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Jon Stewart: Shades of Edward R. Murrow?

Posted on Dec 27, 2010

Although he has repeatedly insisted that his is not the role of a straight-up journalist and that he has no designs on a conventional political career, that doesn’t stop people like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg from casting Jon Stewart in a nobler light than Stewart himself is wont to do. What’s more, according to one Syracuse University academic, the “Daily Show” host might be compared to a couple of giants of the journalistic trade.

This latest round of accolades stems from Stewart’s role in reminding legislators on Capitol Hill, even from his perch at Comedy Central, that the 9/11 responders’ health care bill that was just passed should not fall between partisan cracks before the 111th Congress adjourned.  —KA

The New York Times:

Mr. Bloomberg, a frequent guest on “The Daily Show,” also recognized Mr. Stewart’s role.

“Success always has a thousand fathers,” the mayor said in an e-mail. “But Jon shining such a big, bright spotlight on Washington’s potentially tragic failure to put aside differences and get this done for America was, without a doubt, one of the biggest factors that led to the final agreement.”

Though he might prefer a description like “advocacy satire,” what Mr. Stewart engaged in that night — and on earlier occasions when he campaigned openly for passage of the bill — usually goes by the name “advocacy journalism.”

There have been other instances when an advocate on a television show turned around public policy almost immediately by concerted focus on an issue — but not recently, and in much different circumstances.

“The two that come instantly to mind are Murrow and Cronkite,” said Robert J. Thompson, a professor of television at Syracuse University.

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By MollyJ, December 29, 2010 at 11:38 pm Link to this comment

We like Jon Stewart but to promote him as a legitimate politcal voice and candidate is to buy in to the idea of politics as entertainment and spectacle (to borrow a Hedges phrase). 

Don’t be confused.  He belongs on Comedy Central.

He’s an entertainer.

We tried that once, remember?  Didn’t work so well for the country.

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By thecrow, December 29, 2010 at 8:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, December 28, 2010 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

Don’t get me wrong, and as I said, John is that minstrel; Thespes… who says no wrong, no matter how incited it will make the King and embarrass his Queen…. for it was Thespes who was most valuable in all the land, for from his lips he spoke of mysterious things… things called TRUE and SOBERING.

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By aacme88, December 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

I have long said that Comedy Central, specifically Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, was the only source of serious political discussion on television. Sad, but not unique (Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Dick Gregory, et al, as pointed out by doughboy) that it is comedy that tells it like it is, while “News” at best gives a veneer of “who’s winning” talk, and at worst, outright propaganda.
As in many times through history, it is the artists who lead, while what the leaders produce is hardly art.
In Medieval Europe it was the only court Jester who could speak his mind.

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By doughboy, December 28, 2010 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

Jon Stewart’s use of humor to rouse the public is not unique.  Lenny Bruce, George
Carlin,and Dick Gregory come immediately to mind.  Satire has historically played
its role as agent provocateur.  Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Mark Twain, H. L. Mencken,
and Ambrose Bierce used their wit in the prevailing media to engage the public’s
sense of determining right and wrong.  Mr. Stewart stands out today because there
are so few “gadflies” to stir the citizenry.

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By DarthMiffy, December 28, 2010 at 4:49 am Link to this comment

Jon Stewart has an enlightened and very earthy view of the role
comedy plays in changing society for the better. He deserves better
comments than the last two snipers. But then, I am sure he is more
expert than I at diverting their callous opinions.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, December 28, 2010 at 1:16 am Link to this comment

Jon Stewart can play the role of the jester, the clown and not take responsibility.. that’s fine.

We just someone to tell the truth and call a spade a spade when they see the money changing hands, per say.

Thing is, does he care like a prophet, or like a puppet… for the fatter the checks, the wider the grins folks… and pet projects can be delegated and media manufactured.. like ‘lady’ Diana’s were.

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By NABNYC, December 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm Link to this comment

Jon Stewart is a very funny guy, and he has a good entertainment program on television.  But that’s it.  People should not get carried away with a guy who reads a script written by others.  He’s not a political organizer, not a dissident, not an anti-war activist, not out in the streets with the hungry and homeless demanding help from the government, not living on a poverty wage to work with the least among us.  He’s a very well-paid television personality.  Let’s try to keep it in perspective. 

Yes, Jon Stewart is amusing when he tweaks the noses of those in power, and we can all enjoy some vicarious pleasure in watching him do so.  But that’s about all he does.  People may attribute to Jon Stewart some great wisdom and political insight, but remember he’s got a team of writers who come up with his best ideas and lines.

Didn’t anyone else see him on Rachel Maddow with his bizarre defense of George W. Bush, questioning whether anybody should ever say that Bush is a war criminal because, after all, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy.  Didn’t anyone figure out that Jon Stewart’s politics are consistent with those of most millionaires:  don’t rock the boat, avoid all that “war crimes” talk which tends to get so messy, just keep ‘em laughing. 

And his whole mantra in the little D.C. get-together was what?  Rodney King rip-off:  let’s all get along.  Okay.  That’s a typical line from a multimillionaire who does not want radical change because, in case you missed it, he is profiting quite nicely from the current system.

As far as the 9/11 healthcare issue, I still think New York City should pay for the healthcare of everyone who came to work on 9/11.  If they don’t have enough money, tax Wall Street, because they’re the people who stole all the money from the rest of the country.  It’s a little disgusting to see the richest city in the country conning the poor states to pick up the healthcare costs for public employees by waving the flag and telling sad stories. 

Here’s a sad story:  New York City has more than enough money to invest millions in building new high-rises in lower Manhattan to replace the ones knocked down, and those high-rises will be rented out at an enormous profit to the real estate developers and insiders.  So they have enough money to build for the rich, but claim they don’t have enough to pay for the healthcare benefits of their cops and firefighters.  I don’t buy it.

I think it’s just another theft of money from the rest of the country organized by the biggest group of thieves in our nation:  Wall Street, and the other financial heavy-hitters inside New York City.

As I understand it, Bloomburg hides most of his money outside the country to avoid paying taxes, stuffing it into his “My Charity” account.  Did Jon Stewart suggest that Bloomburg stop hiding his money and start paying his share of taxes?  Same for people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett. 

How about getting rid of the capital gains favorable tax treatment for the criminal cartels on Wall Street, and using some of that money to pay for healthcare?  Did Jon Stewart suggest that?  No, his “bravery” consists of demanding that minimum-wage retail workers from Kansas should be forced to pay healthcare costs for New York City workers. 

Sorry, I don’t see this as an Edward R. Murrow moment.  I see it as propping up the official 9/11 flag-waving mantra and using it to steal more money from the working people of this country.

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By tropicgirl, December 27, 2010 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

Now I really want to puke.

Hey Mouth Doosh, I’ve got an idea for you:

Idea #1.  Think of someone that legitimately needs government help very badly.

Idea #2.  Then, think of all the political cronies and beautiful blank people that would like another dishing of tax-cash so that they could win future elections and take more money….

THEN…. Make those two ideas work together so that Idea #2 can be successful.

THEN… People might think of you as a human being and not just the MOUTH DOOSH that you are.

AND, IN THE PROCESS, you can discredit the people that don’t want Idea #2 to happen.

BUT, THIS WAY, Idea #2 is a done deal.

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