oct 18

Jon Stewart vs. Tucker Carlson

If you ran into me around town or on IM this weekend, I most likely forced you into a conversation about the Jon Stewart appearance on Crossfire on Friday (video | transcript), which I've been hyperbolically calling the most important political debate of the year.

So far, it seems everyone is thrilled to see Stewart throw a pie in the face of Crossfire. My take has been a bit different: I don't think this is a good move for Stewart. I wrote some of my reasons why on the Lost Remote board, but the gist is this:

  1. Considering all the shit that gets passed off as "media" nowadays, Tucker Carlson is a bad target. I actually kinda like Tucker because he's really not a wonk reading from the Republican talking points. He seems to actually think that Bush is going to lose this election, and isn't afraid to criticise the administration. He's no douchebag [Robert Novak, where are you?].
  2. Stewart is starting to look cowardly for his "I'm just a comedian" canard.
  3. Last week, Stewart endorsed Kerry (or at least, said he was voting for him). This is a big mistake -- he's starting to look like he wants to be everything at once: critic, comedian, citizen. I'm worried his strategy here will ultimately alienate him.
  4. Crossfire actually isn't that bad, at least if you compare it to some of the other political talk shows.
  5. You can't seriously criticize Crossfire for being a blowhard screamfest and then call the host a "dick." Dude, that's like ironic in the bad way. (It's also monstrously funny.)

Don't get me wrong, I think the whole event was fantastic television -- and immensely important for entertainers and journalists and politicians (if you can even distinguish between these anymore) to see. The most accurate condemnation was Stewart calling Crossfire "theater" -- but even that's a double-edged sword, because politics has always been theater. In some larger sense, I think Stewart is right about the tenor of political discourse as fed to us by the media. But I'm just worried that my boy Jonny is going to end up the next Bill Maher.


Wonkette interviews Carlson. (Best line: "It was like being lectured at by Kathleen Hall Jamison!")

Drudge: Daily Show down down 7% from August.

Torrent video link | iFilm video link.

Metafilter thread.

Daily Kos thread.

PoMo Blog thread.

WaPo story.

MTV story.

Slate story.

Salon story.

Tucker's PBS show.

Mr. Carlson (WKRP) vs. Mr. Carlson (CNN).

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