Watch Part I here:
In the interview, the usually loveable, goofy, self-effacing Stewart comes across like kind of a dick -- he's hostile and openly unhappy to be there. But he's also a well-spoken, well-informed, and well-justified dick, who makes a case for his role in the media and his show's political underpinnings much better than Wallace does. Wallace, whom I've always thought was a rather genial, likable guy himself, comes across as humorless and out-of-touch; a stern, unyielding grandparent bent on disciplining an unruly whippersnapper. This is no more clearly evidenced than in his choice of arbitrary, ineffectual Comedy Central clips intended to illustrate bias and disreputability, but which succeeded in demonstrating, if anything, how completely Wallace/Fox misunderstand the purview of "The Daily Show."
What Wallace -- and, I think Fox generally -- doesn't get, is that Stewart occupies a uniquely powerful role in the media, especially among the demographic least touched by Fox News. "The Daily Show" is the primary news source for millions of people -- nay, millions of voters. So I can't help but think it was unwise to bring Stewart on the show only to throw him on the Tea Party pyre, with Wallace desperately lighting matches underneath him in a growing windstorm of counter-arguments.
How much better would it have been if the interview had been conducted by someone conservative and intelligent like Wallace, but someone who actually grasped what "The Daily Show" was all about, who processed Stewart's role as an entertainer-and-comedian-cum-newsman, who understood Stewart's brand of satire and was willing to admit the ripeness of the modern political climate to be parodied? What if the host had been someone who didn't take himself quite so seriously, and who, with genuine respect and curiosity and openness, had asked Stewart urgent and deeply interesting questions about his role in the changing media environment? Who would have pressed Stewart on some tough questions about his influence and culpability? Who would've listened to Stewart's answers? Wouldn't that have at least accomplished something for the Right?
Watch Part II here:
The most interesting part in the interview, I thought, was the all-too-brief discussion where, after Stewart asserted he was a comedian first and a pundit second (shortly before he told Wallace that "what I do is harder than what you do," which may be true but was kind of a dick thing to say), they discussed whether Stewart avoided being held accountable for his media criticism by being a comedian.
|No Respect At All!|
I don't agree with everything Stewart says, but I do think he makes cogent points worthy of a more respectful debate, especially about the way the Right has risen up to fill the new arena of 24-hour news more adeptly than the Left, and how that changes the political playing-field. If you want to watch the interview and share your thoughts, I'd love to hear them. But please, watch the entire interview, not some of the three-minute yelling clips circulating on Youtube.