Early Sunday morning, gotta go to church in the morning. Best time to blog.
The Daily Show
This DirecTV vs Viacom dispute is getting serious. When it was other people’s shows like Snookie or Sponge Bob I was unconcerned but I’m going to be very upset if I have to miss The Daily Show when it returns from vacation Monday. Here’s the thing, in my universe MTV, Nick etc. doesn’t exist until I want to watch a station. What happens when I turn to a station is that the station comes into existence when I turn to it. When I change the channel the channel I’m turning away from goes back to a state of existential hiatus, awaiting patiently for the time when I call it back into existence.
Anyway The Daily Show gets praised by some and condemned by others. I have watched nearly every episode in recent memory and I notice many misconceptions about The Daily Show. Here are my observations.
One thing that gets critics of The Daily Show in a tizzy are polls that state young adults get their news from The Daily Show. Because somehow its “funny news” or “fake news”. Well first off if your news awareness is based on viewings of The Daily Show then you are not well informed. They spend a half hour a day 4 days a week about 40 weeks a year on news. Some days the interview subject is an entertainer. Not a bad thing but I doubt Will Farrell’s promotional tomfoolery has any social significance. Not that it isn’t entertaining (actually not so much for me, not a big Farrell fan). That said The Daily Show has news value in two ways. First off it can serve as a gateway drug for news. Young adults watch The Daily Show and maybe they get interested in the world around them and seek out other, more comprehensive news sources. Second The Daily Show can serve as part of a well balanced diet of news. For example I think I’m fairly well informed. I do see news stuff online but it isn’t a consistent part of my news diet. What is in my diet is the PBS Newshour (the main course), Newschannel 8 local news (the side dish) and The Daily Show (dessert).
The second impression people have of The Daily Show is that they make up stuff, only cover stuff that is easy to make fun of or sensationalize the news. The Daily Show does not cover every story, given their time constraints that would be impossible. But the stories they do cover are real, they are important and sometimes are not being covered in the rest of the media. Did any other news outlets have a reporter (Jason Jones) staying with Iranian families right before their last election and subsequent protests (the sgments were broadcast while the unrest was going on but were recorded just before)? I didn’t see ESPN covering how the local populace in South Africa was being exploited when the World Cup came in 2010. There was another story they did about a historic black town in Mississippi (Turkey Creek) was being systematically swallowed up by eminent domain and other abuses. The residents couldn’t get anything done until the Audubon Society (yes the bird people) got involved. How much coverage did that get outside The Daily Show?
The third and biggest contention The Daily Show critics have is liberal bias. Guilty as charged. They are, I’m not going to deny it. But the issue is overstated. President Obama and liberals in general aren’t immune to criticism. I won’t cite examples in Stewart’s monologues but they did a story on how the Occupy protesters were using and messing up local restaurants and not buying anything. A very negative segment about the Occupy protests. Another segment a few years ago skewered a war protest movement. These are far from the only two examples but I’m writing a blog not a doctoral disertation. I’m not doing hours of research to prove something that could be evident to anyone who watched The Daily Show instead of relying on accounts from Fox News about The Daily Show (BTW: yes they are vicious to Fox but are equally vicious to CNN). One huge weakness Stewart has is his interviewing skills. There is a huge liberal bias in his interviews. Liberals are pretty much unopposed during their interviews whereas conservatives are politely and sometimes humorously grilled. Stewart was fairly tough in his interview with President Obama. Since he’s a “funny man” I guess he can get away with it but actual news people would be hammered if they did their job the way Stewart does his.
Speaking of Stewart’s interview skills its not just the bias that is the problem. He also constantly interrupts his guests. If you are going to interview someone let them speak about their area of specialty. On the plus side the guests are usually able to get their points across and the subjects include politicans, authors, historians, scientific experts, economists, and other thinkers in addition to entertainers. Another indication that The Daily Show has more depth than its detractors give it credit for.
The Daily Show isn’t for everyone and I’m sure not saying that everyone should watch it. But when you criticize something it’s a good idea to check it out for yourself. Sometimes perceptions and reality are very different.
Still rocking out to XM’s Message – Amped. Great Christian rock! But I gotta go to church in the morning. So have a great Sunday!
Next time: the ESV Study Bible – initial impressions.