VIDEO: News Outlet Sensationalizes Jon Stewart Interview About Media Sensationalism

VIDEO: News Outlet Sensationalizes Jon Stewart Interview About Media Sensationalism


Apparently the irony was lost on the Mail Online editors when choosing the hook for this story:

It was pitched as a classic grudge match between the left and right of network television.

And when Daily Show host Jon Stewart entered the ‘lions den’ of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, the results did not disappoint.

Despite trying to maintain his comedic detachment, Stewart lost his temper during the 15 minute interview as the two TV heavyweights battled over perceived liberal biased in the mainstream media.

Here’s the video. Tell me what you think. It’s worth watching the entire thing…

Is Stewart frustrated? Sure. Wallace shows a little frustration too. But did anybody lose their temper. Ummm…no.

  • theWord

    It wouldn’t fit their agenda to say there were two people having a discussion with differing viewpoints.

  • Tully

    I’m not a big watcher of his show, but Stewart just re-affirmed why I love him anyway. Echoes of his famous appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show in 2004 where he cut right through all the BS to make it clear exactly how seriously he expected to be taken:

    “You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. “

    He’s a comedian, he loves being a comedian, he doesn’t pretend to be anything but a comedian, and he tries to be a reasonably responsible one while letting his own views color his work and being pretty darned upfront about it. Good on him.

  • kranky kritter

    one word: infotainment

    Stewart is a comic, which means he’s an entertainer and he knows it. He works with news for his comedy, which makes his genre infotainment. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because it’s clearly framed as entertainment.

    But the media actually practices infotainment while insisting on the pretense that their first priority is to inform.

  • theWord

    I’m going to have a drink, I agree with both Tully and Kranky

  • Mike A.

    What I love about Stewart is his ability to navigate potentially argumentative conversations while maintaining very good self composure. During this interview watch how often he is interrupted and how he responds whenever the topic is moved away from his talking points by Wallace. Stewart politely acquiesces (almost happily) without pounding his point home. He appears completely comfortable and confident in these environments. Here is a good example:

    WALLACE: I don’t think our viewers are the least bit disappointed with us. I think our viewers think, finally, they’re getting somebody who tells the other side of the story.

    STEWART: Right.

    WALLACE: And in — no, no, no. One more example.

    STEWART: Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.

    WALLACE: Can we talk about your network? Can we talk about Comedy Central?

    STEWART: Yes. I’d be delighted to.

  • daniel noe

    The problem I have with Stewart is that while he does good comedy, some of the background information needed to “get” the jokes is based on falsehood. It is the parts of his show that are implied to be true (the background information) that are misleading.

    I wish I had an example. I might try to dig one up and come back.

  • kranky kritter

    I get what you mean Dan. But remember, he’s a comedian. Whether you get people to laugh by playing to a true perception or a common misperception doesn’t matter. You’re trying to make your audience laugh. If they do, you succeeded.

    That does mean though, that when Stewart tells a joke that relies on a liberal canard in order to get liberal-leaning folks to chuckle, it’s going to feel just as you describe it to anyone who is irritated by whatever it is they believe is the canard.

    Since Stewart is a comedian and not a real news anchor, I don’t think he has any actual professional responsibility to reform partisan misperceptions instead of using them to get laughs.

  • theWord

    There were two parts of the interview edited out that were quite important: when Stewart said he’d seen the Salmon memos that buttressed his argument that Fox is a message with an agenda rather than news and Chris Wallace saying they told one side of the story which means Fair and Balanced is not accurate to describe them.

    Seems like that selective editing proves his points to me. Stewart is a comedian but I’d trust his “news” over Fox every day of the week

  • kranky kritter

    What’s clear is that as a comedian who draws much of his comedy from self-serving media behavior, Stewart understand the media much better from his perch than the media itself does.

    Or maybe the media understands itself just as well when talking amongst themselves but knows better than to say so publicly. I think when the media faces an external critic, they always play the role of defender of their faith and cast all of their actions in the best possible light. Occasionally they briefly tap themselves with a wet noodle quickly followed by patting themselves on the back again as closure.

    I think almost everyone understands that fox sees its role just as wallace acknowledged, to provide some sort of rough counterbalance. If we don’t get bogged down in trying to quantify it, I think most regular folks see Fox as doing this as well.

    I don’t think the vast majority of Fox’s on air talent thinks they are fair and balanced, they believe just as Wallace does. We can pretend that Wallace let the cat out of the bag if we want I guess, but come on, really? And when it comes to their opinionators, what I see amounts to carefully practiced schtick. That’s my mileage, anyone who wants to believe that Sean Hannity believes everything he says just as he says it is welcome to that view. Pour a few beers into him and he’d at least admit to let’s say exaggerating for effect.

    “Fair and balanced” is a tag line that maybe half their audience buys.

  • Tully

    Let us not forget that the Pauline Kael effect applies to Stewart as well … and to the rest of us as well.

    In any case, as I’ve written for years, what has happened in the last couple of decades is that the broadcast news oligopoly crumbled with the advent of cable and the internet, and we now see multiple niche markets being served multiple niche players. Listening to all the niche players trying to claim that THEY are unbiased while pointing at others as being totally biased really cracks me up. Every single major broadcast player now actively seeks specific niche audiences defined by political inclinations, and caters to them in terms of inherently biased presentation to one degree or another.

  • theWord

    and we’re back

  • kranky kritter

    Right, let’s not pretend that any big media companies are too stupid to do demographic research or too principled to act on it.

  • theWord

    I didn’t say that but nice attempt, it’s the they’re all the same and drivel like “to one degree or another” I find predictable. I think Fox is a pretty unique entity. Stewart did a nice job of eviscerating them again last night. The fact that almost every lie is something you can count on as a talking point from only a conservative viewpoint shows how dangerous they are and you were proud that they convince with their tagline to 1/2 of their audience. Standards equally applied are not partisan they are just an alternative to willful ignorance.

    When the “counterbalance” is not factual, it is a viewpoint that never should be presented. I’d rather factual debate over the issues, I guess you think that is naive.

  • kranky kritter

    Word, I wasn’t even talking to you, I was following up on Tully’s comment while ignoring yours.

    I have no interest in defending Fox news. Irrespective of Fox News’s crappy, biased and sometimes inaccurate content let me just add the following. I dialed up MSNBC for about 15 minutes today. Some sort of mutual back-patting party between the smug, browbeating MSNBC host and Ron Paul, of all people. And they all seemed to be very, very, very full of shit to me. And I think that’s astonishingly obvious to many people on a regular basis, irrespective of and independent of what they may think about Fox News.

    I can’t stress irrespective enough.

    Fox News’ indefensibility does not mitigate anyone else’s full-of-sh!tness. To claim otherwise is, as you are fond of saying, counterfactual. You want to grade on a normative curve so that some can be good and others bad. I grade on a criterion-referenced scale. You fall short you flunk.

  • theWord

    I think honesty is a very good criteria. I’ve also never said to judge on a curve, you just need that for your trademarked world-view. I’d like a high standard while you are always apologizing for no standards. We just don’t agree that that is making this a better world. I think it is the problem. When a liberal and a conservative can agree on the starting point of honesty, we have a chance to get there, when some say anything goes because they are all the same it flies in the face of reality and IMO is the problem. I remember when they said Nixon wasn’t bad because they all do it. I thought it was dumbe then too.

  • Tully

    Fox News’ indefensibility does not mitigate anyone else’s full-of-sh!tness.

    Bingo. The networks all play to their own chosen political/market demographics. My interest in playing CPD™ is zero. Especially on behalf of media outlets. They are what they are, and once aware of their (IMHO quite intentional market-driven) biases it’s not all that difficult to sort out the agendized editorialism (bias) from the factual exposition … provided you know the difference between the two in the first place.

    Tonight’s lead-in show for Jon Stewart features a futuristic cartoon robot with a deep-seated sociopathic compulsion to kill all humans. Obviously we should take some Stewart clip as a solid basis for fostering “factual debate” now that his lead-in’s no longer puppets making crank phone calls.

  • theWord

    btw years ago I was a Republican and the one politician I still admire the most was a Republican, John Anderson. He voted for Nixon’s impeachment as the third ranking Republican in the House. He did it because he valued high standards more importantly than party loyalty. I don’t see a shred of that evidenced anymore. Anderson later left the GOP, IMO for the same reasons. You are the one who always discounts any desire for standards as partisan. Show me where I have ever not said that there should be one high standard for everyone.

    (Oh and dumb was a typo in the previous post from the capture Sorry)

  • Tully

    tWord, we will never get truly partisan liberals and conservatives to agree on “a starting point of honesty.” Their dogmas/doctrines don’t permit it. It would be heresy!

  • Tully

    I worked for the Anderson campaign. (Yes, I’m THAT old.) He”later” left the GOP in the sense that he did not seek re-election to his seat while running for President — he knew he could not win his GOP primary while running for President as an Independent. After the 1980 election he couldn’t have won his seat back. It went to a Reaganite.

    He was clear-spoken, honest, and centrist, consistently voting his conscience rather than his party. And he didn’t win a single precinct nation-wide. Sad, ain’t it?

  • kranky kritter

    I was too young to vote for John Anderson, but I would have.

  • WHQ

    I voted for him in our mock election in 7th grade.

  • theWord

    I ran a Congressional District for him in IL. He also did something else classy. In 1984 he decided not to run again. and although he could have pocketed the campaign funds he asked his supporters whether they wanted them returned or whether to donate them to Mondale’s campaign. He had left when the Christian Right entered. Easily one of the brightest guys with more integrity than almost any I can think of. He also had his 400+ pages campaign plan read into the Congressional Record so it could be looked at by anyone in a public library (not alot of internet then) IMO, he had qualities that are completely lacking in the GOP of today, hence my frustration.

    As to his numbers in the election. They also asked a question of what might have been. If you could vote for Carter Reagan or Anderson and any of them could win who would you choose. Anderson won those polls. All it took was strength of conviction and that is why we are in the cesspool we are in now.

    He also had the best line in politics for a third party candidate. Someone asked him if he was a spoiler and he responded “What’s to spoil””

    As to Tully’s point, saying it will never be perfect is no excuse for not making it better. When people just make shit up like Kyl did on the floor and Bachmann did on the India trip, can’t we all agree that is wrong and it should be condemned by anyone who does it? Where are the people of integrity who hold anyone accountable not just people in the other party. Opinion is one thing and you are right we all see the world through our own lens but some things are beyond the pale. (or at least IMO they should be) I’d like to see them have to clear up their lies with their own campaign funds. Might slow them down if they actually had a cost to not being responsible and felt they had a responsibility not to lie to the citizens.

  • kranky kritter

    I don’t know Kyl.

    From what little I’ve seen of Bachman she’s a slightly more polished slightly smarter version of Sara Palin. And that’s not a compliment in any sense.

    Whether Palin or Bachman or anyone else just makes up shit, they deserve to be exposed. However, my personal opinion is that it plays right into the hands of such folks to dwell too much on them. When it comes to publicity, it’s air in the balloon whether it’s good or bad. Correct the silly falsehood and move on, something like this:

    “Sara Palin was in Boston today, where despite several hours touring historic sites she was unable to absorb the factual details of Paul Revere’s ride”….

    …[go to clip]…..

    …”not the way I remember it. (chuckle). In other news… .”

    Skip the talking heads, skip the point-counterpoint…skip the dissection…skip any footage where she’s repeating silly crap she’s said a bunch of times.

  • theWord

    Kyl on the Senate floor (a place where I would say you should have the highest ethical standards) while debating the cutting off of funding to Planned Parenthood said that over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions. When it was pointed out that it was more like 3%, he walked it back and said that “it wasn’t meant to be a factual statement.” I think we both know that this is how arguments are won these days. Lie, repeat it over and over and sway the ignorant. I think it’s reprehensible. If he wants to argue funding factually fine. Sorry, but I think that makes him unworthy of the office. I’d say the same if a Democrat used totally made up things to influence the direction of the country. They do it because they get away with it and there is no cost. It’s why it is getting worse and worse IMO.

  • kranky kritter

    Not to defend Kyl, No interest. I support legal abortion, btw.

    But how would anyone go about measuring what percent of “what Planned Parenthood does” is abortions, or anything else? I’m curious. Does that 3% correspond to the percent of PP clients that subsequently get abortions? Or the percent of PP clients that are advised that abortion is an option? Or something else?

  • theWord

    The point was when you use hard numbers they magically get credibility. When you subsequently say they weren’t supposed to be taken factually you have already done the damage and you should have NEVER done it in the first place.

    You know 68% of the children that Kranky taught in shool filed pedophile charges against him :-) It just sounds real doesn’t it? I think these douchebags know exactly what they are doing and are not worthy of the suits that hold them up.FOR disousie

  • theWord

    Sorry about the capture showing not sure what happened there

  • theWord

    and to see if I can find agreement here, if as you say the numbers are immeasurable (or highly speculative at best) would you use them to affect a debate or would you have the integrity not to?

    Is it too much to ask that Senators crawl up out of the ooze to your standards and mine?

  • WHQ

    This is from PP’s 2008-2009 annual report (at

    For the three million patients our doctors and nurses saw, we provided contraception (36 percent of our total services), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (31 percent), cancer screening and prevention (17 percent), and abortion services (three percent).

    I don’t know exactly how they measure total services and how they get the percentages. It would mostly depend, I guess, on what they consider to be a service. But I could present the 3% figure and cite where I got it, at least qualified with “according to.” I wouldn’t have made it up out of thin air.

    However they measure services, it would be pretty hard to measure the same service in two meaningful, valid ways and get numbers as disparate as 3% and 90%.

  • kranky kritter

    and to see if I can find agreement here, if as you say the numbers are immeasurable (or highly speculative at best) would you use them to affect a debate or would you have the integrity not to?

    Well, I know what I would say. One thing I do is try to use words that indicate quantities in ways that make clear I’m estimating or ballparking. So I use words and phrases like noticeable, substantial, “some or even many,” “many or most,” “a solid majority,” and I couple that with phrases like “I think” and “I’d feel safe betting” or “I”d bet the house that…. .”

    I bring this up to demonstrate that it’s something that I personally give a lot of thought to, and so it’s something that I notice as a widespread failing not just of politicians but of almost everyone when they talk about quantities. The way that Kyl spoke is in my experience the rule and not the exception. Lots of people do what he does, use specific percent numbers when estimating from personal bias.

    Most likely the way that I would have interpreted Kyl’s statement in real time would have been similar to yours. I’d notice it and presume it was an expression of personal bias, not based on data. I might have said something like “I don’t believe that for a second.” I’ve said that on occasion during F2F discussions, and let me tell you, people get pretty upset at first, but what’s uncovered is always just as I describe, an estimate not based on data. It’s a problem.

    Is it too much to ask that Senators crawl up out of the ooze to your standards and mine?

    Short answer, no. Not at all. But I do have a rule, one I often fail to abide by, where I try to avoid what I call “positing malice.” It involves giving someone the benefit of the doubt, not presuming that they are acting or speaking out of malice when it could simple ignorance or carelessness or bad habit. So based on one data point, I wouldn’t presume an intent to mislead. So for Kyl, I have one data point, that he did something that lots of people do, use “90 percent of the time” as an expression for “usually” or “most.” Not saying you’re wrong about him, but rather that I don’t pass judgement lightly. It’s important for individuals, especially voters, to be careful to take their own measure of a person instead of adopting the quickly formed consensuses of others. It’s underpracticed due to partisan politics, I think.

    But you’re very right to suggest that many politicians show a pattern of what can only be thought of as intentional exaggeration, as well as a reliance on authoritative-sounding ways of speaking that obscure speculation and exaggeration and make it sound more factual than it is. Demagogues in particular are very prone to this. I haven’t seen much of Michelle Bachman, but she immediately gave me the vibe of an aggressive shader of facts, setting off a visceral alarm of mine that I can’t recall ever being wrong.

    Nevertheless, I do intend to take a full measure of her at some point by watching a debate, just as I did with Sara Palin. I doubt many folks even remember how in 2008 I counsels that many folks imperssions of Palin had come from brief excerpts culled by her detractors. And that as a VP candidate, she deserved for all of us to take our own measure of her in the environment of the VP debate, where we could see whether initial impressions were misleading or not.

    As it turned out, she was every bit as “out of her league” as initial hints suggested. But I still stand by my approach. I’d much rather be among the last to leap to an unwarranted conclusion than be among the first to jump to the right one.

  • Tully

    They’re measuring them by patient. Of their 3M patients seen they provided abortions for 90K of them. And no, PP does NOT use taxpayer money to subsidize abortions, as even a quick review of their finances reveals. In fact, taxpayer funding to PP for the services they are allowed to provide with same does not cover their cost for actually providing those services. In short, PP’s abortion business actually subsidizes the other services. Anyone familiar with the payout rates for Medicaid already probably knows this — MCD rarely covers total costs, it just backstops the amount of losses.

    Damn, tWord, what’s in the water? Pretty much in agreement with all your above since my last post. 😉

  • kranky kritter

    I’m moderated.

  • theWord

    It was the Anderson memories

  • kranky kritter

    good one