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Friday, November 12, 2010

First thoughts
Posted by Jill | 6:04 AM
Last night's discussion between Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart was something we haven't seen before -- a civil discussion between intelligent people of good will. I can't help but have the sense that Jon Stewart is telling liberals to take a knife to a gunfight -- for all that he's always bashing Barack Obama for doing exactly that.

Jon Stewart has been making the point for years that the nonstop cacophony of screeching on cable news over the last decade does nothing to address the problems we face -- and that's true. But what he seems to be asking Rachel Maddow and the other prime time hosts on MSNBC to do is unilaterally disarm and leave the screeching to Fox News, which he describes as "ideological" rather than "partisan", for all that the network pays almost all of the 2012 Republican presidential candidates as "correspondents" or show hosts and donates to groups like the Republican Governors Association.

Stewart's goal to turn the "You're a traitor!" "No, YOU'RE the traitor!" trading of accusations that takes the place of reasoned argument based on interpretation of evidence into the latter may be laudable. But there's a huge difference between calling George W. Bush a war criminal based on his now-admitted approval of torture (when torture is defined according to international law as a war crime) and Glenn Beck painting himself as an authoritative voice of fact and then doing a presentation which blames George Soros for everything Beck hates (George Soros being the favorite right-wing euphemism for "All-Powerful Jew"). And what Stewart seems to be saying is that since MSNBC still considers itself a news network, it should tone down the incendiary rhetoric and leave the screeching to Fox News. What he DOESN'T seem to realize is that not to answer the Fox News hosts' habit of pulling stuff out of their asses and then hammering it over and over again as fact (see also: the "Obama's trip to Asia is costing $200 million a day" lie) is to give it credence.

Is Stewart saying that we should just let accusations like that lie? Ask John Kerry how his assumption that the American people were too smart to believe the Swift Boaters lies worked out for him.

I understand why Jon Stewart, who has two young children and who devours cable news every day to obtain material for his show, has a vested interest in not seeing the outright evil of a president who takes a nation to war based on lies told to the citizenry. I understand him wanting to set Pol Pot as a benchmark, and create some arbitrary number of deaths that one has to cross to become truly "evil" or create distinctions between being a mass murderer of your own people vs. another country's. Because if you have children, and you believe that a president is capable of doing so, that a Congress that's supposed to provide checks and balances can blindly go along, and that the media will just regurgitate Defense Department talking points, then you will go insane projecting out the kind of country your children will inherit. It's much easier to believe that George W. Bush came from a position of goodwill and just made an itty bitty mistakey. The problem with that line of thinking is that you have to start believing that he made an awful lot of mistakeys for someone who cares about human life the way George Bush said he did.

I'm not sure what actually came out of last night's conversation, other than an increasing sense that for all his cynicism, Jon Stewart still retains the stubborn idea that the participants in the national shoutfest all come from a place of goodwill, that American politics is still a place where Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy can be great friends after disagreeing profoundly about politics. Fox News has made politics a blood sport, in which the opposition must not just be defeated, but pummelled to death and then having its corpse ass-raped repeatedly until it falls apart under the onslaught. Any media outlet worth its salt is going to combat Fox News' penchant for outright lies with demonstrable facts -- and even if you think Keith Olbermann is a self-iomportant bombastic jackass or that Rachel Maddow gets too passionate about the gay issues that affect her own life every day, the difference that Jon Stewart refuses to see between the MSNBC opinion show hosts and those at Fox is that at MSNBC, they don't just pull stuff out of their asses. Yes, it is opinion journalism over there at MSNBC, but at least they don't trot out a tagline like "fair and balanced" and expect people to believe it even in the face of a lineup that daily tells America that the president is a secret Muslim terrorist.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great summary! Like a lot of people, I guess, I had been looking forward to the interview - only to finish feeling like I had wasted an hour of time. Rachel can talk about things of substance - Jon didn't seem to have much substance on his side (granted he was quite sick). Bush's "itty bitty mistakeys" - I love that! - added up to a lot of lives lost, and ruined - and a country - the US - brought to its knees.

Blogger Serr8d said...
"Last night's discussion between Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart was something we haven't seen before -- a civil discussion between intelligent people of good will."

No chance of that rubbing off on you, of course.

Your hate runs deep and wide. You're likely unfixable, really.

Anonymous squatlo said...
I found the interview interesting because I love both of them, and usually DVR both shows nightly. However, I was profoundly disappointed in Stewart's assessment of Faux News as not being fundamentally "partisan", only ideological... whatever that means. When you fundraise for GOP candidates on-air, organize and then COVER "grassroots" tea party events as if they're the moon landing, and then put failed GOP candidates on various shows as hosts or commentators, I think that shows a partisan bias.
MSNBC is proudly liberal, and perhaps partisan, as well. But to conclude that Faux is just ideological ignores the fact that they've become the broadcast wing of the GOP's Republican National Committee.
I understand why Stewart hesitates to pass personal judgment on Bush, even though he "technically" qualifies as a war criminal... Stewart seems to be a genuinely friendly person who yearns to "get along" with his guests, even when he disagrees with them. I find myself finding things to like about everyone I meet, even the ones with whom I share no common ground. It's a Will Rogers thing, not to demonize a man.
But Bush did more than dishonor our country by authorizing torture, he committed War Crimes and should be held accountable for them at the Hague.
Simple as that. Anything less leaves us with no moral high ground to claim, and without honor as a nation.

Blogger marieDee said...
Thank you for the post and thanks to anon and squatlo for your comments! I watched a clip of part of the interview and felt let down by Stewart, just as I felt a little let down by parts of his speech at the rally.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
to whom is serr8d's comment aimed?
jill? anonymous? seems totally uncalled for in either case.
mrs jp

Blogger libhom said...
Bush murdered over 1.2 million people in Iraq. That certainly puts him in the same league as Pol Pot, especially if you also include Bush's mass torture and rape rooms.

Blogger Bartender Cabbie said...
While I very rarely agree with you I think that Serr8d may be a real hater. I have perused his blog more than once. Yes he is conservative and I am more conservative than liberal; one of those wishy washy middle of the road, leaning to the right types. On some issues very conservative and others not so much. Downright "liberal" on some issues also. I think you are passionate about what you believe. Nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
great post of summarizing the absence of integrity here in Jon's opinions. not holding Bush accountable or say "Bad" things about Bush /or hold anyone, especially LIARS, accountable for their actions.

Dare not blame those responsible for the deaths of 4,229 Americans in Iraq, why do that? for an "itsy bitsy mistake"!

false equivalency is what i felt upon hearing Jon Stewart March for Moderation. the lack of owning up to and equal blame for all . little responsibility for one's actions is what i hear through Stewart "plea for Moderation." There are Bad people, Good people and all kinds in between. why pretend otherwise?

the idea that both sides are the same is what i felt most disturbed with Joh Stewart's meme. No way around it. both sides are NOT the same.

Stewart's inference is what i couldn't put my finger on until much later and this post help crystalize the unease at what i heard/felt. i knew something was "askew" there.

Fox and the Republicans "Purposefully" and "Intentionally" mislead and lie and deceive. that is their choice. Americans love choice unless your pregnant.

and here Fox is quite pregnant. not even one day late. Fox is intentionally subverting truth to create "truthiness." Fox pretends, and makes no bones about it.

Maddow and Olbermann are not inciting lunatics to go bomb people and places. If they do, they are just as bad. i just don't see lunatics quoting Maddow when they kill abortion doctors and IRS agents or go after Policeman, Gays, Atheists or Foundations like Fox's number one LOON. Maddow encourages this kind of behavior?

Show me those who do the same and they will deserve the same shame and scorn that Fox rightly deserves.

obviously i have my biases, just I don't see such extremism on the left of the same "ilk."
the depth of the intentions involved is what i find so egregious, specious and false with the "both sides are the same" excuse.

this false equivalency is creating the same "hopelessness" which kills truth. Truth needs to be attested to, honored and defended. truth/Facts. Truth, that which can be proven true. not some "Opinion" that has no basis on "Truth". Otherwise, it is just more "Faith Based" Fantasy, not Reality.

the use of the "good faith" is a wedge, used to allow lies and spurious deception, permits lies to spread unchallenged and unquestioned. Like "well, that's not what i meant or intended" excuses used to escape responsibility for one's actions.

when Fox owns up to truth and not "TRUTHINESS," i will grant the idea that "both sides" are equally bad

i find Stewart's squeamishness at pointing out and standing up for cold hard facts as disturbing. this, "let's all get along," doesn't face the reality of the what is behind these intentions and Stewart comes off as a very passive nonplayer. Stewart seems to becoming like those in the Press he comically derides. i.e. sucking up to those in power, Stewart only partially bites the ass so he wont "offend," less he would lose "status or validation or connection" with those, when he does not push.

i watched the Daily Show cause Jon Stewart would say the truth, which wasn't cute or nice or safe. i love Stephen Colbert's sarcasm due to the biting truth involved. Jon is losing "credo" when he says both sides are just as bad.

4,229 people, 4, 229 Americans died in Iraq. thousands other Americans were physically or emotionally affected by "lies." No lies can change this fact.
But let's not go there, is what i hear.

this pretension is what has ruined America. and will continue to do so.

Blogger Jill said...
BC, that's why I always publish your comments and almost never publish his. You come here with respect for our writers and commenters as human beings, even if you do not agree with our viewpoints, and discussion with you usually falls into the category of "Intelligent people of goodwill can disagree." If you think this one comment is bad, you should see the stream of abuse that I DON'T publish from him.

Hate? Hardly. Hate is toxic and a waste of time. I am too busy and work too hard to spend my time trolling right-wing blogs and leaving abusive comments. It's not that I want to only live in a silo of like-minded people, it's just that with rare exception (and you are one of them), disagreement with the right has become grounds for them to do everything short of threaten your life (and if you read the hate-mail-a-palooza every week at DKos, you'll see that sometimes that happens as well).

So keep coming back, BC. I'll rarely agree with you, but I can always rely on you for lively discussion.

Anonymous mandt said...
Jon Stewart---remarkable example of institutional, delusional, hypocrisy, that characterizes the comfortable sympathies of the haute bourgeois.