Jon Stewart once again put his title as a fake journalist to question this week in his interview with Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain. The good Senator had graced that program several times before, but as of that night he was being groomed as the candidate that would unite conservatives and moderates under one banner for the next election. This gave Stewart and his team of show runners the opportunity to ask the next center of the Republican Party some questions. These were questions they had often seen swept aside at Washington press conferences in their search for a setup for the night’s punch lines. Why is opposition to the war seen as disrespect to the troops? Why is the administration spending so much time trying to downplay an obvious mistake? The style of the interview was particularly harsh. Stewart interrupted McCain as he repeated the platitudes of his superiors. Voices were raised, arms were waved, and a mock kung fu fight almost started.
Impressed was the wrong word for what I felt after that interview. Stewart had suddenly adopted some of the interview techniques of his political adversaries at Fox News, something his associate Stephen Colbert lampoons as “nailing”. The Daily Show had often taken journalists to task for the way they asked unfair questions to get the sound-bite they needed to squeeze out those few extra ratings points. Did they go back on their principles to get the Republican Party “right where they want them”?
Stewart went after McCain like a junk yard dog. It may have made people uncomfortable, but I’m afraid it was necessary. The United States is at the point where it is facing a war without end, and personal freedom is now held up to utmost scrutiny. US citizens can now be imprisoned indefinitely with a Presidential order. Progressive elements in that country are now retracing their steps to find out how affairs of the state got to this point.
Too much attention may have been given to how the use of media needs to be “fair”. The problem with the Fox News Network has not been its ironic use of the term “Fair and Balanced”, but the fact that it works. The people who vote for George W. Bush and who may be voting for John McCain in 2008 are using that rhetoric to call others to action under that viewpoint. Progressives abhor the use of propaganda because of the way the Nazis used it before WWII. Lest we forget that the Allies also used propaganda, employing the greatest entertainers in the free world, like Mel Blanc, Dr. Seuss, Lucille Ball, and Chuck Jones. The world may be changed for the better by debate and fair play, but at some point, 2+2=4, carbon emissions need to go down and not up, there are terrorists in our midst and no amount of foreign wars will diminish their resolve.