King Of All Media

Jon Stewart, fake newscaster, sets the barometer of the American media:

For decades, young reporters would ask themselves, “What would [Walter Cronkite] think?” Nowadays, it’s not the memory of Walter Cronkite or even Edward R. Murrow that motivates some reporters — it’s more often the fear that the stories they put out today might get picked apart by Jon Stewart tomorrow.

Prominent among the wary: NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who recently explained in a magazine essay that The Daily Show host “has gone from optional to indispensable” in just a few short years.

I’ve managed to dispense with it. 

And Williams tells NPR’s Guy Raz that on occasion, when he feels his broadcast tap-dancing toward the precipice — tossing around a story idea for “what I call Margaret Mead journalism — where we ‘discover Twitter,’ ” for instance, or entertaining some other unfortunate editorial possibility — “I will, and have, said that, ‘You know, maybe we can just give a heads-up to Jon to set aside some time for that tonight.’

“I should quickly add, we have another set of standards we put our stories through,” Williams cautions. “But Jon’s always in the back of my mind. … When you make The Daily Show, it’s usually not for a laurel, it’s for a dart.”

But don’t worry:

None of this, the NBC anchor says, is to claim that Stewart and his crew have had some wholesale transformative effect on the news media.

Well, Stewart’s the symptom. 

When Cronkite ruled the airwaves, the media were the High Priests of Information; people trusted them (wrongly). 

Stewart is merely a high-concept extension of the same mass of skepticism that blogs, talk radio and the rest of the alt-media traffic.  It’s fashionably left-of-center enough for establishment liberal media figures like Brian Williams and NPR to recognize and ackknowledge.

21 thoughts on “King Of All Media

  1. Jon Stewart is no Conservative. He’s not even reliably middle-of-the-road. His show isn’t based on taking to task the mainstream media or Democrat politicians.

    If JON STEWART takes a swipe at you, you must have done something pretty bad.

    Okay, it’s a high bar. But at least there IS a bar. At least there IS someone who can call BS on the mainstream media without automatically being condemned as racist, homophobic, hateful . . . .

    It’s a start.

  2. I heard the same interview on MPR, “On the Media”. You left out little details which are salient, like Williams discussing appearing on the Daily Show, knowing and liking Stewart outside of those appearances (which I took to be an admission of possible personal bias). You also left out that the interview was marking Stewart’s 11th year today (Monday) on the Daily Show. Stewart has made a significant contribution to the success and longevity of the show.

    In all seriousness, I am not so sure that the earlier broadcasters were all so UNworthy of trust. Fact checking by the broadcast media seemed more highly prized than is evidenced by some of the current crop of cable newsies (both sides of the spectrum) for example.

    Beyond that, humorists / satirists have always had a significant contribution to how we view both the serious media and especially to how we view politicians and the political process. Back in his day, satire for example in Johnny Carson’s monologue could be devestating to success or failure of his contemporaries in politics.

    The recording of political statements and other programming is essential to much of what people like Stewart do, not just to the cable news or pseudo news. I think it does a marvelous job of catching individuals, regardless of their politics, and then holding them accountable.

    That, and I do find Stewart laugh-out-loud funny on occasion, and NOT only when he skewers one side of the political spectrum either. What Stewart did with Cramer from CNBC was serious, and at times funny, but mostly serious………and inceredibly well researched and well-documented.

    Stewart isn’t just comedy, or just news, he is a very successful hybrid of the two.

  3. Williams is no slouch himself at the brilliant ad-lib and has trumped Stewart in making sharp, inisightful and really funny comments on occasion.

  4. Only an idiot would get their news from the comedy channel.

    DG, we would love to hear what you have to say about SpongeBobSquarePants and the conflict in Afganistan. Or about BevisButthead and how the ObamaStimuLoss has been a disaster.

  5. Dog Gone said:

    “Stewart isn’t just comedy, or just news, he is a very successful hybrid of the two.”

    So he is a journalist with a built-in excuse for a lack of integrity (“But I was just being funny”)? Yeah, so worth that blank check from the bank of trust.

  6. “So he is a journalist with a built-in excuse for a lack of integrity (”But I was just being funny”)?”

    Contrast with FAUX News: “But we don’t care about integrity.”

  7. “But we don’t care about integrity.”

    Just Googled that one. The only hit comes from some blog called NFL Fanhouse, talking about Michael Vick. Or are you now quoting yourself, Clown? Because if you are, you’ve said funnier things.

  8. Fox News has never defrauded the American public to the extent that CBS & Rather did the the Bush TANG story. Not even close.

    Perhaps Mr. Clown cares to correct me?

  9. There can be no correction, Terry. Because the criticism of Fox News has never been about its news coverage; precious few people can even find a coherent criticism of the News department (other than some of their anchors being really bad at ad-libbing – and anyone who looks to news anchors for intelligence deserves what they get). It’s about the fact that their opinion programming skews to the right in exactly the same way as that on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and the Big Three have always skewed to the left; while the dominant chattering classes in this country are willing to accept relentless left-of-center opinion, any dissent from the right makes them soil themselves with fear.

    It’s the same as with Rasmussen polling; since their polls have led the others at showing Obama’s decay, naturally it must be a GOP front! Never mind that they’ve had the best record at predictions for the last couple of cycles; it’s all a GOP plot!

    Dissent terrifies liberals. First they ignore it. Then – now – they mock it. Soon they’ll attack it. And you know how that particular bromide ends.

  10. K-Rod wrote:
    “THAT’S RACIST!!!”
    Y’know, K-Rod, I am becoming convinced — judging by the hate-filled comments about conservatives Mitch gets from liberals like Pen, Tim in St. Paul, and of course Angry Clown — that they don’t particularly care for minorities. Instead they hate members of a certain social class of a non-racial-minority. Call ’em Rednecks, White Working class, White trash, whatever. Libs seem to spend a hell of a lot more time indulging their hatred of this maligned group then they do defending and promoting the rights of their minority clients.

  11. Lies from the right are simply an attempt to balance lies from the left, eh Mitch? There’s really no such thing as “facts” or “truth” is there?

    It’s that one bit of propaganda your side can’t seem to do without these days.

  12. All those “facts” that Rather reported on a straight news show — 60 Minutes — about Bush’s TANG service?
    The producer of that partisan fraud offered to put Joe Lockhart — a senior staffer for the Kerry campaign — in touch with their ‘source’.
    Like nearly all liberals you can’t tell opinion from fact, Angry Clown.

    How’s that global warming science thing going for you guys? I hear that in England they fell for it so hard they stopped repairing their snow plows — now they’re freezing and the heating oil trucks can’t get through the snowdrifts on the roads.
    If you have your way, we’ll all be freezing and starving in the dark.

  13. Terry, you are spot on. I bet Mitch could work some of that into his laws (if it isn’t already). Another bitter pill of truth for the libs around here to swallow.

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