Anyone Still Doubt Jon Stewart’s Influence?

Don’t let the fact that The Daily Show is — first and foremost — a comedy series lull you into a false sense of security. Jon Stewart can kick some serious ass, as ably demonstrated on last Friday’s Crossfire with Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala.

And at this point, neither the right nor the left is particularly happy about it. Or, at least, so their alleged “spokespeople” (i.e., the other hosts of Crossfire, James Carville and Robert Novak) would have us believe. Out in the blogosphere (not that that’s any more representative of the real world), it would appear that the left-leaners are singing Stewart’s praises while the right-wingers are (shocker!) deriding Stewart as an unfunny hypocrite — while (for the most part) grudgingly admitting that Stewart’s point is substantively correct.

Was Stewart harsh? Sure — and my hat’s off to him for being so. The very notion that our media has a duty to present “balance” as opposed to “truth” is patently ludicrous — a position that, thankfully, is starting to gain some traction. But even so, a forum dedicated to simple screaming matches is hardly debate, balanced or otherwise.

Of course, you can check out the Post’s recap of the event of just watch the video for yourself. While you’re at it, don’t forget to give Stewart’s commencement address at William and Mary a listen (or at least a read, given that the audio no longer appears to be available), and whatever you do, you must pick up a copy of America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction. Just like its parent television program, probably the most informative treatment of American politics available today. (The audiobook edition’s also worth a listen, though it is — by necessity — a substantial abridgment.)

If they gave this book to high school students, I’d be willing to bet they’d actually learn something, as opposed to just parroting back meaningless historical trivia for a test. (Never happen, of course — at the very least, the infamous naked pictures of the Supreme Court justices will see to that.)

But then a well-informed populace is probably the last thing any political spin-meister — left or right — truly wants.


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