Friday, October 22, 2004

More on Jon Stewart

I'm increasingly bothered by the coverage of the Jon Stewart-Tucker Carlson Crossfire exchange--which seems to be either the beatification or canonization of Stewart. I can't tell which.

Why is Stewart getting such fawning treatment for doing what, on the civility scale, is the sort of thing you'd expect from Morton Downey Jr. or Howard Stern? Well, I've got a theory.

What bothers me about Stewart's behavior isn't that he called Tucker a dick, but that he trashed Crossfire. I'm not a regular watcher of Crossfire, so I can't testify to the truth or falsity of Stewart's claim that Crossfire sucks--but I do know that the producers and staff of Crossfire invited Stewart on not as an expert, but to help him sell his book. They were trying to help him pay his mortgage. As such, it seems to me that basic politeness dictates that Stewart shouldn't have used that venue to attack the work of the people who were trying to do him a favor.

But this incident has morphed from Stewart's attack on Crossfire to a specific feud with Tucker. And, in case you haven't noticed, Stewart is a liberal icon and Tucker is a conservative. As such, the New York Times & Co. have rushed to take Stewart's side and applaud his bravery and honesty.

So let me ask this: If Stewart had gone on Crossfire and conducted himself in exactly the same way, but he had called James Carville (or Begala, for that matter) a dick, do you think he would still be getting the hero's treatment?


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, Jonathan. The only thing I'd add is that to me, the telling aspect of the exchange was that only Carlson was prepared to call Stewart on his outrageous lack of civility. Of the four Crossfire hosts, the least deserving of the label "partisan hack" is Carlson, and the most deserving is Begala. But Begala sat quietly while Carlson defended his honour - and for that, Carlson is getting pasted this week for daring to cross a media darling. Not for the first time, Begala should be ashamed of himself.

Unknown said...

Well, let's be honest, Crossfire didn't invite Stewart on to help him pay his mortgage. They invited him because he's popular and funny, and they want people to watch their show. Let's not make this sound like Stewart was rude and violated their hospitality. The purpose of Crossfire is to talk about your views, and Stewart chose to express his opinions rather than act as their "monkey."

Also, Stewart has made his opinion of Crossfire very well known. The producers invited him on the show knowing that he has made these statements. For Stewart to publicly declare his disapproval of Crossfire only to go on the show, tell some jokes, and increase their ratings would have been dishonest.

Stewart may be liberal, but he only focused on Carlson because Begala didn't say anything. The Daily Show proves every episode how unpartisan it is-they attack every side and every view. That's why people watch the Daily Show for their news instead of CNN, because they get a group of cynics attacking liberals and conservatives instead of "partisan hackery."

And this is all coming from a conservative, so it's not only the liberals who like what Stewart did. So yes, if Begala had had the guts to speak up for himself, Stewart would have called him a dick, and he would still be praised for it.

If you don't find Stewart's appearance entertaining, you're probably too blinded by partisan paranoia.