Jon Stewart responds to Rally to Restore Sanity criticism

I don’t know that it changed my mind about the rally, but I very much liked listening to Stewart and Maddow discussing their respective shows and how they see themselves and the work that they do. I know it’s an hour long, but, if you haven’t seen this yet, you should really check it out.

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  1. Posted November 13, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    The Maddow interview actually annoyed me and reduced my respect for Jon Stewart.

    His analogy of being a climate scientist really ignores the fact that these scientists actually build their models and analysis on data. He dismisses data and implies it’s not the right kind of evidence — climate scientists actually contextualize data where it conflicts with their model and? explains how it is a part of their model where it agrees.

    He also maintains some hubris about his role as an artist — responding to the rally, he’s said several times, as he did in the interview, “I know what it was” and asserted it was the audience and critics who didn’t understand the work of art, as if reception of art is not also essential to understanding it, and as if his rally was not dependent upon audience reception and participation.

    Finally, he keeps insisting that he is not a newsmaker, and that he is solely a satirist/comedian. This is patented bullshit, with exhibits A and B including interviews with Clinton and Obama among dozens of other newsmaking interviews (Betsey McCaughey, for example). They do satire interviews, but they also go beyond that into actual news and opinion journalism.

    From his false equivalencies and his defenses, I get the sense that Stewart doesn’t quite have a grasp of the politics or of his role in it — in this way, he is limited in that he is a comedian (Maddow really outshines him in this interview and illustrates this). I think digby is right — Stewart sees himself as the sensible center and wonders why everybody else has to take things so seriously.

  2. Bob
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Dale, some of your points are valid. I too am a little tired of Stewart’s defense that he is not a journalist or opinion maker, just a comedian. Clearly it’s bullshit and he should give it a rest. But these are small complaints. Thank god we have Stewart and Colbert. They are better journalists and critics than nearly every other host/pundit in the mainstream media. Maddow has to be the most overrated talking head in recent memory. I don’t dislike her in the way I do Olbermann, but she wears me out pretty quickly with her preachy, goony delivery.

  3. Posted November 14, 2010 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I like both Stewart and Maddow. They strike me as reasonable, bright and relatively open to debate, all of which are characteristics in relatively short supply these days. And, while I’m frustrated that Stewart chooses to go after cable news across the board, instead of focusing his anger on the political right, where I think that it is more earned, I get why he’s doing it. He feels as though he has more power to influence the national conversation when he’s perceived as objective, and above the skirmishes between our two parties. And, in his position, I’d probably do the same thing. So, I disagree with you on your last point, Dale. I think he knows damn well what he’s doing, and his real role in steering the national debate. I just think that he’s made a decision to employ a tortured kind of logic to make the case that he’s not in fact doing what he’s doing. (This would make more sense if I wasn’t still half asleep.)

  4. Posted November 14, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Stewart’s positioning in this whole discussion– and I mean beyond this particular interview, too– is a pretty tricky balancing act. I think he knows he has a lot of political power and he has to be aware that so many polls suggest that a lot of people actually get a lot of their news from Stewart. So he cannot not believe in some sense that is at least seen as a journalist and/or a political activist.

    But if Stewart were to agree to that– that is, if he were to come out on the show and say “We should be seen as a trusted news source” or say at the rally “And now go out there and vote for Democrats, and I will be running for President in 2012” or something– if Stewart were to agree to the labels Maddow and other are bestowing on him, his game is over. You can’t critique news and politics if you become a journalist and a politician. At some point in this interview, Stewart says that the point of the rally was to once again make that claim that he and Colbert are satirists, nothing more and nothing less. I don’t agree with that at all. But I also don’t think that Stewart has any obligation or responsibility to do anything more than what he’s doing.

    The more interesting question for me in all this is what is the role of people like Maddow and other commentators who are positioned to look like journalists because they are on what are ostensibly news outlets. But that’s another story.

  5. Posted November 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I liked his points about being open to debate instead of making arguments that pretty much shut down debate. I agree with him that it happens on both sides (dems and repubs) and we need to foster the ideas and discussion instead of shutting them down.

  6. Andy C
    Posted November 15, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    It seems that the biggest criticism is that the left really wants him on their team. The Daily Show hits the right way more than the left and you should be happy for that. He’s not your representative, they’re in Washington. It’s easy to sit on your butts and criticize the Rally. Swaying back and forth based on who said what about it. If Bill Mauer wants a rally that “actually means something” he should throw his own. Stewart/Cobert and everyone there, took the time, spent the money, to have a voice for one day. All signage proved that not just Stewart had a message.

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