You can dismiss this as payback or whatnot. And that's fine. But it doesn't change the fact that T.C. is, in every particular, dead right.
For instance, on the Cramer ambush:
Stewart summed up the significance of what Cramer had said on the tape: “You can draw a straight line from those shenanigans to the stuff that was being pulled at Bear and at AIG, and all this derivative-market stuff,” he said sternly.
Except that you can’t draw any such line. In the video, Cramer hadn’t mentioned derivates or securitized loans or credit-default swaps, or any of the other exotic financial instruments that caused the fall of AIG and the current recession. There’s no evidence that Jim Cramer had anything to do with any of that, and Stewart didn’t offer any.
Before Cramer could defend himself, Stewart moved on to a new charge: Cramer and his colleagues at CNBC had known that the financial sector was in imminent danger of collapse, but had pretended otherwise—a ruse that Stewart described as “disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.”
This was even more farther-fetched. A ratings-hungry TV network had the scoop of the decade but decided to sit on it? Why? In order to curry favor with soon-to-be-disgraced corporate executives? It didn’t make sense.
On Stewart's real-fake-real journolistic treatment of Democratic presidential nominees:
at times Stewart seems like less a comedian than a courtier to the establishment. In August 2004, a week before the Republican convention, Stewart got an interview with then-candidate John Kerry. At the time, reporters covering Kerry couldn’t get closer than the rope line, so the interview qualified as a booking coup.
Stewart squandered it embarrassingly. His first question (after, “How are you holding up?”) was: “Is it a difficult thing not to take it personally” when your opponents are mean?
“You know what it is, Jon?” Kerry replied. “It’s disappointing.”
Four years later, Stewart had become, if anything, even softer. Over the course of a reverential eight-and-a-half minute interview with Barack Obama six days before the election, Stewart failed to ask a single substantive question, much less venture into policy (though, as with Kerry, he did open with, “How are you holding up?”). Instead, like the cable-news morons that he often criticizes, Stewart stuck strictly to the horserace, at one point even resorting to a sports metaphor.
And he sucked up, hard. “So much of this has been about fear of you,” Stewart empathized. “Has any of this fear stuff stuck with the electorate?”
Facing puffballs like this, Obama coasted through with snippets from his stump speech. The result wasn’t simply uninformative, it was boring. Obama didn’t say a single interesting thing, and Stewart wasn’t funny.
And on the fact--which no one else seems willing to say out loud--that Stewart simply isn't funny:
A serious man needs a serious mission, however, and this is suddenly a problem. With Bush gone and the Republican Party in chaos, most of Stewart’s targets have disappeared. Yet rather than pivot with the times and challenge those now in power, Stewart continues to attack the same old enemies, at this point mostly straw men and pipsqueaks. A couple of weeks ago, he spent an entire seven minutes mocking the crowd at a CPAC conference.
His studio audience loved it, though that isn’t saying much. Stewart’s audience would erupt if he read the phone book, or did his monologue in German, a response that over time is a threat to any man’s soul. During many segments, Stewart’s audience doesn’t laugh so much as cheer, a distinction that would bother most comedians. Stewart keeps them around anyway. Uncritical praise corrupts absolutely.
As Stewart becomes more self-righteous, he inevitably becomes less funny. Sanctimony is the death of humor, and also of innovation. Where a show like South Park challenges its audience’s every conceivable assumption, The Daily Show has become safer than Jay Leno, pandering night after night to the converted."
Seriously: Just give David Brock that time slot. He'd get the same numbers. The only difference would be that the rest of the media wouldn't bother to pretend that Brock was either funny or sage.
Or give Dane Cook the slot. He'd get better numbers with material that might, every five episodes or so, earn an actual snicker.