Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Carlson Replies to Stewart

Here's a brief AP report about the feud between Crossfire host Tucker Carlson and Daily Show host Jon Stewart. See yesterday's post for the background.

Carlson on Monday fanned embers still hot from their “Crossfire” confrontation, saying Stewart looked ridiculous during his CNN appearance and was a sellout for publicly backing Democrat John Kerry for president.

Carlson is kidding himself if he thinks he won their Crossfire exchange. What really happened was that Carlson and Begala were caught completely off guard by Stewart's criticisms. Begala at least made some attempt to defend the show. Carlson just lamented that Stewart wasn't being funny.

Carlson noted that many of the great comedians kept their political opinions to themselves, not for fear of offending anyone, but because it could hurt their art.

“You're selling out,” he said. “If you are a satirist or an acute social observer, and he is, and all of a sudden you suspend disbelief on someone or suck up rather than prod or poke someone, people will look at you and say, 'Even if I agree with you, I don't like it,'” he said.

That's pathetic. Stewart's criticisms of Crossfire had to do with its shallowness and its frequent descent into silly partisan bickering. The debates they have, such as they are, have more to do with talking points than with getting at the truth of anything. For Carlson to respond to this by attacking Stewart is rather childish.

The Daily Show goes after whoever is making news that day. Since most days it is the Republicans making news, that's who they tend to focus on. As for selling out his art by saying, when specifically asked about it, that he will be voting for Kerry, please.

The fact is that the Daily Show manages to get closer to the truth with a few well-placed jokes than Crossfire does in a week of phony debates. That's why Carlson is so touchy about it.


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