After my earlier post on Stephen Colbert making George Bush his bitch, I spent a while ruminating. And I realised there was something else I was angry about. Why is it that the only source of honesty and real insight in American media is from a fucking comedy show? How is it even possible for public discourse to sink so low that the most intelligent, incisive take of current affairs is from a bunch of funnymen? (I'm not absolutely sure but I think most if not all of the cast of these shows are men)
I don't understand how those sad, pathetic, toadying jellyfish masquerading as journalists in the US media can look at themselves in the mirror.
We're slightly spoiled in Australia because along with the commercial drivel we have the flawed but reasonably objective and intelligent news and current affairs services of ABC (about a billion miles removed from the American ABC) and SBS. Mind you, we are cruelly abused by the total lack of the Daily Show and Colbert Report.
I want to highlight two particularly good clips featuring Jon Stewart (host of the Daily Show) that you can find on Youtube (and probably other places but I find it easiest to find videos on Youtube.)
A quite famous piece that is not actually from the Daily Show is when Jon Stewart appeared on CNN's "Crossfire", ostensibly to promote the Daily Show book America – Democracy Inaction. In a move not totally dissimilar to what Colbert did to Bush, Stewart took the show's hosts off-guard and went for their throats. The format of Crossfire (it's been taken off air now – maybe because Stewart made them look like idiots) was two talking head bickering over current events. One was a loudmouth right wing dickhead wearing a bow tie and the other supposedly represented the left but was a pathetic weenie (right wingers feel free to say this is a fair representation of all lefties – my witty rejoiner is "fuck you in the neck with a butter knife").
Instead of getting some free publicity Stewart spent time upbraiding them for what a travesty and a waste their show was. In his words, he wanted them to "stop hurting America." They were completely incapable of dealing with this – he totally showed them up for the chumps they are. Search for it with the keywords "Jon Stewart CNN Crossfire" and you'll find it.
Another piece you can find is the Daily Show's first broadcast after the terrorist attacks of September 11. The show didn't broadcast for a week or two after the attacks (I think most people were finding it more than a little difficult to think of laughing at the time). It was clearly difficult for Stewart to do the show and it is a bit difficult to watch but it's incredibly moving. Use the keywords "Jon Stewart Daily Show September 11" to find it.
What watching this brought back to me was the intensity of feelings at the time, I'd almost forgotten that. At the time I thought it was actually possible some good might come of the attacks. I hesitate to even mention good in relation to those barbaric acts (pick whatever the worst eternal punishment offered by your belief system may be – that's what these scum are experiencing now). There were actually two positive things I thought might come of all the pain and sadness.
One, the people and politicians of America might come to understand what's known quite well across Europe, Africa and much of Asia: political and military decisions can have very personal repercussions. And sometimes you can suffer terrible, terrible losses from attacks on your own soil. I think places that have been largely spared destructive international wars on their own soil, like Australia and America, can be very detatched from that possibility.
The second thing was that it seemed like this was such a terrible, previously unimaginable thing that everybody was going to pull together. Differences would be forgotten and decent people would pull together for mutual support. It was strange that something so sad could generate such positive feeling. And then Bush and his cronies went and fucked it all.
Watch the clip. It will break your heart.