OK after reading the commentary around the web, I finally saw the much talked about interview with Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart. It leaves me very sad, and disappointed in “the left”. I think Jon did a great job explaining his intentions and what the rally was. “I could have gotten on the field” he said in trying to show a distinction between himself and real activism. He also did an excellent job explaining his show and what he considers “media”, what leaves me sad is that Rachel just did not get it but stayed stuck on trying to make the “leftie points”. I don’t understand why she didn’t get that Jon’s show is a criticism of news. Jon is saying there is very little journalism going on in cable news, and everything is sensationalized, when there is a real opportunity to do in-depth reporting because they do have twenty-four hours of time to fill. Instead of showing lock-up/lock-down MSNBC could do real investigating , and try something different like exposing corruption as apposed to just mimicking Fox News. I have long complained about the redundancy of the media which Jon referred to as “the relay” and the way the other channels not only became fox-like but are now totally allowing Fox News to write the narrative. The other channels have basically just started covering fox and that is why the country is going to heck, because no matter what the fox agenda gets out. media if you don’t get what Jon is saying then shame on you.
I think what Jon was saying is fox has done a good job of de-legitimizing the media, while wielding a great deal of power themselves. If they report on Fox News that the mainstream media is just out to get them and they turn on MSNBC and all they see are people criticizing fox and calling Glenn Beck crazy and showing clips of reports from Fox News, then what are they to think. Wouldn’t you believe that what Fox was saying may be true? Instead of the other two networks sticking to hard news and facts; they have helped to reinforced fox’s caricature of media. I don’t need the media telling me what to be mad about, I just want the information and I’ll decide if it upsets me. The tea partiers disrupting town hall meetings would have better contrasted if the person delivering the information weren’t also yelling.
I think this problem started during the escalation to the Iraq War, many media sold out to the administration so they could get embedded status. They helped to cover Bush’s lie about “weapons of mass destruction” and they did not cover the anti-war movement in this country. I hardly saw any coverage of the anti-war movement during the Bush years and that was because Bush was able to use homeland security and terrorism as a bludgeon against the people and eventually the media. They had played right into the hands of those who wanted to manipulate the media and essentially helped in their own demise. I have long said the media is the biggest problem facing this country and this interview has reinforced that for me. The reason why it is hard for the media to now paint Bush as a war criminal, is because during the time he was saying that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction every media was running around trying to prove that point, showing chemical labs, and old footage of missiles, and dead Iraqi’s. Instead of talking about the reality of the moment and telling the truth, the media helped promote the war idea.
I remember exactly when the spell of the right wing broke for the media it was the interview with Bill Clinton and Chris Wallace on Fox News. Bill Clinton stood up to the media that day and shortly after Keith Olberman gave a “special comment”, but the journalism didn’t return to the media, commentary became the norm, narratives and opinions, the us vs. them argument only gained reinforcement and in that melee real journalism died. The media became self centered celebrity driven and angry. That is where I believe we are today, and this interview with Jon Stewart crystallizes everything that is wrong with the media. Rachel—it’s not about you, Jon is a comedian and you are part of the media, your job is to deliver facts and the truth, and no Rachel, you don’t have to yell it. Jon’s job is to make us laugh and lately he has been making us laugh at the media.