Posted by: zhak39 | August 27, 2008

Excuse Me While I Reinvent Myself

A friend of mine pointed out a disconnect in the media. It’s not just that commentators present themselves as journalists. It’s that people in the media present themselves as newspeople when they crave credibility then call themselves entertainers when their audience acts upon the sensationalistic diatribes and do themselves or others harm. It reminded me of this from Crossfire a couple years ago.

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  1. Your friend was very insightful, Zhak.

    There is a line in this video where Tucker Carlson feigns contempt for Jon Stewart by accusing Mr. Stewart of “sniffing John Kerry’s throne” by asking Stewart asking Senator Kerry what, in Mr. Carlson’s opinion are softball questions. Jon Stewart picks up on this comparison between Mr. Stewart’s clearly satirical television show, on comedy central, and Mr. Carlson’s show, which is supposed to be a “serious debate” show on a major news station — CNN (the station that brought us the first Baghdad war in living color with Bernard Shaw live, hunkered down in an Iraq hotel room (as opposed to being “embedded” with the troops).

    Mr. Stewart does not miss a beat and says, “The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is WRONG with you?”

    There it is. There it is. Tucker Carlson comparing CNN to Comedy Central. It’s not so much a poor attempt by a faux newsman who sells himself as legitimate to belittle someone holding a mirror up. Rather, it is an admission by the faux newsman that he is a fraud. And that what he is doing is not legitimate debate but instead two hacks taking opposing political viewpoints who then bring people on their show so that they can, at once, help the guests do their scripted talking points while pretending to hold their feet to the fire.

    Did you notice the “hard hitting” question when they came back from the first break? What did Mr. Stewart think of the Bill O’Reilly vibrator incident? That was a “real” news item for CNN’s “Crossfire,” as was the later question from the audience member about some sort of cheating device that supposedly created an hump in President Bush’s suit during a debate. This was what CNN was reduced to — stories about Bill O’Reilly and a vibrator. Poor Bernie Shaw and the Boys in Baghdad risked their lives so Tucker Carlson could ask about another phony “journalist” and a vibrator.

    Shoot. And when I was in Fifth Grade my teachers told me I would never “measure up” if I didn’t learn the metric system. I’ll bet Tucker Carlson could tell you how many centimeters long the vibrator was.

    The beauty part for me was, in this instance, following this interview, that particular incarnation of the “Crossfire” program was abandoned within days and Tucker Carlson and Paul Begalla were out of a job. In that one instance four years ago, a news station recognized that people saw through its flaccid attempt at something real, and pulled it off the airwaves.

    Oh! And when Tucker Carlson returned to television several months later, on MSNBC, he had abandoned the pretentious bowtie.

    Four years later, the airwaves are full of this faux journalism foolishness. And, lucky for all of us, Jon Stewart is more successful than ever pointing out the absurdity. As is Stephen Colbert whose sarcastic nightly farce of gasbag O’Reilly on the Fox “News” station.

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