comedy, journalism, tv

How Jon Stewart changed the media … CNN, at least

When a comedian hands you your ass on a plate, the best way to respond it to learn from it:

Stewart clearly has had an impact on other media careers and decisions, most notably on the termination of the political debate show Crossfire on CNN. The then-CEO of the network, Jon Klein, said when he canceled the show in 2005 that he was “firmly in the Jon Stewart camp” on the issue of cable news offering too much partisan arguing. One veteran CNN executive told me that Stewart’s determined efforts to hold that network’s feet to the fire had had an impact all the way to the top of CNN’s management.

via Bill Carter: How Jon Stewart Changed Media (and Made Megyn Kelly Cry) – Hollywood Reporter.

It’s a pity Fox didn’t respond the same way.


Jon Stewart: The last journalist?

At Popdose, Dw. Dunphy uses the Daily Show transition as a launching point for a sharp critique of the profit-driven cowardly news media, obsessed with landing big interviews rather than doing anything constructive with them:

In the messed-up, funhouse world of news transmission, the worst thought is that the true news companies are so compromised in their existence that they can no longer actually do the job as it needs to be done. They produce celebrities now; not any grizzled Edward R. Murrow types, if I may momentarily romanticize things. Stewart was as close as we had to that level of unchained reportage. I hope Trevor Noah will not fall back but will instead charge harder. If not, there’s not much left to count on, other than softballs, a swing, and a miss.

via “The Big Get” And The Jon Stewart Loss.

I still hope Jon Stewart is able to get another interview with John McCain before he departs.

comedy, journalism

Being funny vs. being political

Jezebel blogger Anna Holmes, who’s apparently getting a lot of opinion-writing gigs these days, offers up a curious assessment of Tina Fey:

Fey takes such careful pains not to commit to a position or offend anyone’s sensibilities that she comes off like one of the politicians she and her colleagues so roundly mock.

Holmes seems to be coming from the point of view that Democrats have been fairly weak in standing up for things in Washington. I’m not doing politics here, so I won’t comment on that.

But the issue here is whether you can expect comedians to pick up the slack for politicians. And the answer is: Not really.

Political comedians generally aren’t funny if they’re one-note partisans. To give the most glaring example: Janeane Garofalo has gone steadily downhill since she fully embraced strident politics. (The garish body art and voice ravaged by years of smoking and other abuse haven’t helped, either.)

The argument about Fey here is the same argument we hear about Jon Stewart. Political advocates often figure that someone who seems to be on their side needs to march right along with them.

But frankly, we don’t need more partisans. We need more Feys and Stewarts.

Comedy is a powerful tool for pointing out dishonesty and irrationality. Slap a party label on comedy, and it loses its honesty and rationality.

Comedy, like a lot of art forms, holds a mirror to the world. Don’t slap shaving cream over half of it and expect to see clearly.