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Eric Alterman on Abu Ghraib and the media.
May 26, 2004 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Eric Alterman on Abu Ghraib and the media. Alterman: And how pathetic is it that the only cable network really grappling with the media's failure is Comedy Central? Let's give the last word to the Daily Show's incomparable Stephen Colbert: "The journalists I know love America, but now all anybody wants to talk about is the bad journalists--the journalists that hurt America.... Who didn't uncover the flaws in our prewar intelligence? Who gave a free pass on the Saddam-Al Qaeda connection? Who dropped Afghanistan from the headlines at the first whiff of this Iraqi snipe hunt? The United States press corps, that's who."
posted by skallas (12 comments total)

 
And according to Juan Cole, the scandal that has yet to break in the press is how many Iraqi women also ended up in those prisons.
posted by homunculus at 4:15 PM on May 26, 2004


If only Comedy Central did an actual news program. I bet they'd compete for market share with CNN.
posted by Parannoyed at 4:32 PM on May 26, 2004


For all the acolades heaped at the feet of Jon Stewart, I will never forget that he was one of the very first to fold like a two-dollar suitcase and give Bush a free pass after 9/11 -- exactly the time when we needed people like him.
posted by RavinDave at 4:34 PM on May 26, 2004


For all the acolades heaped at the feet of Jon Stewart, I will never forget that he was one of the very first to fold like a two-dollar suitcase and give Bush a free pass after 9/11 -- exactly the time when we needed people like him.

That's an absurd accusation. When I was in NYC after the attacks, one of the things I still remember a few weeks after the events was the expedience The Daily Show took to getting things back to normal. Letterman, Stewart, et al, all made their speeches, most of which were heartfelt and profound, but while Letterman spent almost a half a year with clip shows and eased-in interviews with sobbing news anchors The Daily Show went into November 2001 with the parody of all the "America on Alert" title cards called "America Freaks Out." It was one of the first times since 9/11 I laughed for an extended period of time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:44 PM on May 26, 2004


homonculous that is a great link, that Juan Cole site has really improved since the last time I saw it! The guest editorials are really interesting, and the clean design of the site is super. I really recommend it.
posted by chaz at 5:00 PM on May 26, 2004


"And according to Juan Cole, the scandal that has yet to break in the press is how many Iraqi women also ended up in those prisons." - Does Juan Cole read Metafilter ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:57 PM on May 26, 2004


And - oy, yeah - I double, or triple posted the same comment on Altermann's blog ( it was a Mac browser glitch), and he emailed me back threatening to sue my ass. Actually, that's misrepresenting it. he said something like "You better back off real fast, buddy..."

But who am I to judge ? He's one major lightning rod.
posted by troutfishing at 9:02 PM on May 26, 2004


That's an absurd accusation.

Amen.

The Onion also took a measured sabatical and then made me laugh and cry.
posted by McBain at 9:12 PM on May 26, 2004


RavinDave - what's the source of that accusation? Got a quote or a link, or even a description?
posted by Irontom at 3:56 AM on May 27, 2004


Irontom -- the famous quote was: "Subliminable is no longer a punch line." (This was coupled with Jay Leno's quip that "Bush suddenly got smart overnight" -- ie. was off-limits). When pressed to elaborate, Stewart acknowledged that he wouldn't be doing any Bush material. Indeed, it wasn't until the following February (he hosted the Grammies) when he announced: "We can make Bush jokes again".

I'm not advocating that he should have made gratuatous riffs on Bush in the days immediately following 9/11 (although standing up for Bill Maher might have been nice) -- but Bush quickly squandered the goodwill and unity of the country and in the ensuing weeks began exploiting the tragedy to impliment several bone-headed policies. Satire would have gone a long way to nip that in the bud.

Stewart was cowed. The evidence is in the fact that he felt compelled to publicly announce that Bush was off-limits. If you want to attribute it to self-preservation -- fine. Just don't tell me he grapples with "real issues" (as the initial article tries to intimate). Stewart's about as edgy as Jack Paar.
posted by RavinDave at 4:58 PM on May 27, 2004


Stewart was cowed.

I don't know the man, so I can't speak to his inner conflicts...but the fact is that the Daily Show gang were there...they saw the buildings, they breathed the toxic dust, they lived with the bodies coming out of the ground.

That it took them a month to realize what ShrubCo was up to isn't all that surprising, is it?
posted by dejah420 at 6:27 PM on May 27, 2004


Look, I don't follow the media world very closely, so I'm very probably wrong on this. However, I can think of 2 or 3 different interpretations that don't equal to "folding like a 2 dollar suitcase to give Bush a free pass...".

I don't know who wields creative control at Comedy Central, but is it possible he got new marching orders from his corporate masters (whoever they might be - everyone in the media has corporate masters, right)? I can imagine a conversation like "Look, Jon, Bush's approval rating is something like 90%. Don't rock the boat on this right now. You're a big moneymaker for us and we don't want you to get lynched in the street." Maybe Stewart himself didn't want to get lynched in the street. Maybe the advertisers told the corporate masters "No harshing on Bush or we pull all our advertising off your network."

Having an event like that happen where you can watch it go down has to be a big shakeup. Maybe he knew people who died. Maybe he truly believed (for a while) that things really were different somehow. That the world really had changed. Maybe he felt that the right thing was to get behind the president to try and ensure some kind of national unity.

But you know what? Even if that last bit is the truth (and I think it probably was), he seems to have come back to his senses. Which, to me, makes him a whole fucking ton better than people like Dennis Miller, who (last time I checked) has gone all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum, and been happy to stay there.
posted by Irontom at 4:36 AM on May 28, 2004


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