God Bless Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart's recent appearance on CNN's Crossfire has made a bit of a buzz lately. It's about time someone had the courage to state the obvious: that the cable news chat shows are so relentlessly shallow and dishonest, that they actually leave people less informed for having watched them. The transcript is available here. For those who do not watch the show, the hosts are Paul Begala from the left and Tucker Carlson from the right.
STEWART: Will jump on it.
In many ways, it's funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad.
BEGALA: We have noticed.
STEWART: And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America.
CARLSON: But in its defense...
STEWART: So I wanted to come here today and say...
STEWART: Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.
STEWART: Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.
STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.
CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring.
CARLSON: Let me ask you a question on the news.
STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?
CARLSON: Thirty-five. STEWART: And you wear a bow tie.
CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do.
STEWART: So this is...
CARLSON: I know. I know. I know. You're a...
STEWART: So this is theater.
CARLSON: Now, let me just...
CARLSON: Now, come on.
STEWART: Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie.
CARLSON: They're difficult.
STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.
BEGALA: We do, do...
STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.
CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...
STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.
STEWART: What is wrong with you?
Of course, we certainly can't leave out this one:
CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.
CARLSON: OK, up next, Jon Stewart goes one on one with his fans...
STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.
It's a pity Stewart said all this on Crossfire. As bad and shallow as it is, it is hardly the worst of the cable news chat shows. That honor must surely go to Hardball with Chris Matthews, with O'Reilly being a close runner-up. At least Crossfire has Begala and Carville to agressively defend the liberal viewpoint. Most of the other shows are just as dumb and just as shallow, but are heavily slanted rightward to boot.
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