Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ken Tucker has a thoughtful article in New York Metro on the whole Stewart-Carlson fracas. I first saw the Daily Show (and South Park) when I lived in Boston (with three white room-mates). The Daily Show was something they all watched regularly and pretty soon, I was a fan of the show as well. (South Park took a lot more of getting used to; it's in-your-face style redefines the whole notion of in-your-face.)
It had bothered me when I watched the video (I've seen it at least five times now) and Tucker articulates it: Can Stewart have it both ways? Can he toss puffballs to the guests on his show (and say "Hey, this is a comedy show after all!") and then criticize cable news shows for miserably failing in their duty to public discourse? If not, then what middle-ground should he pursue? After all, he is a comic. Tucker has a smart line at the end of his piece:
So this is the dilemma Jon Stewart now finds himself facing: Is he the Emmy- winning “monkey,” idol to millions of young couch-skeptics, or the thoughtful partisan satirist who’d like to be a player in the national discourse? It would take a genius comic to pull off both roles. But for the moment—his moment; his make-or-break moment up until the election—I’m sad to say, my money’s on the monkey to win out.
I'd say not. It strikes me that Stewart just might manage to pull it off. After all, how many people can lecture cable-news show anchors so sternly and yet be so funny?

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