Sunday, November 07, 2004

Jon Stewart in Syracuse, Oct 23, 2004: Excerpts

Yet another instance of the lone voice of sanity, Citizen Stewart, speaking out is available as streaming video from C-Span. This is a fine conversation, very different from his appearance on Crossfire or from anything else I've heard him say. It contains much advice about how we must move forward. And no, the comparison with Jimmy Stewart is not lost on me. Jimmy Stewart played an American Hero in movies. Jon Stewart is one, every day.

Some highlights are transcribed here, labeled with their times within the clip [still in progress]:

13:31 Stewart: Let me get back to the bad monkeys. The gist -- the essense -- to distill that -- what we require -- What I am advocating is that the media come work for us again. Remove themselves from the symbiotic relationship that they have developed with the power structures of corporations and of politics [Applause. Stands and assumes an oratioral tone.] And we as Americans can - we shall fight! Never give up! Never give in! Win win win!

[Sits]. Uh, I'm sorry. I don't know what happened there. No, it is all too comfortable. Look, we're busy. We have things to do in the world. And the corporate mentality and the political mentality is to create layers of, uh, obfuscation that make it diffficult to penetrate what's going on. And that's the media -- and the print media by the way is very different, and most of what I'm talking about is television. The print media is much better at providing context -- but you're providing it a week later, and by then everybody's moved on. I mean, that's the sad truth of it, the world moves much more quickly now. And the real responsibility now lies where the people set the agenda, and the agenda is set by the 24-hour networks. And unless you're keeping up with them, and unless they are held to a certain level of accountability, that's where the deficit lies.

Auletta: Let me just stay with that Jon. Last night, in the debate, you with the media had said what about the monkeys.

Stewart: Again, it's about a process, it's not about a moment. And so it's not about one debate, and it's not about one issue. It's about holding to account this idea that debate is two advocates for two corrupt organizations. That to have a Democratic strategist and a Republican strategist is not a debate. That's Coke and Pepsi discussing beverage supremacy. And it's not real, and to suggest that it is -- What I'm suggesting is that the person mediating that has to have some expertise. And has to have a job, and their job can't be "What do you think, Donna Brasil? -- What do you think Dave Buchanan? -- Okay, we'll be right back." That's not a job. That's doing nothing. And it's allowing two people to dominate a debate, that understand, and are strategists -- the television is getting their asses kicked, and they're doing it willingly, and that's the thing that's so frustrating to watch at home, because they have role, and they have a job, and they're not doing it, and that's what drives you insane when you watch.

Auletta: Go back to ....

Stewart: I should've ended with a joke.

Auletta: We'll give you another opportunity.

Stewart: Thank you.

Auletta: Larry King...

20:54 Stewart: This idea of liberal bias, by the way, that's a strategy. There's a difference between what Fox does, which is activism, and a so-called liberal bias, which is a bunch of people.... If you watch the news networks -- this is really the judge I think in my mind. Who would have covered the war differently as a network if a Democrat was in office? I think there's only one network that would have, I think, and that's Fox. So that's an activist stance. The bias of the media is not liberal, it's lazy and it's sensationalist, but it's not liberal. There is no active strategy. Which is employed on Fox, an active strategy of advocating for conservative or right causes -- and I think Roger Ailes would in a quiet moment, let's say if he was getting a hot stone massage, with release, would. But they are part of an overall 30-year strategy of putting together a way to reconsolidate power. By the way, well within their rights. I don't have a problem with that.

Auletta: You don't?

Stewart: No, absolutely not, because I don't consider them news. I consider them an active political arm.

Auletta: But when they say we're "fair and balanced" it doesn't bother you, if you believe that.

Stewart: If I believe it?

Auletta; If you believe what you said about Fox and yet they call themselves "fair and balanced" you don't think that's false advertising?

Stewart: Oh I absolutely believe it's false advertising. When did we start worrying about that? That's my point. If the presidential election commercials are not held to that standard, why should news organizations? That's what I'm saying: we've lost accountability. And just because they are, why whine about it? Why not create a television organization that's not liberal but credible. Why not create -- that has the same passion that Roger Ailes brings to his cause? And I admire what they've done, because what they've done is they've shown the way to a new paradigm, a new media paradigm, that this type of programming can be successful and profitable. But I don't think the answer to it is to set up Al Gore's television network and fight it with liberal strategy. (a) Because liberals are shitty at it, and won't be able to accomplish it. I mean, you watch Crossfire, watch Paul Begala's eyes whenever he has to do the partisan thing. He keeps them down. He feels shame. Liberals feel shame. Shame doesn't work when you want to accomplish that. But, imagine bringing to a 24-hour network -- and this gets back to our point about what should have been done differntly in the debate --


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