March 08, 2009

Jon Stewart Calls Them Out

The Huffington Post analyzes the Daily Show piece ranting about the role of CNBC in the current economic depression (yeah, that's right. I'm not going to dance around the word that we should be using.)
The piece wasn't just the laugh-out-loud funniest thing on TV all week (and this was a week in which NBC rebroadcast the SNL "more cowbell" sketch, so that's saying a lot) but it was exquisitely reported, insightful, and it tapped into America's real anger about the financial crisis in a way that mainstream journalism has found so elusive all these months, in a time when we all need to be tearing down myths. As one commenter on the Romenesko blog noted, "it's simply pathetic that one has to watch a comedy show to see things like this."
Why be a curmudgeon about kids today getting all their news from a comedy show, when it's not really that hard to join Stewart in his own idol-smashing game?

Here's how:
1) Great research trumps good access to the powerful.
2) The American public is mad as hell right now, so why isn't the mainstream media?
3) Tear down this wall... of pretending that the media itself isn't a major player in American society, and isn't a factor in most big stories.
4) The First Amendment doesn't say anything about not being funny, or not being passionate.
Those are some great points, but I've got something MAJOR to add. A lot of people do not have the time or the inclination to watch three or four 24-hour news channels to learn about the world and to be quite frank, even these major news giants like CNBC, Fox, and CNN have a hard time filling those slots with items that are WORTHWHILE.

The Daily Show and the Colbert Report fill this void by filtering out the most outrageous and nonsensical stories by their media kin for the purpose of amusement and more often than not, a dose of righteous political outrage as well. When these shows are on Comedy Central, they make no bones about it -- their purpose is not to inform, its to entertain -- but they still pull off BOTH in 30 minute blocks better than 24 hours of filler news a day.

That doesn't make the "fake news'" position totally defensible because they feed on the nonsense news. Of course, there's no point in ranting about how they exaggerate the insanity by sharing Fox News clips with a broader audience that wouldn't otherwise care to watch them in context on Fox... because a comedy show would be nothing without absurdity.

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