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The Media, Sabotage and Laughter

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show was recently interviewed by NPR (see also this older interview), and (perhaps like Matt Taibbi) I think the man may be a minor Pantagruelist. His remarks about mainstream media journalism imply a positive rejection of its pretense of liberal neutrality. Perhaps this bodes well for the future, as mainstream journalism, particularly print journalism, is a failing business that particularly fails to reach the kinds of people who apparently like Stewart’s show. It would not be a bad thing if “the news” were to be overtaken in the future by satirical iconoclasts free from the encumbrances of romantic sub-Habermasian notions of the public sphere. ~Japus Gassalascus, The Japery, part of The New Pantagruel

Coming across this post at The New Pantagruel was fortuitous, as I had heard the Stewart interview during my seemingly interminable road trip and found myself wanting to include something about the irreverent Daily Show on the blog. One show this past week including a spoof of the tawdry, ridiculous government switchover from one inaccurate propaganda name (Global War on Terror) to another (Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism) was a perfect example of the devastating, humourous criticism that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show are capable of producing when they are successful. Stewart is also well ahead of most others on television in seeing the futility and actual journalistic irresponsibility of most cable television talk shows, which have long been simply venues for hired hacks to recite their talking points without any effort on the part of the “journalists” involved to keep anyone honest.

Some lamented a year ago that 20% of the 18-24 age range gathered their information about current events from The Daily Show rather than from proper news sources. But in light of what passes for proper news, it is entirely possible that Daily Show fans end up being at least as well informed, which only further confirms Stewart’s point.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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