Friday, December 17, 2010

Jon Stewart puts on his man pants

I came down pretty hard on him when he dodged responsibility for his influence on the national conversation, so I need to give him mad props for this.

Some have questioned why the Republican effort to block a bill to fund health care for 9/11 first responders hasn't received more coverage on the cable news networks. And one of the cable news industry's best-known tormentors on the subject -- "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart -- spotlighted the issue on last night's show,  interviewing a panel of first responders afflicted with grave health difficulties to flesh out what he sees as the media's blatant disregard for the heroic municipal workers at the center of the controversy.

Stewart has been hitting the general media silence around the first responders and the pending legislation that would help to alleviate their health and financial difficulties for much of the past week. Last night's panel discussion took more direct aim at congressional inaction on the measure -- and the Senate Republicans' filibuster in particular. This marked one of the only occasions the satiric cable show featured a panel discussion, and through most of the nine-minute segment, Stewart's demeanor was uncharacteristically somber, as he sought to give the bulk of the airtime to his guests.

This link has the video.

It's a profound shift in Stewart's intent here to skewer the worthlessness of the American corporate media in a serious way, instead of his usual satirical. And I applaud it. Stewart's effort was underscored by another significant critic (emphasis mine):

(F)ormer "Good Morning America" producer Eric Ortner -- who worked as a medic at the site of the devastation on 9/11 -- had some choice words for media colleagues who "will be jockeying to outdo one another on 10th anniversary coverage" of the attacks next year.

"The sad thing will be that the wall to wall coverage will be little more than window dressing with little true consequence," Ortner told the New York Times. "They'll make us feel patriotic and tearfully grateful as they sidebar a piece or two on the plight of the rescue workers who still seem to be dying broke, ill, and in need of basic benefits. When that happens, this is the moment that I'll remember. It’s when the press was needed most, when sunlight truly could disinfect, and my colleagues just aren’t there. This is not a partisan issue… this is a clear case of right and wrong, and basic responsibility. It’s the reason many of us got into the business to begin with ... expose injustice and question those who allow it to exist."

When Bill O'Reilly would rather fight his annual War on "Happy Holidays", when Neil Cavuto and the rest of the Fox freaks spend hours a day on things like the Ground Zero mosque or Julian Assange's broken condom but wrap themselves in the Stars and Stripes and call each other "patriots" for not wanting to pay any taxes ...

... you should remember it, too.

More here.

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