CNN’s Reliable Sources did a segment on Jon Stewart’s appearance on Fox News last Sunday, and guess whose side they took?
Here is the video:
Here is the transcript from CNN:
KURTZ: David Zurawik, did Jon Stewart make the case that Fox peddles right-wing propaganda, or was he just being entertaining?
DAVID ZURAWIK, TELEVISION CRITIC, “THE BALTIMORE SUN”: I don’t think he made the case at all. He’s told Bret Baier that he approves of him, he’s told Bill O’Reilly he approves of him. Now he’s told Chris Wallace he approves of him.
So how do you get a 100 percent 24/7 propaganda machine if you have got three of their biggest stars are people he approves of? I think that segment that showed him saying Fox viewers are consistently misinformed, the bite you had was terrific. And then saying every poll shows this to be true —
KURTZ: Well, that was a mistake and we’re going to come back to that.
But let me turn to Glynnis McNichol.
Did Chris Wallace do an effective job of defending Fox News, or did he concede that the network is kind of set up to battle the mainstream media when he said, “We tell the other side”?
GLYNNIS MCNICHOL, MEDIA EDITOR, BUSINESSINSIDER.COM: I’m not sure he did as an effective job as he could. At one point, he pulled out a 6-year-old clip from Comedy Central. He seemed to sort of use the entire Comedy Central network against Jon Stewart, even though Jon Stewart obviously just hosts a half an hour show.
The point Jon Stewart I think was trying to make was that Chris Wallace said, “We show the other side ” and conceded that Fox shows the conservative side. But, I mean, I don’t know that Chris Wallace needed to do an effective job. His viewership are obviously fans of Fox News.
KURTZ: Right. Right.
MCNICHOL: So I’m not sure who he needed to convince.
KURTZ: Chris Wallace later said that perhaps not the best choice of phrase, “the other side.” Of course, they would say that they cover both sides. But, Aaron Barnhart, clue me in here. Why would Wallace invite Stewart on to rip Fox News knowing full well that that’s what he was going to do?
AARON BARNHART, “THE KANSAS CITY STAR”: Well, I think as he said in his intro, Howie, he wanted to — you know, they’re a fair and balanced network, and this is what a fair and balanced network does. Right? It presents both sides to the story.
But I just found the whole conversation a little bit dishonest. There was a lot of debating about ideology, and there was that line about being a comedian is harder than what I do. And if you were a tree, would you be Mark Twain?
And I went back and I looked at the tape — or I should say the Web video — and by the way, we should probably make clear here we’re not talking about what aired last week on “Fox News Sunday,” but what everybody watched and is commenting on, on the Web, the longer, unedited version of it.
ZURAWIK: You know, the statement about — Fox News did air the statement that Stewart made about it being –
KURTZ: And, in fact, since you both referenced this point, let me just jump in —
BARNHART: He said something about Bill Sammons the Fox News Channel executive, Bill Sammons, that got bleeped from the —
KURTZ: Right. Well, you say bleeped. I mean, the interview was edited. And I want to come back to that point, too.
(Kurtz runs the clip of Stewart’s response)
KURTZ: So, having made that mistake, was that an effective comeback? Obviously, he went on and on. We haven’t showed the whole thing.
ZURAWIK: It was effective for his supporters. I counted 21 errors that he went through by the time he was spitting Trail Mix out of his mouth. As comedy, it was a very funny thing.
But as a media critic, Howie, this is what drives me crazy about Jon Stewart. So many of my colleagues think he’s a great media critic and take anything he says as the truth. Listen, if — what he did was this — this would be “The New York Times” on their correction page saying, well, we made a mistake and we’re sorry for it, but “The Wall Street Journal” made 21 mistakes.
They’re we’re worse than us, we’re good. Forgive us.
KURTZ: In fact, Chris Wallace quoted you — quoted David Zurawik — during the interview and — you having said, “Stewart has never been held accountable in his media criticism.”
KURTZ: All right. Hold him accountable.
ZURAWIK: Well, that’s a case of it right there. I’ll tell you another case of it.
When he attacks CNN for its coverage of Anthony Weiner’s press conference where he called the CNN producer a jackass, horrible display. Dana Bash and that producer were doing exactly what journalists should be doing, and they were doing it politely. Dana Bash was the adult there who kept saying, well, I know you’re upset, but just answer this.
He calls them a jackass. And Jon Stewart makes fun of CNN. That’s Jon Stewart’s kind of media criticism.
And a week later, when Weiner says this is all true, I was lying to you, where is Jon Stewart? He pulls his punch in that Monday night show.
KURTZ: Let’s try to elevate this from the jackass category by going back to Glynnis McNichol.
Was that an effective response by Jon Stewart, to say, well, I screwed up, but you’re far worse? And what do you make of Zurawik’s point that he’s overly celebrated as a media critic?
MCNICHOL: Well, let’s just start with I think Jon Stewart going on Fox is genius for both of them because it’s good TV. Was his response effective? Absolutely.
I mean, it was right down the line, a quintessential Jon Stewart response. OK, I’m wrong, let’s turn this into a sharp, funny segment about why Fox is so bad, because it’s so easy and fun to demonize Fox, particularly for his audience.
I do think David has a point. I think Stewart manages to take the most ridiculous aspect of cable news and turn it into an entertaining show. And sometimes that means he’s an effective media critic and sometimes that means he’s just a very effective comedian or a satirist.
So, I think it’s hard to separate the two sometimes. And he does get a pass. He’s so entertaining. You’re never disappointed when you watch his show.
KURTZ: Let me have Aaron Barnhart break the tie here, because, look, Stewart admits that he’s a comedian first, but he obviously uses comedy and satire in order to make serious points, including skewering the media, and often Fox.
BARNHART: Yes. And I think he sees himself doing the job that a lot of mainstream people won’t do, which is to punch back.
And you know what’s really interesting? Sometimes when you hit the bully, he respects you. And I would refer people to the video of his interview with Bill O’Reilly, to go back and watch that, because what starts to happen is what didn’t happen with Chris Wallace.
You know, where Chris Wallace was sort of sticking to his guns and throwing out lines that — arguments that could have been made three, four years ago, Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly had a really reasonable discussion once they got done sort of hitting each other a couple times back and forth. But I thought they had a really excellent conversation about judgment and the way it’s exercised, why Fox News goes wall to wall attacking the Obama White House on common, but won’t go after Ted Nugent. I just thought that it felt to me like a conversation among peers and equals, and we didn’t have that last week.
ZURAWIK: That’s not what Jon Stewart said. Jon Stewart said he was so badly edited, he looked like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown during the whole thing. That was his morning after assessment.
KURTZ: Can I just point out that “The Daily Show” edits interviews, and Fox, by putting the complete 24 minutes, or whatever it was — Wallace said Stewart was filibustering — online —
If you watch the video or read the transcript, you’ll notice that CNN managed to cover all of Fox News’s talking points, while barely mentioning how the network edited out Stewart’s evidence of their intentional efforts to misinform.
What we have learned here is that the corporate media doesn’t like being criticized and made fun of. When push comes to shove, they will stick together. That is what happened on CNN. It is also clear that media critics themselves don’t like Jon Stewart on their turf. Zurawik can barely contain his contempt for Jon Stewart. Perhaps, he is a bit jealous of the weight that a comedian’s criticism carries compared to that of a serious media critic like himself?
This was a shoddy segment by CNN that seemed to go out of its way not to tell both sides of the story, but what should we expect from a network that has hopped in bed with the Tea Party Express and is doing everything it can to become Fox News Lite?
It seems that Jon Stewart has made plenty of enemies in the corporate media. The next time CNN gets up on their journalistic soap box about something Fox News has done, we should all remember that birds of feather will in the end always stick together.