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.

politics, tv

Former Daily Show producer: Enemies aren’t that bad

The weakest bits on The Daily Show, dating back to the Craig Kilborn days, are the “let’s go out and have an embarrassing conversation with a weirdo!” segments. The best of those segments come about when the subject is smart enough to get the joke but merrily plays along anyway. The worst is when it comes across as a whole lot of bullying at the expense of someone who clearly isn’t used to television at all.

So that’s one reason I enjoyed this confessional from a former Daily Show producer about going out in the field and finding out that some people really aren’t that bad. Misguided, maybe. But The Daily Show is at its best when it makes fun of the ideas, not the people behind them.

The “Daily Show” guide to my enemies – The Daily Show –


PolitiFact falls into the “both sides = objectivity” trap

Re: PolitiFact Rhode Island | Comic Jon Stewart says Congress met most Christmas Days in its early years.

PolitiFact Rhode Island gives this a “Pants on Fire,” a rating usually reserved for blatant, malicious falsehoods that fly in the face of evidence the speaker should or clearly does know.

The commenters on Facebook have calmly taken PolitiFact to task, saying this is nowhere near a “Pants on Fire.” It’s false, yes.

Here’s the bigger problem: The fact in question is from the History Channel (PolitiFact strangely leaves “channel” lowercase). Stewart was simply repeating it and citing them. The Daily Show could perhaps be faulted for not double-checking Congressional records, but most people would expect the History Channel’s research to be somewhat reliable. (Certainly more reliable than the typical cable talk show.)

But the headline, of course, isn’t the History Channel. It’s Jon Stewart. That’s sensationalism.

And PolitiFact’s agenda for making it about Stewart is rather transparent. Stewart is considered a left-wing voice — though, if you watch his show regularly, you’ll see that he’s fair, if not necessarily balanced. By taking a shot at a prominent “left-wing” voice, they appear to be balancing out all the “False” and “Pants on Fire” rulings they have to give from the GOP debates.

PolitiFact simply can’t operate that way. If one “side” is telling more falsehoods than the other, so be it. That’s not a value judgment on either party — this year, we have a lot of Republicans running for president and one Democrat who hasn’t really shifted into campaign mode, so you’re simply going to have more to evaluate on the Republican side. If we had eight Democrats running for president right now, PolitiFact would surely have some crazy crap to analyze from those debates.

Stewart, moreso than most actual journalists, realizes that you can’t get at the facts by taking one from Column A and one from Column B. And that’s why, if PolitiFact continues down this path, he’ll be a more reliable fact-checker than PolitiFact.



Piling on! Oh no!

We can’t really expect news organizations to investigate their own companies on the air. It’s a conflict of interest, surely.

But it’s also a conflict of interest to go on the defensive, particularly when you’re so obviously glossing over facts and being hypocritical.

Horrible Bosses – Fox News Won’t Dumpster Dive – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – 07/19/11 – Video Clip | Comedy Central.

Parliament hauled in Rupert Murdoch for some face time. Let me know when Congress brings in NPR executives to ask if they’re jihadists.

(Disclaimer: This isn’t political opinion. Just the facts. Delivered by Jon Stewart with a sense of humor.)


journalism, sports

Have bloggers surpassed traditional journalists?

It’s a stupid question on many counts. Some “bloggers” in this post are actually professional advocates. Others are semi-pros who aren’t about to quit their day jobs but are getting money to drive traffic.

But however you define them, these non-traditional pundits and newsgatherers are often proving themselves far more nimble than the corporate folks.

Case in point: The story of Rep. Anthony Wiener and a mysterious semi-lewd photo on Twitter, as explained here by another non-traditional outlet, The Daily Show:


For those who don’t have time to watch the clip or unfairly label Stewart as a “liberal” unworthy of attention from right-thinking folks, the nutshell is this: Bloggers of various inclinations are digging up actual facts about the incident while CNN seems powerless to do so.

Sure, the blogosphere also is capable of digging up sheer dreck, giving a safe haven to birthers and other conspiracy theorists who enjoy inventing their own “facts.” But in best-case scenarios, they’re also capable of legitimate crowdsourcing.

That’s also the case with FIFA and CONCACAF shenanigans. Check the roundup on my other blog, SportsMyriad, and you’ll see that the indie media have certainly taken the story and run. Bill Archer has been a one-man FIFA/CONCACAF watchdog for years, while Tom Dunmore has contributed a must-read FIFA history that explains why so much of FIFA hates England and how the organization has simply swapped one bad habit for another.

In most respects, the “bloggers” (whether they operate a reverse-chronological site or not) are welcome voices, adding vital information. That’s great.

But we don’t want the big organizations to go away. When you have a lack of media oversight, you have … well, FIFA and CONCACAF, where the only people taken to task through official channels in the past week are those who have dared to ask questions.