Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Political Cusack

John Cusack has written a somewhat rambling political rant over at the Huffington Post: On Bush, the Dems, Jon Stewart, Hunter Thompson, Bill Moyers, and King (not Don) What the essay lacks in focus it makes up for in passion. Great quotes from Thompson, Moyers, and MLK, but Cusack's commentary on Jon Stewart puts into words something that has been bothering me for a long time: ". . . when Republicans, who were the ones who led us into this war, and the ones whom he's so rightly skewering every night, sit across the table from him -- there is some kind of unspoken message being given that they are not part of the problem, that they can wink and laugh with Jon and the things he is making fun of. That they are not them, when in fact, they are . . . And they are getting a free pass to sit next to someone who speaks truth to power. They get reflected hipness just by sitting across the table from him, and the irony is that they share a laugh over the same things that he rails against. As an example, look at the jokey appearances by Bill Kristol, or David Frum. These are not dutiful soldiers standing by their president (which would be bad enough), these are the intellectual architects of the the invasion. Bill Kristol, the editor of the neocon house organ The Weekly Standard, came on and could barely keep a straight face when he said that Bush was a good president. And as anyone knows, reflected hipness on these types of men is a truly ugly thing. I would suggest each Republican must face a press conference, or a gauntlet perhaps, of Daily Show correspondents...or at least Lewis Black." I suspect Stewart would counter, "But this is comedy, people," but surely he understands the responsibility of his position? As Cusack points out a bit earlier in the essay, Stewart is all we have -- one of the few people with an audience AND the clout to get these guys to show up on his program. I suspect if he didn't give these guys a walk, they'd stop making appearances. What to do, what to do . . . D. Technorati Tags:

2 Comments:

Anonymous fiveandfour said...

Jon's in a tricky position.

Somehow The Daily Show has become one of the few places where there's actually something akin to journalism going on (for example the bits where they take a person's statement "I never said ___" then immediately run 10 clips of them saying just that, and how they show the hypocrisies of both political points of view) and thus people have come to rely on that show to tell some truth. Of course one of the hallmarks of comedy is speaking the truths that other people are afraid to speak, but where's the line between doing the job of the comedian and acting as a concerned and informed citizen who believes the foundation of democracy is at risk if real issues aren't a part of the public discourse? And how far do you go if you are leading a comedy show and you think it's important to have people from a variety of points of view feel they can come on and speak their piece and not feel they are just walking into a trap?

From what he's said in a variety of places, Jon doesn't believe it's his job to be America's journalist - it's his job to run a comedy show.

I, too, have felt the frustration of what seems like golden opportunities missed when some people have been on the show: what a perfect chance, it seemed, to have someone ask real and thoughtful questions in a setting where it would be immediately obvious if the person was dissembling. But then again, isn't it very telling indeed that this was the only place I had the feeling where someone might actually hold some feet to the fire -- isn't it telling that I desire it there instead of easily accepting that the purpose of The Daily Show is comedy because I can't think of a single other place where even a whiff of a chance for such conversations exists?

I don't know what the solution is beyond making The Daily Show a different kind of show, or just not doing those interviews any more.

11/13/2005 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

No, Stewart needs to keep doing comedy. You'll notice that he's harshest when TV journalists come on the program -- or when he nailed the Crosstalk guys on their own show. I suspect Stewart wants journalists to start doing their jobs.

Keith Olbermann, that's where I'm putting my money.

11/13/2005 01:24:00 PM  

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