.

That said, even the best of writers lays the occasional egg. Every piece needs to justify its existence early on, and the readers' continued interest; no reader enters a contract to finish an article they started and the longer a piece is, the more it has to work to keep them glued at every point. Once I realized that the piece didn't actually contain an interview or new information, I was a goner - 8,000 words is a lot for an overwritten cultural essay.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think Jon Stewart understands the sausage making pretty well, it's just that he rightly feels that sometimes you have to fight for things and let the fact that you are right overpower the idea that it's impossible to get things done and you just don't have the votes. I think that is where a lot of his frustration with Obama comes from.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:53 AM on September 15, 2011


Here's the problem with Stewart--he doesn't satirize politics so much as people talking about politics

I disagree that this is a problem, in fact, I view it as a feature, not a bug. To my read of the world, many of the issues we deal with on a day to day basis are born out of the 24 hour news channels filling the air with a constant stream of extremely biased talking points and other forms of propaganda.


It used to be a feature when getting profiled on TDS was a source of embarrassment but when was the last time some talking head was laughed out of the business due to a TDS expose? More and more I get the sense that the TDS audience (especially the studio audience) doesn't even get the point of the joke. There used to be a time when the studio audience didn't react with uproarious laughter at every pause.
posted by any major dude at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


TDS heavily contributed to Rick Sanchez melting down and getting fired, but people getting laughed out of the business was never as regular as you seem to be implying.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:58 AM on September 15, 2011


I agree with T.D. that whole thing could be distilled into a tweet: "Stewart is older and would make fun of his younger self."

Isn't this statement true about everyone? I mean, who doesn't find their younger selves somewhat laughable?
posted by jb at 9:58 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't look to Jon Stewart for insight into the operation of government. I look to him to keep the people who would vote for the candidates I like interested in politics, and to motivate them to perform democracy's smallest quantum of participation, to vote.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It used to be a feature when getting profiled on TDS was a source of embarrassment but when was the last time some talking head was laughed out of the business due to a TDS expose?

1) This never happened. It was Stewart appearing on Crossfire and dismantling it with effortless ease that kicked Tucker Carlson the rest of the way out a door he was already stumbling toward.

2) Very few jokes are better the second time you hear 'em, and no magic trick gets better the second time. David Copperfield can only make the Statue of Liberty disappear once, you know?

3) Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, Stewart shaming Congress into revisiting the 9/11 responders health benefits thing almost singlehandedly - this is the sequel.
posted by gompa at 10:03 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Having called it "overwritten," something twigged at me, wondering why it bugged me so. Something about the writing style, the sense that Junod says things four times that he could have said once. Also the pretentious way that he got into every paragraph. So I conducted an experiment. Herewith, below, is every first sentence of each paragraph in the piece, arranged into paragraphs according to bolded subheads. The result is an oddly compelling tl;dr version. When too many paragraphs begin with one-word sentences, and yet the summary remains halfway readable because you're moving through your subject matter so slowly, it might be time to call in an editor.

Hencewith!

---------------------

They gather under the tall Jon Stewart. They are mostly young themselves, college kids who sit on the sweltering summer sidewalk when they're not pressed against the stanchions that have been set up to organize ticket holders waiting to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

"But conservatives are so much better at taking orders than we are," says his wife, before changing her mind in light of the impasse over the debt ceiling. In fact, everybody in line is accomplished at taking orders and being civilized and compliant. And they do, they do. Well, Gitmo.

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are happy to have as our guest Jon Stewart. Wait a second (hand to imaginary earpiece) — excuse me, folks. Well, what about it? Wait. O-kay. Oh. No! Come on!

He was pretty damned smart. But now let's roll the clip of him on Crossfire in 2004. What Begala didn't know, of course, was that Stewart was nervous in the way that Michael Corleone was nervous when he walked out of the bathroom of the Italian restaurant with more than his dick in his hand. We've all seen the clip a few million times. So there it is: No jokes for you.

Now look at him. And now here he is. And there it is again, that denial of power upon which his power depends. He is only one man, after all. Sorry. See? Stewart interviewed Cramer in 2009, a few months after the financial collapse that the bellicose CNBC swami claimed never to have seen coming. Because Stewart was out to make the poor bastard recant. Bullshit. Stewart isn't just being a bully here.

Was Jon Stewart being a dick when he was subjecting Jim Cramer to enhanced interrogation? Now, you have to understand Jon Stewart is just like everybody else: He can be a dick. We don't have the clip for that. Invulnerable. And there it is: Funny! And if you do? With all due respect: Rick Sanchez was destroyed by Jon Stewart. "When I tell people that I used to work for Jon, the thing they ask, all the time, is 'Oh, is he nice?'" says Stacey Grenrock Woods, a former Daily Show correspondent who is now Esquire's venerable sex columnist.

Of course, he does parody himself sometimes. Wait a second. Okay, then: He's being sincere. Because make no mistake: That's why the Rally to Restore Sanity took place. He even gave a speech, as Jon Stewart. And so he took it. Did he do what he wanted to do?

Welcome to The Daily Show. Oh, well: another night, another show about Fox News. Indeed, there are days when Stewart himself says, "No Fox today — let's go after a more elusive target." And yet a man can dream, can't he, and on the evening he has Juan Williams on his show, he does that thing again, that Jon Stewart thing, of saying who he really is, and what he really wants, and his vision for America. "If somebody wanted to start a twenty-four-hour news network that would focus on corruption and governance as opposed to the politics of it, do you think that that would have a chance to be successful and change the way debate occurs in the States?" Really.

He hasn't really aged like a president. Was he funny? Jon Stewart has made a career of avoiding "Whooo" humor. But outside the building there's still a giant version of him standing with clasped hands, and he looks ready to take the piss out of anyone, including the gray-haired man inside, talking seriously to a Fox News analyst about starting a network something like Fox, without the laughs.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:08 AM on September 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


Stewart's interviews are the very best on television.

He is a coward of an interviewer. See, for example, his interview with Henry Kissinger (oh, doctor, this book is so fascinating).
posted by beerbajay at 10:08 AM on September 15, 2011


I think Jon Stewart understands the sausage making pretty well, it's just that he rightly feels that sometimes you have to fight for things and let the fact that you are right overpower the idea that it's impossible to get things done and you just don't have the votes. I think that is where a lot of his frustration with Obama comes from.

I don't think so. I've watched him for a long time--whenever it is a process issue, he has extremely simplistic responses. On health care he wondered why the "Democrats" didn't come out with "single payer" as their first move. As if there was a single "Democratic" proposal, or their should be. He saw it as Red v. Blue, but in reality it is a lot more complex than that and he failed to educate his studio audience on that.

Just "fighting" means nothing. Its the winning that counts. If you expend all of your energy fighting every battle, you lose. Fight the right battles and you can win.

Just yesterday he insisted the Dems got hosed in the debt ceiling battle. Anyone who looked at what the major players wanted and what they got in the details of the deal would not say that. He glosses over important things--he's more concentrated on laughs. Its hard for him to occupy the "I'm only a comedian" thing when he does more than that. Colbert points it out more thoroughly by working the actual levers of government for comedic effect.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:09 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Stewart's interviews are the very best on television.

nope. he got whipped by Yoo. In fact, he admitted it the next day. Because he was so focused on the "Yoo should get punished for giving advice" angle, he didn't ask the right questions, which should have been about the bad advice Yoo gave. Its not the advice giver, its the advice that was the problem in that case. There was never any legal case against Yoo--technically he was not the decision maker and simply cannot be sued in the capacity in question. But nobody ever challenged the crappy advice.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:12 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...comes out to the sidewalk and begins, like, yelling at them..."

Was this written by my 12-year old sister? (no offense, imaginary sister)
posted by strangememes at 10:12 AM on September 15, 2011


bicyclefish wins the thread.
posted by localroger at 10:18 AM on September 15, 2011


On health care he wondered why the "Democrats" didn't come out with "single payer" as their first move.

And what's wrong with that? Some polls showed strong support for ideas like ideas like Medicare for all. You don't have to stick with that, but it's fine as a starting point to suggest the best idea and a popular idea.

He saw it as Red v. Blue, but in reality it is a lot more complex than that and he failed to educate his studio audience on that.

I recall he did a good amount of talking about the roles of people like Lieberman and Nelson in regards to the healthcare debate, but it's been a while.

Just "fighting" means nothing. Its the winning that counts. If you expend all of your energy fighting every battle, you lose. Fight the right battles and you can win.

That's simplifying it, since there are debates about what battles are winnable. Zadroga looked like it was lost already before Stewart jumped in on it. You can also fight with varying levels of energy.

Just yesterday he insisted the Dems got hosed in the debt ceiling battle. Anyone who looked at what the major players wanted and what they got in the details of the deal would not say that.


A major player in the deal, the President, wanted to increase taxes on the rich as part of the deal, for example. The Democrats pretty much got one thing, the debt ceiling raise, which they didn't want as much as they needed. The fact is, so did the Republicans even though they did a good job of scaring people about the idea of not doing it.

I don't really buy the "just a comedian" stuff all the time, but it was unrealistic to expect him to take on a lawyer like Yoo on a legal question.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:23 AM on September 15, 2011


I also have a very hard time believing anyone who makes the kind of money Stewart makes can give the kind of gravity to the desperation felt by the middle class today. He still makes some points but before he was slinging his dirt from within the ditch now he's just observing from above. Big difference in tone when it's not your skin in the game anymore.

This may or may not be true but make no mistake: this is a fundamental quality of capitalism. You're popular? Well now you're also rich.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:23 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just yesterday he insisted the Dems got hosed in the debt ceiling battle. Anyone who looked at what the major players wanted and what they got in the details of the deal would not say that.

A major player in the deal, the President, wanted to increase taxes on the rich as part of the deal, for example. The Democrats pretty much got one thing, the debt ceiling raise, which they didn't want as much as they needed. The fact is, so did the Republicans even though they did a good job of scaring people about the idea of not doing it.


But the majority of the deal hasn't been worked out yet. The supercommittee is going to make the main calls. And they are working to the GOP's disadvantage based on the background to the trigger. Revenue is still on the table. This is why the deal is good, because the main negotiation is now out from under the debt ceiling raise issue, and the looming threat is to the GOP, not to the Dems, based on the trigger provisions.

This is where Stewart gets it wrong. He tells the story wrong. He doesn't get into the details. And if he can't, he should not make statements like that.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:34 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the majority of the deal hasn't been worked out yet. The supercommittee is going to make the main calls. And they are working to the GOP's disadvantage based on the background to the trigger. Revenue is still on the table. This is why the deal is good, because the main negotiation is now out from under the debt ceiling raise issue, and the looming threat is to the GOP, not to the Dems, based on the trigger provisions.

No, not really, when you get down to a trigger situation the Democrats have shown they are going to blink first. Keeping something on the table is kind of ridiculous framing, as if the Republicans could ban the Democrats from trying to change tax policy down the road even if they took it out of the debt battle. The reason the tax hikes didn't get in the bill was because Republicans won't vote for them, punting the question did nothing to change that. We know the Republicans are going to get the spending cuts though, it's only a question of the size of them.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:40 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


nobody says how strange it is that the spiel you hear before you're allowed to see Jon Stewart just happens to be exactly the same spiel you hear before you're allowed to walk through the barbed-wire gates of —

Well, Gitmo.
About where I stopped reading. What?
posted by natteringnabob at 10:46 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


We* need a progressive politics that calls out the bullshit and dreams up a better future for all of us. Stewart is so good at the first it highlights how desperately we need the second. This is his triumph and his frustration.

* for certain values of "we".
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:51 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stewart has become the epitome of a news clown.

Stewart's interviews are the very best on television.
-He had the prime minister of Iraq on at the height of the violence there just after the Virginia Tech shooting, and asked him how they dealt with the same events on daily basis.
-He had Musharraf on to ask him where Bin Laden was, then had him on again after Bin Laden was killed, to ask him why he didn't know before.

Does anybody else do anything comparable?


You must be joking. Are you limiting this to mainstream US cable TV or anyone? Stewart is no Larry King, but he's basically a softballer. He treats most of his guests with kid gloves and rolls with the polls (i.e. getting aggressive with Cramer or Sanchez).
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. That was too painful to finish. Tom Junod should get a real job. This writing thing isn't working for him.
posted by Splunge at 11:03 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


The writing in that Esquire piece is atrocious. How did it get published? Or is the ridiculous style intentional, and part of some grander point that I don't understand?

Seriously, I'll never understand how some people make a living as a professional writer.
posted by hank_14 at 11:07 AM on September 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


This article is both too long and seems to vacillate heavily between opposing views: self-loathing fandom on the one hand, and cleverer-than-thou argumentation to the opposite.

However, "The Falling Man" is a superlative piece of journalism.

In my book, Tom Junod is a good journalist for that piece alone. Nobody's perfect.

Spoken as a relatively disinterested party in your kerfuffle, judging by his actual work.
posted by flippant at 11:12 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, not really, when you get down to a trigger situation the Democrats have shown they are going to blink first.

I think that's a simplistic analysis. Why are they going to "cave"? Since they didn't "cave" when the big threat was waived in their face why would they now?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:13 AM on September 15, 2011


About where I stopped reading. What?

Yeah, I read that part and thought, well huh that's unfair, to project annoyance with the system of the show's line crew and production apparatus, which would probably be part of any studio audience TV show, upon Jon Stewart himself, and then compare it directly to Guantanamo Bay. Actually... that comparison is pretty disingenuous. But maybe's it's just one of those intro things, a funny intro bit and then the meat of the article will begin.

It didn't get better. valkyryn, after an intro like that, it's very hard to continue reading, regardless of what wonders await further in. But I did read further in, and it's really not that great an article. Sorry.
posted by JHarris at 11:14 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


You must be joking. Are you limiting this to mainstream US cable TV or anyone?
I'm serious. But you're correct, I am limiting this comparison to mainstream US cable, which is a very shallow pool.

He treats most of his guests with kid gloves
You're right he isn't mean to Cameron Diaz and he talks about fart jokes with Louis CK, but then again have you watched his extended discussions with Huckabee or any of the other conservatives that will come on his show? Maybe he could be harsher to them, but I think he does as well as he can while still having them willing to come on to the show.

his interview with Henry Kissinger
I'll have to watch this later, but c'mon, Colbert's recent Kissinger interview was total hagiography for that fucking war criminal.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:15 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was the most interesting nugget I found in this slog of an article.

"If somebody wanted to start a twenty-four-hour news network that would focus on corruption and governance as opposed to the politics of it, do you think that that would have a chance to be successful and change the way debate occurs in the States?" -- Jon Stewart
posted by cell divide at 11:31 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that's a simplistic analysis. Why are they going to "cave"? Since they didn't "cave" when the big threat was waived in their face why would they now?

I didn't say cave, did I? They dropped their plan for tax increases and stuck with a cuts only bill and punted the rest. Had it been a revenue only bill to raise the debt ceiling, even if it was a small amount of revenue, you would not be claiming Republican victory because the Republicans are still allowed to try and cut later, right?

I think one of the things that gets Obama tripped up sometimes is too much focus on passing legislation and not so much focus on the consequences. The Republicans in congress aren't the only people who need to be convinced. The approval for Obama's handling of negotiations with the Republicans is in the thirties. The approval of his handling of the deficit is at 30. Healthcare, jobs, economy...all in the thirties.

So okay, you got your massive victory of the Republicans allowing you to suggest something again, but the backlash is going to get more Democrats tossed out of office and make all this even harder in the future, and you still didn't get your revenue yet or likely at all. How exactly is that not getting hosed?

I think when Stewart spends so much time looking at the media and a little less on the process, you might want to consider that he knows that the voters don't really care about the process either.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:32 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oops, poll link.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:34 AM on September 15, 2011


No, the piece is a serious profile, and there are serious reasons for running it. There are serious issues raised, there are profound questions about The Way We Live Now to be discussed. The result is a meretricious prose whose pretense at arch sophistication has become a schlock art form, the written equivalent of a Leroy Neiman nude.

The Jon Stewart piece? No, it's Ron Rosenbaum's ("one of America's best magazine writers"*) critique of an Angelina Jolie story by none other than Tom Junod (who "has twice won the prestigious National Magazine Award.) Rosenbaum asks if Junod'd piece is "The Worst Celebrity Profile Ever Written?"

His problem:

But when it comes to fawning, there is nothing quite like the elaborate, elevated, wannabe-highbrow fawning that "gentlemen's magazines" (mainly Esquire and GQ) do when they produce a cover story on a hot actress. And in the history of fawning gentlemen's-magazine profiles, there is unlikely to be a more ludicrous example than the profile in the July Esquire of—yes—Angelina Jolie, which spends many thousands of words and invokes grave national tragedies to prove to us that Angelina Jolie is not just a good woman, not just an enlightened humanitarian, not just a suffering victim of celebrity, not just strong and brave, but, we are told, "the best woman in the world."

It's an interesting piece, and spawned an interesting series of comments on Washington Post (the source of those two apostrphes above.) And what I think it boils down to is that celebrity journalism is so completely mediated by PR people that even good writers (such as Junod, who undeniably is capable of producing great writing) end up embarrassing themselves by attempting to overwrite a piece where they have been given almost nothing usable, and are contractually retrained from saying certain things.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:43 AM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


I miss Craig Kilborn.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:08 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where Junod goes wrong, in a nutshell, is this snippet:
"What I do is much harder than what you do"? But just last year didn't he tell Rachel Maddow that what he did was less honorable than what she did?
I think Stewart's philosophy is pretty clear: "You don't have to make things funny, and people will listen to what you say on important issues. So why are you so bad/lazy at it?"

This applies to news media, the Democratic leadership, Obama -- pretty much all the (non-evil) public figures he skewers. I think Junod has to be deliberately obtuse to not only not get this, but to write an 8000 word article detailing how he doesn't get it.
posted by bjrubble at 12:23 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Poor Kilborn. Stewart came along and took TDS to stratospherically better levels. Then Craig Ferguson came along and did The Late Late Show at much better levels. What's left for him?
posted by Chekhovian at 12:27 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


So okay, you got your massive victory of the Republicans allowing you to suggest something again, but the backlash is going to get more Democrats tossed out of office and make all this even harder in the future, and you still didn't get your revenue yet or likely at all. How exactly is that not getting hosed?

I think when Stewart spends so much time looking at the media and a little less on the process, you might want to consider that he knows that the voters don't really care about the process either.


But Stewart pretends to be against that--and this is the core of his problem. He spent last week ripping on the media for making a mountain out of the schedulegate thing. He pretends to want the cable channel that just goes after corruption, but he's all about the TV battle, not about the policy battle.

Wasn't the whole problem with Bush that he was so intent on winning PR battles he cared nothing for policy? Obama promised to move away from this--yet all the naysayers, and Stewart complain that he's not "fighting" enough, which appears to mean saying mean things about the GOP and throwing red meat to his base.

But what does that accomplish other than making partisans feel good? Does it move the policy ball at all? I don't see how.

Nor has it been any part of Obama's style, ever. This is a man whose first speech on the national stage was "there is no red america, there is no blue america."

And that has always been my problem with Stewart. He is essentially complaining that he's not getting the emotional feeling he wants. You could complain about the public option, but I never saw 60 votes for that. But in terms of promises made and kept, he's done almost everything he set out to do. Rarely does a politician do that. Where he hasn't met a promise, his own party has stabbed his position in the back, a la Gitmo. But Stewart seems focused on the appearences, rather than the facts. And Obama has never been an appearences guy. He's always been a get things done guy.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I miss Craig Kilborn.

Dear god, why? The Kilborn days were all about cutting comments directed at easy targets, nonsensical bits like "Movie Revenues in Lira," all the interviews were terrible fluff pieces with actors instead of just some of them like now, and the correspondents were required to slowly erode away their souls making fun of poor stupid people to their faces in cruel away segments.

Kilborn was such a snarky bastard. Snark is a useful weapon in service to the truth, but snark without purpose helps no one.

Poor Kilborn. Stewart came along and took TDS to stratospherically better levels. Then Craig Ferguson came along and did The Late Late Show at much better levels. What's left for him?

Five Questions, by his demand.

But Stewart pretends to be against that--and this is the core of his problem. He spent last week ripping on the media for making a mountain out of the schedulegate thing. He pretends to want the cable channel that just goes after corruption, but he's all about the TV battle, not about the policy battle.

Really? I think Stewart and his team of writers just try to fill up their four half-hours a week the best way they can. If they can make a good point along the way then so much better, but the process of writing the show is too hectic to pretend you have a point of view to advance. Pundit-driven shows have the advantage of being about the message; it's not hard to fill 30 minutes preaching to the converted. Being genuinely funny for two hours a week though is a lot harder.
posted by JHarris at 12:37 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Over in two, for those who missed it, and still are considering reading that fucking waste of Comcast bandwidth:


A whole lot of axe grinding and damning with faint praise for very little in the way of a point.
posted by T.D. Strange
posted by IAmBroom at 12:37 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kilborn was such a snarky bastard. Snark is a useful weapon in service to the truth, but snark without purpose helps no one.

You missed the point entirely. The target of Kilborn's snark was The Daily Show and himself. Stewart takes himself far too seriously to even consider he might be a legitimate target.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think when Stewart spends so much time looking at the media and a little less on the process, you might want to consider that he knows that the voters don't really care about the process either.

But Stewart pretends to be against that--and this is the core of his problem.


Well no, what he claims to be against is a lack of substance. Just focusing in on the process doesn't solve that. The voters don't care about the process because of the perception that it is corrupt and working only for already entrenched powers. Even if you get something through that system, it may come out the other end being ground down into a joke.

Wasn't the whole problem with Bush that he was so intent on winning PR battles he cared nothing for policy?

Hmmm? No I don't think so. He had plenty of policy victories, they were just bad policies. That's the same problem Obama is having,

But what does that accomplish other than making partisans feel good? Does it move the policy ball at all? I don't see how.

As I just referenced, if you take your case to the voters and do it right you can have a chance of getting your handling of the situation higher than approval in the thirties so your party has a chance to pick up seats next time around. That's a bit more than a good feeling, right?

And that has always been my problem with Stewart. He is essentially complaining that he's not getting the emotional feeling he wants.


That is an extremely lazy stock answer you have for everyone who disagrees with you. Political reality demands you care about the feelings of the voters when you cover politics, as those feelings determine who runs the country come election time. It's just as real as a filibuster.

You could complain about the public option, but I never saw 60 votes for that.

And there weren't votes for the Zadroga bill, until there were.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:51 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]



I miss Craig Kilborn.

Dear god, why? The Kilborn days were all about cutting comments directed at easy targets, nonsensical bits like "Movie Revenues in Lira," all the interviews were terrible fluff pieces with actors instead of just some of them like now, and the correspondents were required to slowly erode away their souls making fun of poor stupid people to their faces in cruel away segments.


The Kilborn Daily Show was a much more effective parody of what passes for modern television news right down to the real life Tom Grunick that was Craig Kilborn. Stewart came in and changed the focus to heavy handed satire.
posted by any major dude at 12:54 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


What an obnoxiously stupid article, and yes I read the whole thing. Can I have my 20 minutes back?

Jon Stewart is a hero to me.
posted by spitbull at 12:55 PM on September 15, 2011


Can we get a cite for this? "the video of Jon Stewart's guest appearance on CNN's Crossfire one of the most transmitted videos of all time — indeed, one of the inspirations behind the creation of YouTube"
posted by nicwolff at 1:00 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


But what does that accomplish other than making partisans feel good? Does it move the policy ball at all? I don't see how.

Google Ron Paul. I mean, Google Overton Window. The battle to move which liberals have been losing for forty years. Because one side fights and the other side conciliates, as do both Obama and Stewart.

Obama and Stewart both say we need to move beyond divisive politics when what needs to be said is you need to move beyond it.
posted by Trochanter at 1:15 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would have like to send a comment to the editors to Esquire about letting this TMZ gossip/armchair psychoanalyst tripe past them, but the form on the contact page doesn't see fit to include a 'submit' button.

So it seems Tom takes his cues of tone-deafness from higher up the ladder.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:35 PM on September 15, 2011


Poor Kilborn. Stewart came along and took TDS to stratospherically better levels. Then Craig Ferguson came along and did The Late Late Show at much better levels. What's left for him?

"We asked 100 Americans: What's your least favourite room in the house to have to clean? You answered 'the terlet.' Survey says?"

Sorry, any major dude, if you assert that Craig Kilborn is a better satirist than Jon Stewart, it's like blowing over 0.08. We suspend your license to discuss comedy for 30 days and send you to Hacks Anonymous to straighten you out. It's actually pretty fun there - they have those inflatable punching dolls with Leno's face on them. It'll be okay.
posted by gompa at 1:43 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


The headline is a good summary "It's because in the Obama era, we're starting to see the price of refusing to stand for anything." That's basically what I said during the Glen Beck rally thread. The left in the US is generally afraid to stand for something, and confuse an aesthetic stance "LMFAO, Tea Party, what douchebags" with a political program to take power and deliver things like more economic equality,healthcare, and ending the wars overseas. That ironic aesthetic stance standing in for politics has been pissing me off for almost a decade.

Here's the deal. Hardcore bigots, theocrats and greedy oligarchs DO NOT GIVE A FUCK if you think they are laughable. They're too busy setting up a system to kick your ass. Stewart's jokes and comedy are the kind of defense mechanism that works really well in a school yard setting, where ultimately there are rules and adult supervision-- if you get all the cool kids on your side, then maybe the bully won't kick your ass, and if he does, the other kids will think he's a jerk and dime him out to the teachers.

But that kind of comedy-as-defense does not work in a situation where there are no rules, or where the other side has the power to change the rules of the game. And that is exactly what the right in the United States wants, from the theocratic foot soldiers all the way up to the oligarchs. They will change the rules (and have been changing the rules) to beat you down and all the mockery you can muster won't make jack shit worth of difference, other than to make you feel a little less powerless. There is no higher authority, YOU are the higher authority as a citizen in the United States. So you had better step up.

I remember, about 7 or 8 years ago when I was in grad school, encountering SO many people who thought I was overly earnest, or overly serious about what was happening in our country, because even then I was telling people that the socio-economic policies being pushed by the right were going to turn the US into a third world country. People thought I was too extreme, not nuanced, too earnest.

Well guess what, now we have people cheering the deaths of the uninsured on television, and people talking about cutting off unemployment benefits and eliminating food stamps. And our so-called liberal leaders in Congress are happy to talk about cutting the deficit and adjusting ourselves to new realities. Cut off the benefits and people will die in the street of starvation. I don't know about you but I'm not in the least interested in adjusting myself to people dying of starvation in the richest country in the world, while bank executives grant themselves bigger bonuses and fly to Aspen on private jets.

If you who don't like that you had better understand that the situation we are in today is the logical outcome of decades of organized agitation by the right. I understand that people are afraid to stand for something because it is a fundamentally vulnerable act-- what if you're wrong and you end up looking stupid? However, if we fail to level income inequalities and curb the power of organized bigots, the United States will become a brutal oligarchy where the rich drive Bentleys into gated communities while outside the gates some people starve in the streets and others who refuse to watch their children starve, pick up a pistol and go out into the dark night to earn money any way that they can.

If that future bothers you, then you had better recognize that stopping it is going to mean risking looking stupid. But if you're more concerned about your own self image than in stopping the onslaught of bullshit, then there's not much I can say to you. Just understand that is the choice you are making.
posted by wuwei at 2:10 PM on September 15, 2011 [16 favorites]


For those suggesting Stewart isn't aggressive enough during interviews - I can't imagine anyone handling things better than he does. He's very aggressive when he needs to be, but he does it with dignity and respect for the guest. He's a gentleman - in a business where being an ass somehow translates to strength. Don't be fooled.
posted by davebush at 2:20 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


The target of Kilborn's snark was The Daily Show and himself. Stewart takes himself far too seriously to even consider he might be a legitimate target.

Snark, that is to say mean-spirited, sarcastic comments, can't be meaningfully wielded against ones' self. It'd be effectively saying, "Who do they we think we are? The world would be so much better if we didn't exist. I don't know why we come in in the morning and claim our huge salaries."

And no, Jon Stewart doesn't take himself seriously at all. I mean geez are we even watching the same show?
posted by JHarris at 2:46 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Remember, this is the show that made up a puppet that looks like the one Grover harasses on Sesame Street, called him "Michael Steele," and had him say "bibble" every few words. Yes, this is IMPORTANT TELEVISION.)
posted by JHarris at 2:49 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


When Junod is on--his 9/11 piece, the stuff he's written about his mom and dad--he's really on; when he's not, he can be a Play-Doh Fun Factory of bullshit.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:53 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


....ew.
posted by JHarris at 2:55 PM on September 15, 2011


Snark, that is to say mean-spirited, sarcastic comments, can't be meaningfully wielded against ones' self. It'd be effectively saying, "Who do they we think we are?

Exactly. And it was hilarious. You never watched the show, did you? The longest running gag was Kilborn's hand mirror, he promised (onscreen) to donate it to the Smithsonian when he left the show.

And no, Jon Stewart doesn't take himself seriously at all. I mean geez are we even watching the same show?

I wish you had seen Stewart when he was young and filled in for Tom Snyder. He was terrible. It was obvious he took himself seriously enough that he didn't have to take what he was doing seriously. And that's still his schtick.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:01 PM on September 15, 2011


He's not so funny anymore

That's probably the swiftest work an article has ever done in torpedoing its own credibility.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:12 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


charlie don't surf, that's not snark, it's irony. shut up Bender

In fact I did watch it, more than I watched Jon Stewart in the early days. I remember thinking the show had gone downhill. I don't think that anymore, and I tie the change in opinion to when the show evolved away from shaping itself in Kilborn's image and towards shaping itself in Stewart's -- less empty jokes, more pointed ones. The reason he would suck hosting Tom Snyder is the same reason he kind of sucked during the writer's strike.

Jon Stewart was among the most apologetic when The Daily Show was forced to continue on during the strike, so much that he actually renamed the show to A Daily Show while it continued.
posted by JHarris at 3:30 PM on September 15, 2011


But what does that accomplish other than making partisans feel good? Does it move the policy ball at all? I don't see how.

Google Ron Paul. I mean, Google Overton Window. The battle to move which liberals have been losing for forty years. Because one side fights and the other side conciliates, as do both Obama and Stewart.

Obama and Stewart both say we need to move beyond divisive politics when what needs to be said is you need to move beyond it.


This relies on the idea that if we were just angrier, then the crazy Republicans would just respect us and cave in. That's ridiculous. Independents aren't going for that.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:46 PM on September 15, 2011


This relies on the idea that if we were just angrier, then the crazy Republicans would just respect us and cave in.

I don't see any suggestion for increased anger in that post. Fighting doesn't have to be angry. Obama moved millions of people to support him with only a small bit of righteous anger and a heavy dose of persuasive and inspiring speech. Currently, a majority of independents disapprove of Obama's job performance, so that is a strange choice of metrics to defend the status quo strategy on.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:01 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bill Maher said it best: ...So this idea that the independents are these careful thinkers ... I don't think that is who the independent voter is. I just think they're cranky people who want change. They voted for change in '06, they voted for change in '08.

posted by Chekhovian at 5:00 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry, any major dude, if you assert that Craig Kilborn is a better satirist than Jon Stewart, it's like blowing over 0.08. We suspend your license to discuss comedy for 30 days and send you to Hacks Anonymous to straighten you out. It's actually pretty fun there - they have those inflatable punching dolls with Leno's face on them. It'll be okay.</em

gompa, the fact that parody and satire are interchangeable to you belies the idea that you can speak with any authority on the subject of comedy. Let me guess, you also think Conan is cutting edge and Brian Williams was hilarious on 30 Rock.

posted by any major dude at 5:22 PM on September 15, 2011


These clips of the original Stewart daily show crew are much more informative than any of the shit in the FPP article:

Stewart, Colbert, and Carrell on field pieces and interviews

Stewart on the influence of personal beliefs on the show
posted by Chekhovian at 5:57 PM on September 15, 2011


I don't think liberals are afraid to stand for something; I just don't think there are many liberals in Congress. Liberals haven't gotten together and raised big money to move their agenda by any means possible. Liberals are still thinking that they can win through reason. The Tea Party is a sham, but it's great theater while the corporatocracy and the Fundamentalist Right, in their unholy alliance, pwn America.

Stewart is still funny, and I feel better informed watching the Daily Show than most network news. Now that's sad. Maybe Stewart's really against extremism, but he feels like the antithesis, or, at least the voice of the antithesis of the cynical, ruthless mo-fos behind the Tea Party/ Religious Far Right/ driving force behind the Republicans. I've become a believer in the cabal.
posted by theora55 at 6:24 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Currently, a majority of independents disapprove of Obama's job performance, so that is a strange choice of metrics to defend the status quo strategy on.

But what does all of this mean? What do you want him to do, and what are you willing to sacrifice for it? We're slightly far afield, but I'm assuming you were willing to sacrifice DADT and the extension of unemployment insurance for the expiration of all tax cuts.

In the end, I see Stewart wanting a different feeling more than actually different events.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:45 PM on September 15, 2011


Currently, a majority of independents disapprove of Obama's job performance, so that is a strange choice of metrics to defend the status quo strategy on.

But what does all of this mean?


It means that you don't get to use the threat of losing the independents in your arguments until the methods you are arguing for actually prove popular with them.

In the end, I see Stewart wanting a different feeling more than actually different events.

You think that about everyone that disagrees with you though, I think you are just blind to the fact that other people have different ideas about how to accomplish change. Stewart didn't feel bad about Iraq, he thought it was a terrible pointless war pushed by lies and he used his position to highlight those lies. He didn't feel bad about 9/11 responders not getting coverage, he wanted to help get them their coverage. He didn't feel bad about Sarah Palin, he thought she had dangerous ideas and should be far from any national power. He doesn't feel bad about Glen Beck promoting crazy hate, he thought he was pushing dangerous and crazy rhetoric that was materially damaging the country.

Look, you are just going to have to come to accept the idea that not everyone agrees with you that Obama has performed perfectly and not fallen short on any issue to do the best he possibly can. People have material complaints. I'm seriously telling you, it really isn't that everyone else on the planet but you is a big emotional baby with their fe-fees hurt as you post in every fucking vaguely political thread.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:51 PM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jon Stewart Compares 'Daily Show' to Fox News: 'We're Both Expressions of Dissatisfaction'
posted by homunculus at 10:21 PM on September 15, 2011


All I take away from this article is that hero worship is stupid. Conservatives proudly choose and venerate their heroes, while liberals downplay their embarrassing tendency do the same.

But nobody gets to Stewart's level without wanting it really, really bad, and calculating and pushing and manipulating and striving for it. He is not an accidental hero. There are no accidental heroes. He is, at once, a good person, an asshole, and a shrewd manipulator. And the more entrenched in the system he becomes, the more he insists -- and the more convinced his fans become -- that he's an outsider. If anything, he carved out a niche within the system and is now indistinguishable from it.

And that's the real reason why everyone's so sad.
posted by klanawa at 12:09 AM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think so. I've watched him for a long time--whenever it is a process issue, he has extremely simplistic responses. On health care he wondered why the "Democrats" didn't come out with "single payer" as their first move. As if there was a single "Democratic" proposal, or their should be. He saw it as Red v. Blue, but in reality it is a lot more complex than that and he failed to educate his studio audience on that. -- Ironmouth
I think Stewart looks at media narratives rather then what's "really" going on, but I think you have a tendancy to say what's "really" going on is something that excuses the democrat's poor performance. Like your misunderstanding of how "Obamacare" was actually passed with two senate votes, one of which was only 50 votes. For example:
Just yesterday he insisted the Dems got hosed in the debt ceiling battle. Anyone who looked at what the major players wanted and what they got in the details of the deal would not say that. -- Ironmouth
That's ridiculous. Anyone who believes actual policy matters would understand that the democrats got hosed. Maybe you think their "players" are way better then the democrats, but just because your team sucks and theirs doesn't mean a loss isn't a loss.

One very, very important bit to consider: 1) The democrats caved early on about some bullshit "government shutdown". Obama was asked specifically if his caving meant that he would cave again in the Debt Ceiling thing. Obama said Bohenner would act like a "statesman" or some bullshit in that case. Ooops. If he'd refused to back down then, the debt thing might not have been as bad.

2) and more importantly, the democrats could have raised the debt ceiling in 2010, during the lame duck session. They chose not too. Why not? Well, you would have to ask them. I think it was because they thought if they made the republicans vote for it, the republicans would take some 'responsibility' for it
Wasn't the whole problem with Bush that he was so intent on winning PR battles he cared nothing for policy? -- Ironmouth
Are you forgetting the whole war thing? The problem with Bush was his policies. I can't even fathom how someone would get the idea that the problem with bush had anything to do with PR.
This relies on the idea that if we were just angrier, then the crazy Republicans would just respect us and cave in. That's ridiculous. Independents aren't going for that. -- Ironmouth
Independents are morons who respect strength. They don't give a damn about "bipartisanship" or "conciliation". The biggest joke is the idea that "independent voters" are all centrists who agree with Lieberman and the lobbyists on capital hill. They don't. They are conspiracy theorists who thing Obama is a Muslim and Bush did 9/11. If you want an example of what an "Independent" voter thinks look at Jessie Ventura. They don't pick sides because they don't know anything and they don't follow politics at all during the "offseason"

---
You think that about everyone that disagrees with you though, I think you are just blind to the fact that other people have different ideas about how to accomplish change. Stewart didn't feel bad about Iraq, he thought it was a terrible pointless war pushed by lies and he used his position to highlight those lies .... People have material complaints. I'm seriously telling you, it really isn't that everyone else on the planet but you is a big emotional baby with their fe-fees hurt as you post in every fucking vaguely political thread.
Ironmouth seems to think that the only metric that matters is how many democrats win their elections, and that "liberals" should vote for democrats no matter what, without question, so that they can concentrate on wooing 'centrist' voters, who in his mind are just as rich as he is and buy into the same beltway conventional wisdom that he shares with Joe Liberman. He's like Lawrence O'Donnell who calls himself a 'socialist' but says we should never support socialist policies because what's important is electing democrats regardless of the outcome.

Then there's the whole 'emotion' argument. I mean certainly, on a base level people vote based on emotion. It could be fear about what might happen to them if certain policies are passed, but often it's sympathy for people who are harmed by the policies. But on a base level that's no different then Ironmouths' motivation who seems to have the same emotional attachment to the democrats that a hard-core sports fan does, cheering when they "win" in the weekly TV spin debate as well as (and more importantly) in elections.

He also wants them to win so much that he interprets obviously losses (like the debt ceiling) as wins so he feels better about them.

So it would be more accurate to say that everyone's response to politics is "emotional" it's just that Ironmouth's emotional responses are more childish.
posted by delmoi at 12:37 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stewart is no Larry King, but he's basically a softballer.

His interview of Rick Perry is a good demonstration of this fact. One will only find softer balls at the end of a q-tip.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:19 AM on September 16, 2011


The Daily Show is ultimately an entertainment program. Stewart can't force anyone to come on his show. Look what happened with John McCain. They have to walk a tight line between holding people accountable and keeping Republicans coming on the show.

It could be argued that this tension is exactly what causes real news outlets to keep throwing Republicans softballs, and I think you'd be right. Still, Stewart has been a lot better at holding Republican feet to the fire than CNN.
posted by JHarris at 6:54 AM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth seems to think that the only metric that matters is how many democrats win their elections, and that "liberals" should vote for democrats no matter what, without question, so that they can concentrate on wooing 'centrist' voters, who in his mind are just as rich as he is and buy into the same beltway conventional wisdom that he shares with Joe Liberman

Please do not make this about me. You neither know how much I make nor know who I share thoughts in common with.

I simply ask that you respond to the things I'm saying about Jon Stewart in response to the Esquire article we all just read.

And there have been some great points here. Blazecock Pileon does point out his interviewing weakneeses. He does softball the toughies. Yoo was a great example. He focused on Yoo's alleged responsibility in the Padilla case, rather than challenge him on Yoo's unbelievably insane interpretation of the Constitution.

As for my ideas on what Obama should do, and the source of Stewart's disappointment in him (see the Obama interview last year), I don't understand what he is actually supposed to do differently. I don't understand what is meant by "fighting." Is he supposed to give speech after speech telling us how bad the GOP is? Don't we already know this? And what good will this do when the GOP controls the House? We have a Constitution. It gives the House powers to initiate spending and taxing bills. It requires they agree. And when they are acting so irresponsibly, what amount of going around telling everyone how bad the Republicans are makes things better. As of this morning, the congressional Republicans have a 19% approval rating amongst the American people. (can only get mobile link from NYT.)

Just throwing partisan red meat 14 months out from the election blows his ammo early without much gain. For someone who decries the media's treatment of politics, Stewart sure wants him to play the regular red meat game.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:19 AM on September 16, 2011


Could you like quote to support any of that? I've never heard Stewart say Obama should give speeches about how bad Republicans are.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:34 AM on September 16, 2011


I can't. I can't figure out what the disappointment is--that's my point. I don't know what the President is supposed to do differently, or why the expectation was that the Republicans were just gonna roll over and that it would take only a few months to get done. I hear much from the President's critics about "fighting." But I don't know what that is, never having seen a president do this.

What I do see is the inexplicable inferiority complex that's out there on our side of the ledger. Its assumed that unless out boot is on the neck, we will never win. I sense this and think its wrong. There will be wins and losses. This is normal. The key is to not give up.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:46 AM on September 16, 2011


Why don't you point me to a segment you are talking about that expresses the ideas you are complaining about so I can give you my interpretation?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:48 AM on September 16, 2011


"fighting." But I don't know what that is, never having seen a president do this.

Did you watch the Bush Administration sell the Iraq War?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:49 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


When he said Obama was hosed on the debt deal this week. I'm not gonna spend time seeking out clips. It was Monday or Tuesday.

More importantly, what do you mean in your criticisms about "fighting." I got that word from your posts above. You have similar criticisms to Stewart.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:52 AM on September 16, 2011


I don't understand what is meant by "fighting."

Take a stand for ONE progressive issue. Just one. Gay marriage, medicinal marijuana, abortion rights, rights of "war criminals", defense reduction, immigration policy, ... ANYTHING. Give me SOMETHING to at least maintain an illusion we have a president who wants to be progressive.

President Obama could end the "gay marriage debate" by coming out strongly in favor. He's a lawyer, ffs. An endorsement of medical marijuana should be a no-brainer that would be HUGE in passing state legislation. (Want to stop drug violence? Let people grow their own.)

The president doesn't always need Congress to get things done. Obama not only doesn't "fight," he doesn't have anything to fight for. Michelle Obama is accomplishing more than her husband is.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:13 AM on September 16, 2011


I went back and found the segment, it was about the jobs speech. The debt ceiling fold comment was mostly a throwaway laugh line, but if you want to read into it...Stewart highlighted the more aggressive and eloquent campaign style push Obama is making on the jobs bill with a wonkish and awkward statement he made on the debt ceiling deal where it looked pretty clear he wasn't expecting to convince anyone. It seems to me his point was that you are stuck with the Republicans either way, so you might as well take the case to the people with aggressive campaign style speech all the time. At no point was there any suggestion of fighting with the Republicans or getting angry.

If you focus on the bulk of Stewart's work instead of one out of context quote, I can't see how you can come away with any other understanding but that his presceiption for the country is for everyone to cut out the rancor, the bullshit, the spin, the anger, and the bipartisanship and to unite to solve the problems the country is facing. That was the entire message of the D.C. Rally he organized. In other words, he and Obama see pretty much exactly eye to eye on this philosophy. When he criticizes Obama, a lot of it comes from a place of disappointment that he doesn't always live up to that ideal.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:16 AM on September 16, 2011


*prescription.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:19 AM on September 16, 2011


Could you like quote to support any of that? I've never heard Stewart say Obama should give speeches about how bad Republicans are.

I took it as read that Ironmouth was saying this as a "what-if", in response to OUR complaints about Obama, not Jon Stewart's.

And I wholeheartedly agree. People here on the Blue keep speaking of how Obama should do things differently, but fall short when it comes to detailing what he should do -- they criticize him for "letting" the GOP get away with things, when it's not Obama "letting" them, it's the other Democrats in Congress that do that. The people in the Blue who complain about Obama often give the impression that they've forgotten about the system of checks and balances, and the limits of power the Executive Branch of the government actually has.

Hopefully, James Carville did write an opinion piece recently which did lay out an action plan for Obama, which is realistically within a president's powers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on September 16, 2011


President Obama could end the "gay marriage debate" by coming out strongly in favor. He's a lawyer, ffs.

Okay, so he gives a speech about how he supports gay marriage. Congress would by saying "that's nice," and go on to vote the way they always done, because of ineffectual Democrats and ultra-conservative Republicans making up the congressional party. Since Obama is not in Congress, there is nothing more he can do other than make a speech.

So what good did this do, again?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:33 AM on September 16, 2011


I took it as read that Ironmouth was saying this as a "what-if", in response to OUR complaints about Obama, not Jon Stewart's.
-
I simply ask that you respond to the things I'm saying about Jon Stewart in response to the Esquire article we all just read.

As for my ideas on what Obama should do, and the source of Stewart's disappointment in him (see the Obama interview last year), I don't understand what he is actually supposed to do differently.

For someone who decries the media's treatment of politics, Stewart sure wants him to play the regular red meat game.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:37 AM on September 16, 2011


I simply ask that you respond to the things I'm saying about Jon Stewart in response to the Esquire article we all just read.

I'm happy to, but you were calling out Ironmouth for something he wasn't doing. I was clarifying what Ironmouth was saying, that's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 AM on September 16, 2011


I was quoting Ironmouth.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:39 AM on September 16, 2011


I know you were, but it seemed you were ascribing a different motivation to his quotes than he was making.

Now that we've got that sorted, let's get back to the article.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on September 16, 2011


The problem is Ironmouth is saying things about Stewart he can't seem to back up, and somehow saying his complaints/solutions are similar to folks in the blue...which he also constantly mischaracterizes. It's a lot easier just to keep the focus on the subject of the article.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:50 AM on September 16, 2011


Congress would by saying "that's nice," and go on to vote the way they always done, because of ineffectual Democrats and ultra-conservative Republicans making up the congressional party. Since Obama is not in Congress, there is nothing more he can do other than make a speech.

So what good did this do, again?


Again, Congress is mostly ineffectual as far as progressive change goes. Change happens at the state level and in the courts. Obama taking a strong pro position would be an incredible advantage for fund raising alone, not to mention state legislation and referendums.

And what good does taking the opposite position (or no position) get him? Less votes than disappointed constituents, imo.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:14 AM on September 16, 2011


there is nothing more he can do other than make a speech

speeches can be a big deal. people are still reading old speeches hundreds and even thousands of years later. being on the right side of history IS important.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:16 AM on September 16, 2011


Again, Congress is mostly ineffectual as far as progressive change goes. Change happens at the state level and in the courts. Obama taking a strong pro position would be an incredible advantage for fund raising alone, not to mention state legislation and referendums.

You're right, but a lot of the people who have been calling for Obama to do this give the impression that they think Obama simply has to say "Congress! Pass gay marriage now!" and they'll just do it. It doesn't work that way, is all.

And what good does taking the opposite position (or no position) get him?

Beats me, quite frankly. I'm only really speaking to the "presidential speeches are not magic wands" argument anyway, as I think some people sort of believe that they are.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on September 16, 2011


magic wands

Nobody says this, literally ever. The idea is that they might help you get the votes in Congress, as Stewart's impassioned segments on the Zadroga bill did. At the same time, they allow you let the voters to know where you stand on an issue even if you are forced to compromise on it later.

The fact is, if we acknowledge that the congressional debate is phony (it is) and we know what the Republicans will or won't allow to happen, the only people we need to convince are the voters. If you play nice with the Republicans too much and lose your voters at the same time, you have both failed to get your preferred policy passed and made it less likely you will be able to improve your position and do so in the future.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:28 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nobody says this, literally ever.

And that's why I said "they give the impression that they think that they are magic wands," and not "they do think that they are magic wands."

I appreciate the scrupulous attention to detail, but perhaps people could pay such scrupulous attention to ALL the details of what I've said rather than just SOME of them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:34 AM on September 16, 2011


If you are receiving the impression that people are saying and believing something literally nobody ever says or believes, maybe the problem is with your reading?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:41 AM on September 16, 2011


I thought we were getting back to the article.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on September 16, 2011


simply ask that you respond to the things I'm saying about Jon Stewart in response to the Esquire article we all just read.

This was stated in response to someone who made personal attacks upon me based upon their perception of my income and who I allegedly agreed with. Please stop with this.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:09 AM on September 16, 2011


Dude, I know. I was pointing out to EC that you wanted to talk about Stewart, not personal motivations/complaints of people on the blue.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:33 AM on September 16, 2011


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