After years spent shamefully addicted to a satirical cable news, I found a study by Annenberg Election Survey that confirmed “The Daily Show viewers” know more about current events than people who read newspapers and watch broadcast news. We don’t have to be ashamed anymore, masked news viewers, Jon Stewart is here to repair years of rational undoing! It’s high time we acknowledge the backward thinking that masked reporting unpopular news and asking uncomfortable questions as satire.
Stewart has never called himself a journalist and refers to “The Daily Show,” which he produces, as a political cartoon of sorts. However, he meets the newly loosened requirements for being a journalist as well. He disseminates information audiences do not get anywhere else, which does not mean that the information is not out there, but viewers do not know to look for angles they do not know about. The beauty of “The Daily Show” is that it applauds people who analyze and question the actions of public figures, just like professional reporters are supposed to do. Unfortunately, Stewart does not think we’re doing our jobs.
He put that sentiment plainly with an anecdote while doing an interview on C-SPAN in 2004.
“When you go to a zoo and see a monkey throw poop, you say, ‘That’s what monkeys do.’ What I wish the media would say more frequently is ‘Bad monkey.'”
Stewart has been calling out bad people for a very long time. And he calls them out in a responsible manner and gives them fair opportunities to defend themselves and own up to their actions, which when Stewart points them out, become incredably clear. “How did I not see that coming?” I’ve asked myself a hundred times watching his show.
His recent attack on MSNBC’s Jim Cramer, the flamboyant host and go-to money expert of “Mad Money,” was nothing short of spectacular. Stewart had him by the throat, demanding to know why Cramer had chosen to withold his insight into the impending economic crash. Cramer’s misdeeds run much deeper than that, but Stewart was professional enough to qualify that Cramer was not who he was specifically angry at, but the whole slew of people who knew what Americans were eventually going to suffer and did not want to tell us.
“Let’s get rid of the expertise and ‘In Kramer We Trust’ and get back to the basics of journalism,” Stewart said, accusing MSNBC for shaddy journalism and Kramer for drinking the Kool-Aid.
Until we (journalists, experts, curious citizens, etc.) start questioning the motives behind corporate and political actions as well as this talk-show host does, we shouldn’t be satisfied with the typical evening news.
Whitney Hodgin is a senior in print journalism. Please send comments to email@example.com.