The entire interview was spent with Stewart and Maddow parsing words about the difference between comedy and news. Whereas Maddow kept asserting that she didn’t feel what the two of them do is so different, Jon Stewart had another take:
“I feel more of a kinship with Jerry Seinfeld,” Stewart said about the way he reports the news, “than with what you guys are doing.” Rachel Maddow said both of them go through fact checking, for instance, and Stewart retorted that because The Daily Show is mocking a news organization, they have to do some fact checking, but it’s not for the same purpose, it’s to line up the joke.
I’ve heard Jon Stewart make these distinctions before. Stewart as you may recall is credited for single-handedly taking down Tucker Carlson and CNN’s CROSSFIRE when he once appeared on the show and accused CNN and the show’s hosts of destroying America by injecting partisan politics into the mainstream.
On the Rachel Maddow Show yesterday, Stewart said the partisan divide that is Right vs. Left in our country shouldn’t even be the divide that the news is focused on: it should be “corruption vs. non-corruption” according to The Daily Show host.
Jon Stewart went on to explain that according to him, what Rachel Maddow and other news reporters are doing is like reporting on the weather, with a boots-on-the-ground perspective, while he and other satirists sit up high and discuss climate with more of a worldly perspective.
Here’s the irony Jon Stewart failed to see:
From the perspective of the audience, here’s what we see as the difference between real news and comedy news: The real news reports every story in 2 beats: First, the news itself. Then, some commentary. In the case of real news, the commentary is serious. In the case of The Daily Show or even SNL Weekend Update, here’s what we get at home: First, the news itself. Then, a joke about the news.
What Rachel Maddow kept trying and was failing to get across to Jon Stewart last night was, even if you make satirical or joking commentary about a news story, if the first part of your story contains actual, verifiable facts, and if your facts are fact-checked, then whether you make a joke about it afterwards, or whether you make more serious commentary about it, you’re still delivering the news.
And let’s not forget that Rolling Stone article from last year that showed a large portion of America’s youth gets the bulk of its news from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Stewart may have comments about this, and say that’s the reason our country is stupid and mostly pot smoking stoners who watch his show, but the fact remains he’s delivering news whether he jokes about it or not. And in his interview last night, he missed the irony.
Jon Stewart just fails to see the forest thru the trees here. That, or he is not as smart as he seems. Perhaps he is too deep in, to realize the irony: that as Jon Stewart talks about weather vs. climate, from our perspective at home he’s just parsing words and it sounds ridiculous.*
*Editorial Note: The ridiculous-sounding part is where Stewart denies he reports the news. However, what he says about left vs. right being the wrong focus of the mainstream news in America, and how the real focus ought to be corruption vs. non-corruption? Point well taken.
You can see the entire uncut video of Rachel Maddow’s Jon Stewart interview right here: