June 19, 2011

HuffPo: Your Source For Unintentional Irony

Jon Stewart appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace today for a thoughtful, twenty-five-minute interview, which covered a number of different issues related to media bias, media activism, and his role (or non-role) in the political process. Here's how HuffPo covered it:



And also:



Now, technically it is 100% accurate to say that Stewart called Wallace insane. And later in the interview, once they'd moved to a different topic, he also had a few seconds that I would characterize as "going off" (he asked Wallace why polls "consistently" show Fox News viewers as the least well-informed of all Americans).

But Stewart also told Wallace that he respected him, and found him to be a tough and fair interviewer — and ultimately suggested that Wallace had been placed on Fox News as a reasonable and balanced counterpoint to its more extreme pundits (Beck, Hannity, etc.), precisely so that the network could point to him as "journalism" rather than "opinion."

The two also joked around and acted like good friends, as they also do when Wallace appears on The Daily Show.

So characterizing the interview as a "heated" "face off" (N.B. aren't all interviews "face offs," strictly speaking?), in which Stewart "goes off" and primarily pushes the opinion that Wallace is a nutbag is, well... Totally inaccurate and sensationalist.

On the other hand, here's something Stewart spends several minutes talking about:
24-hour news networks are built for one thing, and that's 9/11, and the type of gigantic news event that the type of apparatus that exists in this building and exists at the other 24-hour news networks is perfectly suited to cover.

In the absence of that, they're not just going to say "there's not that much that's urgent or important or conflicted that's happening today." [Instead, they say] "so we are going to gin up, we are going to bring forth more conflict and more sensationalism, because we want you to continue watching us 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, even when the news doesn't necessarily warrant that type of behavior."

...That's sensationalist and somewhat lazy. But I don't understand how that's partisan... It's a form of subtle misinformation.
Strangely, this quote (which I had to transcribe myself) did not appear in the HuffPo article, probably because the level of cognitive dissonance required for the writer to include it would have caused Manhattan to sink into the ocean.

Sigh...

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