Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Conservative Backlash Against Jon Stewart

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 5:53 AM

To those who hate the mainstream media, John Stewart is king. His Daily Show is the only one willing to call bullshit on the nation's movers and shakers, unmercifully lampooning them nightly. As these people see it, Stewart speaks truth to power. Everyone else is a poseur.

This naturally doesn't sit well with media geeks. A comedian usurping our role as keepers of the one and only truth? Heresy, my good fellow!

But since his takedown of CNBC's Jim Cramer, the chorus against Stewart is growing louder, particularly from the right. Yesterday, Tucker Carlson returned fire, attempting to blister Stewart for not just intellectual dishonesty, but bad satire (see his own battle with Stewart above). And he accuses the rest of the media of giving Stewart a pass:

...There is a virtual ban on critical stories about Jon Stewart in the press. Nobody in memory has received a longer free ride. (CNBC stands in such awe of Stewart, the network hasn't even tried to defend itself, even against his claim that its programming might be criminal.)

The relationship between Stewart and the media is a marriage of the self-loathing and the self-loving: He insists their real news is fake, they insist his fake news is real. He doesn't take them seriously at all. They take him way too seriously. But nobody takes anybody as seriously as Jon Stewart takes himself.

A serious man needs a serious mission, however, and this is suddenly a problem. With Bush gone and the Republican Party in chaos, most of Stewart's targets have disappeared. Yet rather than pivot with the times and challenge those now in power, Stewart continues to attack the same old enemies, at this point mostly straw men and pipsqueaks. A couple of weeks ago, he spent an entire seven minutes mocking the crowd at a CPAC conference.

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