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October 16, 2004

Now With Memetic Relevance

Posted by Mike on October 16, 2004 8:06 AM

Jon Stewart showed up on Crossfire to plug a book, and walked away my hero for at least the next few weeks.

If you read the reductionist version of Stewart's appearance, you'll probably walk away with "OMG! Jon Stewart totally called Tucker Carlson a dick! LOL!" which is true as far as it goes, but it misses the other 20-odd minutes of Stewart taking Carlson and Begala to task for, well, for sucking; and for taking the opportunity to get people on their show to engage in a real debate and wiping their asses with it in the name of keeping things entertaining.

It's one of those rare moments of public sincerity that causes one to lean forward and watch a little more closely, because it's obvious that Stewart's nervous, a little upset, and aware that he's in the tank with a pair of seasoned asshats who really don't give a good god-damn what comes out of their mouths as long as it sounds like it has wit-like content.

Ed has some linkage to the footage as does Wonkette, but you should give Ed the traffic because he's a good guy and because Wonkette's "smart, dumpy girl who finally gets to hang with the cool kids" narrative has, in less than a year, entered into the inevitable and sad phase wherein the smart, dumpy girl pretty much becomes as big a tool as the bullies who were laughing at her in the lunchroom.

Because, like Carlson, she's escaped the dreary confines of having to actually report the news, it's understandable that she shares his lack of patience with lectures about the civic responsibility of the press. Because recognizing sincerity in others might actually cause her own shriveled conscience to itch or even pain her a little, it's natural that she'd characterize Stewart's comments as "pandering."

When you sit around asserting that everyone's bought, you can make your own disconnection from meaningful or conscientious action seem somehow virtuous.

I know, I know. Lighten up. She's just joshin'.

They're all just joshin'.

Related pudding:

Crossfire and every Sunday morning show where matched teams of ideologues scrum are a toxic result of analysis culture. They turn political issues that will have an effect on millions into a chummy game of one-upsmanship and backslapping bonhomie between members of the analyst class who want to make it very clear that at the end of the day the whole thing is a collegial debating society for the tragically witty. The language is hot, but the underlying attitudes and takeaways about political discourse are cool. Paul Begala and Robert Novak shouldn't be ending each episode of Crossfire with a congenial smile and a sly wink across the table, because the things they're discussing frequently involve the potential for untold human suffering. If they really consider themselves involved advocates for the issues they're so faux angry about, there wouldn't be so much smug "All in good fun" winking and smirking across the table, and there'd be more real incitement.

Update: Snappy's found the best summary of the encounter so far. And while we're sayin', Snappy needs to stick around.


Thank you. I was just about to start actually reading Wonkette, on the basis of Nate liking her and her getting back into your good graces, then I read this bit and I don't think I can ever listen to her again.

I really wanted to hear what you thought of this latest bit. That's kinda what I hoped you thought.

Posted by: Ed Heil at October 16, 2004 9:48 AM

i'm not usually a john stewart fan, but "sincere" is totally the right word here, and it makes me squirm, especially when he's begging them to talk straight to him before going to commercial. meh. but i am so very impressed that he would choose to do something like this and see it all the way through; i mean, it's not like he said his one admonishment and returned to joking.

alas, i never liked wonkette.

Posted by: gl. [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2004 5:22 PM