Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Media Star Blames … the Media?

Jon Stewart is a media star. He’s rich and famous because he has perfected the art of news-tainment that a key demographic (young TV viewers with lots of dispensable income) can’t get enough of. So he holds a rally, is savvy enough to steer clear of real political issues, and slams the media, which has made him who he is. No, really:

Did Stewart and Colbert strike a blow for sanity, or just furnish an afternoon’s ephemeral entertainment? Jon turned serious at the end, even while acknowledging that “there are boundaries for a comedian/pundit/talker guy.”

And did he take aim at Washington? No, it was once again the low-hanging fruit of the 24-hour cable news “conflictinator.” This machine “did not cause our problems”—whew, I thought he might call for banning the channels—”but its existence makes solving them that much harder. … If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”

So is Stewart part of the problem — the leading purveyor of snark in lieu of substance? Or is it lame to hold him — and those on the other 500 channels — responsible for what ails us? It reminds me of the Comedy Channel’s favorite pol, who proclaimed:

Meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment. All of this is not only putting new pressures on you; it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.

Yes, that was Obama. He, too, was once a media darling who now blames too much on the 24/7 news cycle.

It seems the media is a scapegoat, even for those who have benefited the most from it. You’d think that those who’ve attained fame and fortune would show a little more gratitude for the plethora of outlets that allow their message to reach hundreds of millions of Americans. And it would be swell if Obama and his liberal cheerleaders would show a little more enthusiasm for the vibrant, unruly, and delightfully robust political debate that is the hallmark of a free country and a functioning democracy.