I am not very interested in topicality in the narrow sense; I’m more interested in the long now, the big picture, slow technology. That’s why I don’t try to write straight out of the news, and I never try to keep up. Those things are interesting in themselves, but they are also largely commercial processes that I think we should ignore whenever we can.
Still, over the last week or more I have been fascinated to watch the Daily Show take on CNBC’s financial and social recklessness, rightfully accusing them of abandoning the traditional journalistic role of watchdog. Stewart’s proximate target is the Jim Cramer, of the show “Mad Money,” but he also has bigger fish to fry.
The week before, of course, the topic of the moment was Rush Limbaugh’s role as de facto leader of the Republican party. On the one hand the media seems to be very defensive about Stewart, claiming that he can’t ‘have it both ways.’ He’s a comedian or he’s a lefty cultural critic; he can’t do that liminal dance that puts him somewhere neither here nor there.
On the other hand, Limbaugh, who’s much more of a demagogue than Stewart, and so by any measure has less credibility, if any at all, seems to be welcomed as a legitimate spokesperson. Limbaugh’s bombastic nonsense seems to go in one ear and out the other, to many media folk, but he’s still great news. Stewart, on the other hand, has to be brought down.
Stewart has a legitimate satirical and political problem. He built his empire by ruthlessly attacking the Neo-Conservatives. He’s credible because he’s funny and well informed. Now that Bush is history—until the trials—he has to figure out what to do next. Hypocrisy bashing has always been a strong suit; media hypocrisy bashing is proving to be both funny and insightful