Never Pick a Fight With A Comedian

August 21st, 2011

I actually wrote this a while back, but it seemed a little off key with the whole Republicans-holding-the-United-States-economy-hostage-in-order-to-get-their-way-in-a-political fight, crisis. Now that the memories are fading slightly, here you go…

Thought this recent skirmish between Jon Stewart and Fox News was interesting.

On June 2oth, Stewart appeared on Fox News Sunday for an interview with Chris Wallace. The interview featured some mild fireworks as Wallace ran a number of clips from the Daily Show and attempted to tar Stewart as a hypocrite for having his own biases while criticizing Fox.

Wallace is usually sited as the best example of a legitimate newsman at a network full of partisan hacks, but I was somewhat surprised at how much Wallace appeared to have drank the Fox Kool Aid, actually making the argument that Fox’s overt partisan agenda is in the same league as the more subtle biases of other news organizations. As Stewart noted, MSNBC may have attempted to follow Fox’s model, but it is not even close to Fox as an effective propaganda tool of the left.

Wallace’s biggest mistake in the interview was this attempt to create some equivalence between Fox News and The Daily Show. Fox is a partisan organization that tries to pawn itself off as a ”fair and balanced” news outlet, while The Daily Show is a comedy show that has no obligation or pretense of being a fair arbiter of the news.  Right off the bat, Wallace begins the fight with a disadvantage.

The coverage of the interview on the left mostly focused on the fact that Fox edited out Stewart’s comments about Bill Sammon, a Fox News exec whose released e-mails show him encouraging Fox News employees to deliberately distort the news in order to score partisan points for conservatives.

Stewart also got dinged by the Right for saying that Fox viewers were “consistently” the least informed of all news viewers. Politifact checked this statement and found that, while a number of studies had shown this, others had not, so Jon Stewart’s statement had to be considered “false.” Fair enough, but later that week, Stewart hit back on his show (see above), with a scathing scroll of the most eggregious false statements by Fox over the past few years, including Politifact’s “biggest lie of the year” for both 2009 and 2010 (can they get the trifecta this year? Stay tuned…).

The Fox propaganda machine went into high gear. Over a period of just a few days, they went on the attack against Stewart over a piece that he had done on presidential candidate Herman Cain’s (hopefully tongue in cheek) statement that he would only approve bills that were 3 pages or shorter. The party line on Stewart for the week was that Stewart was racist, refused to admit his political bias and that a conservative wouldn’t have been able to get away with those jokes.

But once again, Fox undermined their own point. First of all, by releasing a clearly coordinated attack on Stewart, they provided yet aother example of how manipulated their “news” coverage is. Second, arguing that Jon Stewart is racist is laughable, and finally, of course there’s a double standard: One is a comedian whose show airs right after South Park and a show that features puppets having sex. The other is desperately trying to portray itself as a “fair and balanced” news organization despite all evidence to the country.

Stewart’s response, makes the point well.

The lesson for Chris Wallace:

Never pick a fight with a comedian. You’ll lose every time.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.