North Wind And Sun

Animal abuse and taking (a slight) issue with The Daily Show’s media commentary

Posted in journalism, television by Ricardo Bilton on 9-June-2009

I have been giving the John Stewart/Steven Colbert programming another go these past few days, and noticing  that, while it is likely a regular part of The Daily Show’s programming, Stewart spends an inordinate amount of time criticizing television news personalities, as well as the entirety of Fox News.

I get it. It’s funny. The Bill O’Reillys and Geraldo Riveras and Keith Olbermanns of the media world are untapped havens of comedic gold. They are pre-made caricatures, neatly wrapped in suits and ties and neatly-combed hair, wearing the masks “journalistic integrity” and “complete seriousness”  too tightly to be seriously considered either. They create that aura, and their viewers immerse themselves in it. Fox News as a whole, of course, is even easier, and it is more often that not painfully transparent their transgressions against the very profession they so adamantly profess to be protecting.

But in watching The Daily Show, I have come to the conclusion that it is perhaps a bit too easy to criticize the television media. The lines that the Fox and MSNBC personalities have drawn between journalism and entertainment have been doused with kerosene and smudged beyond recognition. These figures have opinions – strong opinions – and no amount of so-called journalistic integrity is going to give them adequate reason to relinquish them.

Stewart spent over a third of Monday’s broadcast criticizing them. It was funny, to be sure, but also slightly tiring: I had heard the jokes before, and Stewart is the one who told them. Fox News, at this point doesn’t even need Stewart to ridicule them. And yet he soldiers on, playing clips of Sean Hannity and company ad nasuem. The Daily Show crew isn’t reporting on news so much as they are reporting on the news media, a watchdog wrapped in the fleece of comedic ridicule.

I can only comment so much because, after all, the whole thing invaribly makes for good entertainment. But I would advise John Stewart to take to heart the following comparrison: Poking fun at Fox News is a bit like yanking a cat’s tail. Sure, it’s funny  and exciting the first ten times, but after a while you sort of feel bad for the poor animal. And cats have a way of causing the nastiest little scratches.