Monday, November 1, 2010

Media Upset Jon Stewart Not Focused On Real Problems

An interesting dynamic is evolving in the wake of the Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear over the weekend. The media is striking back, claiming that the nonpartisan nature of the rally forced Stewart, Colbert to attack media instead of the real originators of the partisan warfare which has crippled Washington. I kind of agree with the New York Times here, and wish that the rally focused a little more on the obstinate party, but honestly what good would come of that?

In going after the media exclusively, Stewart and Colbert at least forced this article in which the New York Times is decrying the lack of confrontation and real questioning of the failure of the political system in the modern Congress. Of course, the media (the Times included) have facilitated the decline of the political process, so getting them to pen a piece complaining that the rally didn't focus on the structural failures of rhetoric and serious democratic discussion is a massive accomplishment in Jiu-Jitsu.
His barrage against the news media Saturday stemmed from the fact that, on this day, attacking the message would have been bad manners, so he stuck with the messengers.
Of course, the general critique of the media is exactly the same- that the news reporters are too polite. The thrust of last Monday's Daily Show segment with Wyatt Cenac cozying up to lobbyists and noting the incestuousness of the Washington media-political scene struck exactly this chord. The New York Times has been doing too little "afflicting the comfortable." The media, if you listen to anybody outside of it (or inside of it attempting to claim a populist mantle), is complacent. Now they're charging that the Comedy Central News Hour is as complacent. And that's the big story from today's media coverage of the event: journalists are publicly calling politeness a vice.

Depending on how cynical you are, this either bodes well for a burgeoning media self-awareness and reform or is emblematic of the psychoanalytic concept of projection. Of course, companies don't maintain psychologies, but the principle is the same- a component (journalist) of the psyche (corporation) sees a problem, but a supervisory node (editorial norms) attributes the problem to an external actor in order to save face (job security). I'm not holding out much hope that media executives will have the realization that their companies should be filling the void of serious criticism and digestion of politicians' behavior and talking points, but blaming the Daily Show host for not doing so evinces a real unease that journalists aren't doing it.

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