Media critic Howard Kurtz used a segment of his CNN show Reliable Sources today to discuss the Jon Stewart/Bill O’Reilly feud. Kurtz said that there was a valid point to Stewart’s criticism of O’Reilly. Some Fox News hosts have flipped from bashing liberal anti-Bush protesters to supporting conservative anti-Obama protesters.
Here is the video:
Kurtz asked panelist Anne Kornblut about Stewart’s point that how one describes protesters often depends on their cause. Kornblut said, “Well, I guess so. I’m glad he has a new target besides Olbermann. There’s a new fight going on. Sure. I mean, look, we have to be — I think all of us here are careful about how we describe the protesters and giving them credence. They operate in a different universe. And certainly, I think, Jon Stewart’s goal in all of this is to be funny first and probably accurate first-ish.”
That is the key difference between Stewart and O’Reilly. Stewart edits for comedic purposes. O’Reilly selectively edits to benefit his and FNC’s political agenda. I would take it a step further and add that Stewart makes no bones about his show being a fake news show, while O’Reilly claims that he runs a serious news program.
In the same discussion today, Clarence Page added that the line is being blurred between the news and entertainment. He said the real point is that it is ok now to slant your anchor coverage on cable TV now. Kurtz seemed to make the point that both Stewart and O’Reilly are entertainment shows.
I would agree that the FNC and MSNBC opinion based shows are entertainment. The only person I would leave off of that list is Rachel Maddow because she does try to inform her audience. I can’t remember the last time that I tuned into one of these opinion/entertainment shows and actually learned something. O’Reilly and Olbermann exist not to inform, but to confirm the opinions of their audiences.
As far as O’Reilly’s charge that Stewart selectively edits is concerned, Stewart doesn’t try to deceive his audience with tricky editing the way O’Reilly does. O’Reilly should have laughed off The Daily Show and not made it an issue on his show, because by doing so, he has highlighted his own hypocrisy. For some reason, the right wing wants to attack Stewart now, but I don’t think they understand that when they do this, they only serve to increase Jon Stewart’s credibility while diminishing their own.