Democrats & Liberals Archives

And Now, Your Moment Of Zen

Recently released figures show a huge drop off in viewership for the big 3 cable news networks, since their peak covering the Iraq War in the summer of ’03. Of course, this type of news would lead most learned folks to hope that many Americans are now looking to other sources for more substantive and wider ranging offerings, instead of a steady diet of indicted celebrities and the search for the most recent pretty white chick, gone missing.

Ironically, it was a recent Pew Research Center study on how the electorate gets its political news that made the media sit up and take notice. Apparently, growing numbers of voters (especially the coveted young adult demo) are turning to late night talk shows and the Internet to find what they’re looking for. Leading the exodus away from mainstream news outlets are frustrated Democrats (hello!) angered by what they see as a growing bias.

From this vantage point, the Pew Survey findings have not been lost on some TV/Cable execs. Bill Maher is now becoming a regular fixture on Larry King Live and Chris Matthew’s Hardball. ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos and CNN’s Sunday Inside Politics have introduced segments highlighting a weekly round up of political humor from the late night talk show heavies. (Curiously, I’ve seen clips from The Late Late Show With Craig Kilbourn, yet nothing from Dennis Miller Live).

Yet, putting into perspective the large segment of this country’s disdain by ‘avoiding politics’, the explosive success of The Daily Show With John Stewart may be the 2004 Election media version of Ross Perot – but, with content and humor.

The show hosts the usual parade of pop culture celebrities, yet somehow it manages to share the same non-entertainment, high profile guest, sometimes within the same week, with Meet The Press host Tim Russert. Instinctively, the show’s producers manage to keep the flow of political guests ‘fair and balanced’, with the appearances by the likes of Jonah Goldberg, Hannity and Clueless,and The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, along with Joe Wilson, Al Franken and Bill Maher. Rosie O’Donnell may have seen the same roster of guests from the Right, but only if she had the same numbers, influence, and more importantly, buzz.

Which makes it even more amazing to me, when it is perfectly obvious of late that The Daily Show’s ‘spin’ on the news of the day should easily be targeted by the Right as biased - more so than Katie Couric, or the Clinton News Network.

I’m not trying to instigate…ah, hell! Damn right, I am trying to instigate a rumble! If you are not a rabid viewer like me, just go and view clips from recent shows and tell me I’m lying! Mind you, I usually watch shaking my head in righteous agreement, while occasionally falling off the couch in hysterical giggles and snorts.

No one in the media would touch the incident where CNN’s Crossfire host Robert Novak played the ‘race card’ in defense of Condi Rice. Yet, Jon Stewart rightfully castigated this outrageous act of cowardice (one that would get any other perceived liberal journalist fired), by exercising a privilege not afforded a news anchor, of say, Walter Cronkite’s stature – he called Novak a ‘douche bag’.

My premise here is driven by the fact that anyone who dares challenge or disagrees with the Right eventually draws their wrath. It was easy to demonize MoveOn.org and CBS/Viacom, each devoid of any discernable backers (read: voter block), Conservative would fear offending. However, attempting to take Comedy Central down a notch, would be like an all out assault by O'Reilly/Hannity/Scarborough on 'Friends'! And, if House Speaker Dennis Hastert's recent verbal brow-beating of John McCain on the subject of 'sacrifice' is any indication, the Republicans no longer remember the hard lesson won from Quayle v. Murphy Brown.

But, will The Daily Show soon share this honor with the United Nations, CBS, Micheal Moore, the Red Cross, the ACLU, Amnesty International, Planned Parenthood, NPR, the Teletubbies and Big Bird?

Or, is the better solution, Rupert Murdock just buying the whole darn network?

Posted by Bert M. Caradine at June 13, 2004 7:47 PM