Tuesday, October 19, 2004

If you haven't yet seen the CNN "Crossfire" clip of Jon Stewart slamming the noxious Tucker Carlson, it's worth seeing. Stewart comes across as surly and condescending, but it's all worth it when directed at the smug Carlson.

What's most revealing is the extent to which Carlson is a bit light in the brains department. Believing he's clever as a fox, Tucker goes after Stewart for not being tough enough on his own show. Stewart makes several attempts to explain to Carlson that it doesn't matter how his show is about anything since it's a comedy show. Stewart even reminds Carlson that his show comes after a show that has "puppets making crank phone calls."

At the very least, the clip clearly shows that Carlson, as with many political TV talking heads, believes he's an entertainer first, and a journalist or newsperson second. He's making actual comparisons of "Crossfire" to a politically-oriented comedy show that airs on a 100% comedy cable channel. It's obvious when watching the clip that he doesn't get it, and is the larger point Stewart tries (and tries) to make.

Rush Limbaugh is often up front about this (mainly when caught in one of his many lies) informing his listeners that he's an entertainer, a showman, not a serious political figure. It's a cop-out. He attempts to have it both ways, to be taken seriously and have influence but also to have an easy-out when needed.

Stewart let many opportunities slip away and I felt his message was a bit obtuse, though overall he was refreshing simply because you don't see folks mix it up on TV anymore. It was genuine (or at least I think it was.... perhaps Stewart and Carlson went for beers afterwards....).

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