— What is Jon Stewart playing at? I’m a big fan of The Daily Show star and think he’s done a great job in the past, so it pains me to write this, but WTF?!? Okay, so to make his point at the Rally to Restore Sanity he tossed Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz under the same bus reserved for Glenn Beck and Fox News. Last Monday, Olbermann graciously took his point and even cancelled indefinitely one of my favorite Countdown segments, “Worst Persons in the World.” But the other day on TDS, here’s Stewart heaping honey on Chris Wallace of Fox News and agreeing to appear on Wallace’s “Fox News Sunday.” Yes, he took a few mild swipes at Fox’s obvious Republican partisanship, but he also equated MSNBC, the home of Olbermann and Schulz, to a AA ball club compared to the Big Leaguers at Fox. He didn’t mean that in a complimentary way, but Jon can’t seriously believe there is any parity between what Fox does and what MSNBC does. (For one thing, Fox doesn’t give a liberal Democrat a three-hour weekday morning program, as MSNBC has with conservative Republican Joe Scarborough.) Put simply: Fox lies, as Stewart well knows, and MSNBC’s progressive hosts, even though they may display passion for their side, don’t. You can’t possibly have a restoration of sanity without fact, and Jon Stewart knows that, as well. So, why is Stewart trying to make them both seem equal? A few possibilities:
1. Since the hosts at MSNBC won’t be invited on Fox – even Ed Schultz is banned now, I’ve heard – perhaps Stewart sees himself as the voice of reason who can parry the thrusts of the Noise Machine and inject some truth into Fox’s stream-of-conspicuous nonsense. To do that, he must maintain some semblance of being ‘reasonable,’ which means to the right-wingers attacking MSNBC and progressives. Note: If this is the case, Obama has tried this tactic for the last two years and just had his head handed to him. It doesn’t work.
2. Maybe Stewart just has some personal animosity toward Olbermann and Schultz and he’s taking it out this way. That would be mighty petty of him, but nobody’s perfect, particularly in an ego-driven arena like show business.
3. This is the ugly one: Comedy Central is owned by corporate media giant Viacom and it’s possible they finally noticed TDS and Stewart have had quite an impact on recent elections and the voting trends of those under 30. Was Stewart brought in by Bush-backer and Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone for a pointed “Network” reminder of who signs his paychecks and told to back off? I have noticed Jon has been much more civil to right-wingers this year, even bottom of the barrel types like Bill O’Reilly. I’d hate to think the reason he’s promoting this ‘equivalency’ is that he doesn’t want to end up back humping the comedy club circuit doing 300 “Hey, I’ll be at McLaughington’s in Akron on Friday!” road gigs a year. He’s now a middle-aged man with a home, wife, family and a pile of bills – powerful reasons to toe the corporate line.
4. And this is the really horrible one: Perhaps his head is being turned by the ‘charm’ of the right-wing corporatists; they can be very persuasive ‘good guys’ in person, unless you remember the whole fetid history of the Republican Party of the past 30 years. I recall when Dennis Miller had his HBO show years ago: first he brought on right-wingers to lightly mock them, as Stewart does; then he had them on to explain their positions while he nodded his head; then he became one of the Pod People himself. Miller should be a warning of what happens to those who turn their backs on sanity and the facts – they end up losing their core audience, and money, as they perform for a bunch of dimwit thumbsuckers who don’t get their jokes.
5. Even more horrible than the last one: Stewart is angling for a nice, long-term berth at Fox hosting a TDS-style political satire show. It’s no secret Roger Ailes has been looking to compete with TDS; what better way than to back up Murdoch’s money truck and hire away Stewart? (Think Karl Rove: attack their strong point.) I’d hate to think this is Stewart’s motivation, but it’s a possibility.
Whatever the reason is, I wish Stewart would, in the interest of fairness, have Olbermann and Schultz as guests on his show to present their side, as he does with the Fox Newsers. (And Olbermann and Schultz should reciprocate by having Stewart on their shows to explain himself.) Let’s clear the air.
I hope this is all a tiff among friends, rather than the creation of another Miller monstrosity or Ailes attack dog.
(H/T to Bartcop.com for the graphic.)