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Friday Free-For-All

The method-behind-the-madness of the Friday Free-For-All is simple: I provide a quotation, statement, statistic, or piece of news, without any commentary of my own. The readers are free to merrily discuss, debate, deride, or mock in whatever way they see fit -- hopefully it will at least tangentially pertain to the posted item, but hey, it's a free-for-all -- who knows!

Today's delicious Free-For-All is a little bit longer than usual, and comes courtesy of midtermmockery, who gave me the idea.

First, the quote:

"I haven't seen him move to start criticizing the Democrats in congress. We'll have to watch that closely, because I don't think 'The Daily Show' has been fair and balanced. And if they're going to maintain their credibility as a reliable source of comedy, they better start being fair and balanced."

-Bob Kohn, author of the book Journalistic Fraud: How the New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted, said as a guest on MSNBC's Scarborough Country.

Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEWjSpV1Gps

Okay, now, before I get into the meat of this Free-For-All, while I was searching for documentation of the quote, I found several other bits of information about this. Firstly, it appears that The Daily Show is a favorite whipping boy of Joe Scarborough. Apparently, any time he wants to theoretically make a point about liberal media bias, he shows a clip of Jon Stewart. Because we all know that Comedy Central is a vanguard of top news reporting and any news show WITH A COUCH is obviously the mouthpiece of America's left.

His - and other conservatives' - defense is that whenever O'Reilly or Fox Network responds to The Daily Show, Stewart's response is, "C'mon guys, we're not even real news!" Which is meant to deflect any criticisms directed toward the show by making Fox and O'Reilly look like stiffs - in sort, attacking the attacker rather than the argument.

But Stewart's kind of got a point. Why the fixation on a show with a sole purpose of mocking the news? Isn't there oh, I dunno, a WAR or something to talk about?

Commonwealth Common Sense blog made similar points about the wah-wah'ing of Scarborough et al, and linked to several articles and reports that found:

-Viewers of The Daily Show were more informed and more politically active than viewers of network evening news or other late-night talk shows, like Jay Leno or David Letterman
-Contary to Scarborough's complaint that The Daily Show makes young people cynical and less likely to vote, the youth vote turned out in higher numbers in 2004 than in 2000.

An Indiana University report found that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show are as trusted and as substantive as network "real" news. At first, this might seem to bolster Scarborough's point that Stewart can't hide behind the couch, so to speak, when faced with criticism - BUT, good ol' Joe is missing a big point.

Jon Stewart doesn't hide behind the couch. He fires right back. Witness the frequent clashes between Jon and Bill O'Reilly (search YouTube for videos - there are too many to link.) And the fact that IU found people believe The Daily Show to be as substantive as network news should be an indicator of how utterly low and worthless the "real" news has become - like Stewart said on Crossfire, he's a comedian, why are "real" journalists leaving it up to him to do THEIR jobs?

As for trusted...well, for me, I trust The Daily Show because I think they are probably one of the only media outlets that don't have some ulterior political motive for their reporting. He tells it like it is. Which brings us back to Kohn's quote.

"A reliable source of comedy?" WTF? Comedy needs to have a reliable source? And A LATE-NIGHT COMEDIC NEWS PROGRAM WITH A COUCH needs to be fair and balanced? At least Comedy Central doesn't pretend to be objective, like some other "real" news networks.

Okay, I'll stop editorializing now - I realize this has kind of morphed into a post-combined-with-Free-For-All. So what do you think? Is The Daily Show harming democracy? Does Kohn have a point? Does The Daily Show count as "news" or does it hide behind the mantle of "fake news" in order to deflect criticism? Does Fox News have a legitimate complaint, or are they just going after the only show that actually isn't afraid to tread a different path than the almighty Rupert Murdoch? Will conservative pundits ever grow the #$#@^%$#$#! up? Who do you trust - Joe Scarborough and Bill O'Reilly or Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? Is The Daily Show and The Onion all that's left of actual, investigative journalism instead of "infotainment"?



I do not count the Daily Show as real 'news'. This is only because they take events that are already real 'news' and say the things about them that most people (at least the ones I know) are already thinking. To me, this is a form of regurgitation. They do not break new stories, they do not present new facts, any of the actual information they use can be found if you want to look, thus, they're not 'news'.

I also do not think they hurt Democracy in any way. As stated above, they get to say on national TV what most of their viewers are already thinking, albeit with a decent budget and better graphics. From what I know, most people watch the Daily Show because they already agree with what is being said, and find it amusing. These people are no less likely to vote than anyone else. In fact, they may be even more likely to vote, because they're usually informed of these events before they ever reach the Daily Show, otherwise they wouldn't get the jokes. (And honestly, who would watch a show they don't get?)

Yes, the Daily Show and the Onion are the only bastions of investigative journalism left, because they have no political agenda. They're jsut out to make people laugh. And we all know you have to do research to do good relevant comedy.

And as for conservative pundits growing the funk up? They're pundits. What the hell else do you expect? Immaturity is practically a requirement for the job, conservative or otherwise. :P
This is less an intelligent reply than a continuation of Jessi's rant, which I completely agree with.

A RELIABLE SOURCE OF COMEDY?!? I am willing to give Mr. Kohn the benefit of the doubt and assume that he misspoke, because otherwise this phrase doesn't really make sense. But, really, attacking The Daily Show for not being fair and balanced is like attacking SNL'S "Weekend Update" for not being fair and balanced. They're not trying--they're not even PRETENDING (*cough*foxnews*cough)--to be fair and balanced. They're trying to be FUNNY.

As for me, I wouldn't trust Joe Scarborough and Bill O'Reilly as far as I could throw them. And judging from the pictures I've seen, I probably couldn't even pick them up.