Sunday, October 17, 2004

The dinner party

There has been a lot written about Jon Stewart's appearance on the CNN show 'Crossfire'. In the long history of 'Crossfire', Stewart is the only person to point out to its hosts what an extreme pile of bullshit it is, and how the public interest is not served in wasting such an opportunity to actually challenge the lies told by the politicians who appear on the show. Stewart doesn't mince words:

"STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.

BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes.

STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks."

Why are they such hacks? Here is the most telling part of the show (my emphasis):

"STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.


BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.

CARLSON: I can tell you love it.

STEWART: It's so - oh, it's so painful to watch.


STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.

CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?

STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore.


STEWART: I just can't.

CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities? STEWART: If I think they are.


CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible."

Mega-dweeb hack Carlson is obviously caught completely off guard by the fact the only real attack he's ever received in his life is coming from a comedian. Stewart only had a chance to be on the show as they all assumed he would play the game and just tell safe jokes. Carlson's shock at the attack causes him to make an honest response: 'What's it like to have dinner with you?' In a nutshell, that is what's wrong with the disgusting American media. They treat their jobs like some kind of dinner party. Within carefully bounded limits, you are allowed to have civilized conversation at this big media dinner party, but anything that even slightly challenges the social conventions of the elite is completely off limits. The deep corruption of television journalism has been accomplished by inviting the journalist stars to the dinner parties of the plutocrats, and making them feel that they belong. The fact that they shill for the establishment is not necessarily because they are partisan Republicans - in fact, most of them probably aren't - but because they are so grateful to be invited to the right dinner parties that they don't want to embarrass themselves, and perhaps be disinvited, by even coming close to asking the 'wrong' questions. In other words, they don't consistently and slavishly support the status quo because of their own political convictions, but because they actually feel it would be impolite to challenge those who have been so kind to invite them to dinner. Carlson can't understand what Stewart is talking about when he asks that they do their jobs by challenging the people they have on the show. Journalists have become so deeply corrupted they are incapable of seeing what they are doing wrong. Without responsible journalism, you can't have a democracy, and that's where the United States finds itself today.


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