Friday, February 13, 2009

Jon Stewart - Making The News Tolerable

The Master Of Fake News

With his fearlessly direct and biting political humor, comedian Jon Stewart gives a clear and wonderfully funny voice to widespread American frustration over Bush administration screw-ups and hypocrisies. If you are prone to severe anxiety attacks, Jon makes it safe for me to be made aware of world and political issues without the “It’s the end of the world as I know it, and we’re all doomed” sense that other news casts tend to trigger in me.

Airing four nights a week on Comedy Central, The Daily Show is a necessity for liberals and political-insiders. And a social studies parody book, America (the Book) published in 2004 remained on best-seller lists for months. I am in the process of re-reading it now. I was presented with a copy of his book “Naked Pictures Of Famous People” for my birthday and it remains on my bedside table even though I have read it more than once, because when I am in need a laugh, it keeps me well supplied.
With Emmy Awards and two of the ever exalted Peabody awards for excellence lining his shelves, Stewart brightly reminds us that you can inform others, be funny, and do it with genuine respectability. He covers American politics with his team of comedic “reporters” in a manner that is nothing less than hysterical brilliance…which is far preferable to the hysterical blindness that the madness of the political scene tends to induce.
The Daily Show has become the leading venue for opinion-makers' appearances, from Bill Clinton, John Kerry and John
McCain, President Elect Barack Obama and to newscasters Tom Brokaw, Anderson Cooper and Brian Williams, Actors, actresses and more authors than I can count from innumerable genres.
When Jon took over the reins of the then obscure Daily Show, he found his niche. The ratings the show have grown steadily as word of mouth spread from teenage and college aged Comedy Central viewers to their parents and grandparents. Since then, The Daily Show ratings growth has been unprecedented for cable.
Stewart graced the January 4, 2004 cover of Time magazine, and was named by Time in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential Americans.
Jon Stewart established himself as force to be reckoned with on the October 15, 2004 airing of CNN's annoying bark-fest ‘Crossfire’ when he nailed Tucker Carlson, conservative co-host, to the proverbial wall. "I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media...I watch your show everyday. And it kills me. It's so painful to watch, because we need what you do." Tucker got a bit pissy (to say the least) and was upset because he had expected to be doing an easy fluff piece with some comedian and it turned out that the comedian was smart, sharp, aware, astute and, heaven help us, bold. Here are a few quotes from/about that airing of Crossfire.

"They said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, 'I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow.'" --Jon Stewart, on his sniping match with Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on "Crossfire"

"You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show." --Jon Stewart, beautifully bitch-slapping Tucker Carlson during CNN's "Crossfire"

"What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably." --Jon Stewart, to Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala on "Crossfire"

Not long after that, CNN told Carlson to hit the bricks and he was terminated by CNN president Jonathan Klein who said, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise."

No matter what John Stewart does in the future, as long as he keeps speaking out, I predict that he will be a catalyst for change. On a near nightly basis, he calls the news makers on the carpet, makes us laugh at what makes us weep, thereby giving us the ability to live through the upheaval and insanity that is the modern world.

But that is just this liberal’s opinion…and there is always the possibility that I am completely wrong…but I seriously doubt it. He’s this generation’s Carson and Letterman hybrid, and I think his best is yet to come (No pressure John!)


[Clip of Bush: America needs to conduct this debate on immigration in a reasoned and respectful tone...We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger or playing on anyone's fears]
Jon Stewart: "That's what terrorism and gay people are for."

"President Bush's approval ratings have taken somewhat of a dive. A senior slump, if you will. Leading President Bush to one conclusion: He is the only one who realizes what a great job he's being doing." --Jon Stewart

"I do have some sad news to report. Bjork could not be here. She was trying on her Oscars dress and Dick Cheney shot her." --Jon Stewart, at the Academy Awards
"Capote, of course, addressed very similar themes to Good Night and Good Luck. Both films are about determined journalists defying obstacles in a relentless pursuit of the truth. Needless to say, both are period pieces." --Jon Stewart, at the Academy Awards

"Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt ... making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting veep since Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, of course, (was) shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird." --Jon Stewart
"Bush finally got to the real reason for the trip -- give us money for Iraq. ... It's the Bush version of the Pottery Barn rule -- we broke it, you bought it." --Jon Stewart, on Bush's European tour

"They always throw around this term 'the liberal elite.' And I kept thinking to myself about the Christian right. What's more elite than believing that only you will go to heaven?" --Jon Stewart

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