Jon Stewart Challenges Fox News To A ‘Lie Off’ – He’s Gonna Lose

Last night Jon Stewart opened The Daily Show with a commentary (video below) on how his announcement that’s he’s leaving did not go unnoticed. He took particular umbrage at Megyn Kelly of Fox News for saying that “he was not a force for good,” and that “in his later years he got a little nasty.” But surprisingly the part that bothered him was “in his later years.” He then insisted that he still has “four to five productive years left,” but eventually he would hit “the last four or five angry confused years, or as they are sometimes referred to, the Fox News viewer demo years.”

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Then Stewart played clips of Fox Newsers accusing him of ignoring facts to offer nothing but “sarcasm, insults and dishonest editing.” (Sounds like watching Fox News). Once again Kelly was highlighted alleging that Stewart had “no foothold on the facts.” That spurred Stewart to challenge Fox News to a “Lie Off,” a contest that guarantees a victory for Fox News. He then played a six second Vine video that contained 50 Fox News lies. PolitiFact reviewed all of the lies in Stewart’s Vine video and agreed that every single one of them was false (eleven of them Pants On Fire). However, that evidence, as Stewart noted, would have no impact on Fox’s twisted perception of reality because…

“You see…Something of a conventional wisdom about this show has taken hold on the right. A thought that they’ve become so comfortable with that they don’t feel the need to offer evidence to support it. That we lie and distort things all the time to make them look bad.”

Stewart marveled at the suggestion by Rush Limbaugh that he “poisoned the Republican brand,” and after showing hilarious clips of how Limbaugh represented that brand asked “How do you poison a cyanide factory?” Then, challenging the notion that Fox cares about the truth, Stewart stated something that has been obvious for years, that “What matters to the right is discrediting anything that they believe harms their side. That’s their prime directive.”

Despite the conventional “wisdom” that Stewart mentioned, conservative media has often recognized the many times that Stewart’s wit was aimed at President Obama or other Democrats and liberals. Fox News has trumpeted those segments dozens of times. (News Corpse has documented them here and here). Nevertheless, they suffer a peculiar sort of amnesia that causes them to forget his even-handedness whenever they feel like bashing him again over some new perceived slight.

While conservatives may be celebrating the sunset of the Stewart Era on cable TV, they are forgetting that he will be replaced by somebody, and it will probably not be Dennis Miller or Sarah Palin or some other right-wing clown. There is a reason that there aren’t any conservative comedians (or any funny ones). Their world view is inherently humorless. It is consumed by fear and hatred and worship of the privileged. Jokes about the homeless, or sick folks without health insurance, are only funny to the ignorant, the sadistic, and the GOP (or Greedy One Percent), who are only aware of their own selfish concerns.

That’s why Fox News suffices as a comedy channel for conservatives. It’s as close as they can get to it. But liberals also find humor in some of the ridiculous and embarrassing statements that tumble from the tongues of Fox’s personalities. They also learn things from Stewart and gain insight from his well-informed satire. That’s why you hear many of them say that they get their news from Comedy Central and their comedy from Fox News.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

To Rachel Maddow: Fox News Doesn’t Give A Fig About Bill O’Reilly’s Lies And Threats

The scandal engulfing Fox News, and its star blowhard Bill O’Reilly, is picking up steam as well as new allegations of dishonesty and flagrant self-glorification. The latest episodes of O’Reilly inventing harrowing journalistic adventures include his false assertion that he was present at the suicide of a figure associated with the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and his claim to have witnessed nuns being executed in El Salvador.

The initial response to the evidence that O’Reilly repeatedly lied about his experiences in Argentina as a “war zone” correspondent “in the Falklands” was to launch an attack on the reporters who exposed him and the so-called “liberal” media overall. He called them “liars, guttersnipes,” and “far-left zealots.” Even worse, when approached by a reporter from the New York Times he warned her that if he was unhappy with the story “I am coming after you with everything I have. You can take it as a threat.”

Bill O'Reilly

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Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the issue was raised to inquire as to whether O’Reilly’s turpitude might disturb his employers or colleagues (video below). Maddow did an excellent job of explaining the events that led up to O’Reilly’s threats, but then she entertained the following scenario:

“Fox News has a bunch of folks like Mr. O’Reilly on their shows. It’s part of why I call them Republican TV. But they also have a lot of real reporters on staff who do real reporting all day long on real news. They have White House correspondents, and congressional reporters, and even media reporters. And I’m sure they don’t take kindly when their own reporters get threatened for trying to do their jobs. But it is hard to imagine what this is going to do to the work environment at Fox News Channel for the Fox News Channel’s real reporters, and they do have them.”

Maddow surely has decent intentions in characterizing Fox News as a network that employs real reporters. However, there is scant evidence that it is true. Their main anchor, Bret Baier, presides over a daily roasting of President Obama. Their chief White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is a deeply biased right-winger with open hostility to the President. Their media analyst, Howard Kurtz, went out of his way to defend O’Reilly in an embarrassing display that evoked either fear or fawning or both.

But one thing in particular that Maddow said was way off the mark. It is not hard at all to imagine what this is going to do to the work environment at Fox News. It isn’t going to do a damn thing. As fake news guy Jon Stewart correctly pointed out: “No one’s watching [O’Reilly] for the actual truth.” And referencing O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” tag line Stewart noted that “Misrepresenting the zone he is in is kind of his hook.”

Fox News is a network born of deceit and devoted to the dissemination of propaganda. They couldn’t care less if they are discovered to be distorting reality because that is what they were created to do. Their founder and CEO, Roger Ailes, has no scruples when it comes to stuffing his roster with partisan clowns, as evidenced by the existence of Steve Doocy, Sean Hannity, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Keith Ablow, and, of course, Bill O’Reilly.

When some of his mouthpieces began to fray at the edges of sanity, Ailes admitted to keeping them on the air long after he had determined that they were detrimental with justifications that were purely political. The reason Ailes gave for putting off Beck’s departure was that he “didn’t want to give MoveOn and Media Matters the satisfaction.” And with regard to why he re-signed Sarah Palin after first letting her contract expire, he said that he hired her back to “piss off the people that wanted her dead.” How does that comport with the production of “real news.”

As for O’Reilly, he is a known ratings winner who satisfies the lust for wingnut outrage that boils in the withering hearts of the Fox News audience. Ailes isn’t going to risk that without some intense pressure being applied, and maybe not even then. He knows that O’Reilly is a hate monger whose persona is dripping with animus and ego. A study done a few years back by Indiana University revealed the depth of O’Reilly’s bullying attitude:

“The IU researchers found that O’Reilly called a person or a group a derogatory name once every 6.8 seconds, on average, or nearly nine times every minute during the editorials that open his program each night.”

Consequently, Fox News is well aware of how O’Reilly behaves and they approve. The only thing that might impact their decision to stand by him is if advertisers bail out in droves, which is what happened to Glenn Beck. And then they still kept his show on for a period of time to avoid looking like they caved in. In O’Reilly’s case, they would more likely announce his retirement after some twenty years on the network. It would then be announced that he would produce occasional specials and continue to write books about killing people. Which is an especially appropriate legacy for a bully like him to pursue.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Media Matter and MoveOn have a petition calling for Fox News to Hold Bill O’Reilly Accountable. Go add your name to it and let the advertiser community know that America’s television viewers aren’t going to stand for this.

The Queen Of Astroturf Doesn’t Know The Meaning Of Astroturf

When Sharyl Attkisson left CBS over her flagrant insertion of conservative political bias into the stories she covered, she might have tried to rehabilitate her decaying reputation by affiliating herself with a credible news organization. Instead, she immediately signed up with Fox News (not exactly the place to prove your aren’t shilling for the right) and took a position with the The Daily Signal, the pseudo-news Internet outlet run by the ultra-rightist Heritage Foundation.

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Her post-CBS work has mainly been limited to three areas of shameless whining: 1) Bashing those in her past that she felt had discriminated against her freedom to propagandize; 2) Promoting her anti-Obama diatribe “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington;” and 3) Telling paranoid (and ultimately debunked) tales of being spied on by shadowy, unnamed enemies in the government determined to destroy her professionally and personally.

Continuing her transparently prejudiced crusade against a select group of imagined adversaries, Attkisson has published her list of “The Top 10 Astroturfers.” In the process she has demonstrated that she is viscerally determined to persist in slandering her perceived foes. What’s more, she is proving that she doesn’t have any idea what Astroturfing is. For the record, here is the generally recognized definition of this neologism:

Astroturf: An apparently grassroots-based citizen group or coalition that is primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms. It seeks to disguise a powerful special interest as a popular movement.

On that basis, here is Attkisson’s list:

  1. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Everytown
  2. Media Matters for America
  3. University of California Hastings Professor Dorit Rubenstein Reiss and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Dr. Paul Offit
  4. “Science” Blogs such as: Skeptic.com, Skepchick.org, Scienceblogs.com (Respectful Insolence), Popsci.com and SkepticalRaptors.com
  5. Mother Jones
  6. Salon.com and Vox.com
  7. White House press briefings and press secretary Josh Earnest
  8. Daily Kos and The Huffington Post
  9. CNN, NBC, New York Times, Politico and Talking Points Memo (TPM)
  10. MSNBC, Slate.com, Los Angeles Times and Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC and Jon Stewart.

There is not a single group on the list that meets the definition of an Astroturf enterprise. The one that comes closest is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense due to its relationship with another group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, MDA was started by an actual mom in Indiana and has a membership of more than 150,000. The rest of the list is patently absurd.

Media Matters is a watchdog group that documents conservative bias in the media. It does not lobby any government entity, organize citizens to demonstrate, or otherwise engage in social activism. However, it is one of Attkisson’s most effective critics and thus won the number two slot on the list.

The U.C. professor and Children’s Hospital have worked on educating the public about the importance of vaccinations. Apparently that has stirred Attkisson’s ire. Also in this category are a few science-related blogs. However, Attkisson doesn’t explain why they should be on the list other than because they have a point of view. She never even bothers to try to connect them to some well-heeled benefactor. In any case, universities, hospitals, and independent blogs are not Astroturfers by any stretch of the imagination.

The most well-represented group on the list are media enterprises. They range from mainstream outlets like CNN, NBC, and the New York Times, to established magazines and Internet sites like Mother Jones, Salon, and Politico, to more alternative sources like Daily Kos, and the Huffington Post. The only conceivable reason for Attkisson citing these media players on her list is that they are all regarded by conservatives like herself as left-leaning, and therefore deserving of her wrath. But they are certainly not Astroturf.

Attkisson really goes off the rails by including the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart on the list. How can anyone define either of them as faux grassroots-based citizen groups backed by wealthy special interests? More than any other people or groups on the list, these two show that Attkisson cannot be taken seriously.

Attkisson describes her list as “an informal, non-scientific survey.” Her footnote reveals that “the results represent 169 Twitter respondents who answered a public query either directly or through direct message.” What could possibly be more ludicrous as a sampling of opinion than a tiny group of respondents to her own Tweet? Is Atkisson purposely sabotaging her reputation in a public spectacle of professional suicide? The remainder of her commentary accompanying the list essentially redefines Astroturfing to fit her personal enemies list. It’s like dieters defining cupcakes as vegetables so they can eat more of them.

If she wants some examples of bona fide Astroturfers, she need look no further than her employer the Heritage Foundation, which began as a right-wing think tank, but with new leadership provided by former Republican senator Jim DeMint, it has become a full-fledged factory for fake activism. Under DeMint’s tenure it launched the Daily Signal which publishes highly biased articles including those by its new correspondent, Sharyl Attkisson.

Other Astroturfers include the Tea Party Express, which was founded by a Republican public relations firm and is notorious for funneling nearly all of the donations it receives back into its own pockets. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Numerous Koch brothers funded entities like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Generation Opportunity, The LIBRE Initiative, Concerned Veterans for America, and many more. Even Sarah Palin has joined the con game with her Super PAC and the subscription Internet site she launched that often has no content for days on end. In all of these cases there is little evidence of public support, but massive bankrolling by wealthy conservative rainmakers.

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A recent study by a conservative news organization highlighted the rampant corruption in many of the right-wing Astroturf enterprises and political action committees. The Washington Post reported that…

“Right Wing News released a report on a group of conservative PACs that took in millions of dollars in contributions in 2014, ostensibly for the purpose of electing Republicans, but spent almost none of it on actual political activity. Instead, the money went into the pockets of the people who run the PACs and their associates.”

This appears to be the rule, and not the exception. And part of why it becomes so easy to rip-off the ignorant wingnut community is that fakers like Attkisson permit the scams to proceed without consequence. By shining her spotlight on an array of organizations that in no way qualify as Astroturf, Attkisson allows the grifters to operate freely while their victims are lost in a maze of false accusations.

The Sad Missed Opportunity Of Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show

When Stephen Colbert Announced that he was leaving The Colbert Report to take over David Letterman’s Late Night on CBS, there was an understandable heaving of sighs at the thought of losing one of television’s most unique and talented observers of politics and the press. Colbert had forged a trail that had been unexplored for years and even brought his fake comedic persona into the real world with appearances before Congress, newsmaker interviews, and founding his own Super PAC that raised more than a million dollars.

While fans could look forward to his reemergence as the host of Late Night, the vacancy at Comedy Central gave the network the opportunity to build a new franchise with a fresh outlook. Their selection of Daily Show alum Larry Wilmore was a positive sign. He is a bright, experienced, likable, and truly funny personality. The anticipation for his premiere was bursting with hope.

Larry Wilmore Nightly Show

Unfortunately, the reality has not lived up to the expectations. Rather than presenting a program that could carry on in the tradition of satirical media scrutiny and, when appropriate, ridicule, the Nightly Show took a lazier approach that mimicked what many cable news networks already provide.

The opening segment is the best part of the program. It features Wilmore seated anchor-style at a desk delivering his take on the news of the day. The problem with the show is all of the rest of it.

By choosing to conduct a panel discussion with people that are often neither funny nor interesting, the Nightly Show took the lazy way out. What made Colbert and Jon Stewart shine was their penchant for bringing together the best professionals to write and produce highly entertaining and thought provoking material. There is no way that a bunch of random people sitting around a table engaging in extemporaneous banter, that is mostly attempts to impress the other panelists, is going to have the comedic punch of a well-scripted and rehearsed program. It takes work to be funny, insightful and entertaining, but what the Nightly Show did was to fashion a weak copy of The Five from Fox News and then lean back for a snooze.

The Nightly Show has very little preparation or input from pros with a track record for producing laughs or connecting with an audience. Consequently, the Nightly Show, in this format, can never have the relationship with viewers that Colbert and Stewart have had. As evidence of its failure, note that almost every episode of Stewart’s and Colbert’s shows resulted in clips being posted online that got as much or more attention as the original broadcast. The same thing happens with bits from John Oliver’s HBO program, Last Week. But this has rarely happened with Nightly since its debut a month ago?

Part of the problem is the array of guests. Those who have been reasonably good were the ones with actual experience in show business. However, the politicos and press performed no differently than they might have on CNN. That is not what most people watch Comedy Central to see. And the worst of it comes in the form of blatantly exploitative and hacks like anti-vaxxer Zoey O’Toole, and Amy Holmes, who reports for the conspiracy-kook/televangelist Glenn Beck. Why would Wilmore give someone like that a platform on his show?

However, even with better guests there is no substitute for professionals with experience doing the hard work of crafting good comedy. And that is what Nightly is missing. It’s not too late to retool the program. Let Wilmore unleash his proven talent as a comedian the way he did in his appearances on the Daily Show. Strip out the gimmicky bits (i.e. Keep it 100) that will only become tiresome over time. Wilmore does not have to imitate Colbert, but he can learn from the format that was always changing things up. Colbert had The Word, Tip of the Hat, Better Know a District, the Threat Down, etc., and he kept them fresh by not doing hackneyed versions of them every day.

There is still an opportunity for Wilmore to become his own kind of icon over time if he’s committed to putting in the labor and collaborating with other talented pros. Television has enough panel sessions with people speaking off the top of their heads and saying nothing of interest. Wilmore is better than that and I hope he realizes it soon and trusts himself to carry the whole show on his own.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

On a separate but related matter, there will soon be another vacancy on Comedy Central’s schedule. When Jon Stewart leaves, the network needs to replace him with someone who can fit the format and expand it to even higher heights. It doesn’t have to be a superstar. Nobody knew who Stewart was when he took the helm from Craig Kilborn. (Although if they could scrape up enough cash to hook Tina Fey that would be awesome). But there is someone who seems to be uniquely qualified and well-suited for the job. John Fugelsang is a talented comedian with a broad knowledge of politics, current events, and culture. He can pontificate on matters that are serious in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and connects with an audience.

John Fugelsang

Fugelsang has the TV anchor good looks that draw people in before they’re aware that they are about to be hit with a punch line. And he has experience with both hosting a television program and interviewing people from politics and as well as other walks of life. It was Fugelsang who got Mitt Romney’s communications director, Eric Fehrnstrom, to compare campaigning to an Etch A Sketch, thus cementing his reputation as a flip-flopper.

Jon Stewart Is Leaving The Daily Show – Brian Williams Is Leaving NBC News – COINCIDENCE?

Breaking News in the Mediasphere: The controversy surrounding Brian Williams has led to an announcement by NBC management that, effective immediately, Williams will be put on a six month suspension without pay. They describe the punishment as “severe and appropriate” and leave the door open for a return, although without making any overt assurances of that outcome.

Within a couple of hours of that announcement, it was reported that Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, will also be stepping down sometime this year. While there is no scandal associated with Stewart’s separation (that we know of), it is nevertheless a profound blow to the world of media. Stewart has been a sharp, insightful, and hilarious observer of news programming for the past seventeen years.

So what to make of these near simultaneous bulletins? After digesting all of the possible repercussions and consequences, intended and otherwise, there is only one reasonable conclusion that can be reached:

Jon Stewart NBC News

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That’s right. Jon Stewart will be taking over the NBC Nightly News and assuming the duties of managing editor for the network’s news division. It’s an obvious choice considering his long history of media criticism and deep understanding of the workings of contemporary journalism. Stewart knows precisely where the pitfalls are for reporting stories that have real impact on the lives of ordinary Americans. He, more than anyone else, will be able to avoid the sort of embarrassing gaffes that he so deftly mocked on The Daily Show.

As for Brian Williams… What better assignment for someone with an abundance of experience on late night talk shows like David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon (where Williams so brilliantly slow-jammed the news) than to take over the now empty seat on The Daily Show? Williams has proven that he has a quick wit and his spellbinding tales of wartime peril show that he can handle fake news as well as any satirist.

On a serious note, Jon Stewart would be sorely missed under any circumstances. But coming so soon after the loss of Stephen Colbert, the state of political satire is taking a real punch to the gut. Stewart has won nineteen Emmys as writer and producer during his tenure at The Daily Show. And despite the fact that right-wingers suffer a knee-jerk animosity for him, Stewart has been more than fair and balanced. This has even been documented by Fox News who have done more than forty stories (listed here and here) celebrating Stewart’s willingness to go after President Obama and other liberal people or ideas. And his reputation for honesty and accuracy far outshines that of Fox News (see Fox News vs Jon Stewart vs Politifact).

Of Course, whatever grief comedy lovers feel today may be temporary. Colbert will shortly reemerge as the host of CBS’ Late Night. And a new host for The Daily Show will be christened and could be just as talented and stinging as Stewart. Think Lewis Black, W. Kamau Bell, Jessica Williams, Jeff Jeffries, or maybe the husband wife team of Jason Jones and Samantha Bee. Could John Oliver be coaxed back? Dare we hope for Tina Fey? And then we still don’t know what Stewart plans for his next act.

Clearly the landscape is shifting. But hopefully there will be some settling before we get too far into the 2016 election cycle. Till then, thanks for all the good times, Jon, and best wishes for the future. And now…your moment of Zen:

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Searching For Liberal Soul-Searching Hypocrisy On Drones

Last week the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on the CIA torture program that was used to extract information from alleged terrorists. The report revealed a disturbing pattern of unlawful activities that failed to produce much, if any, useful intelligence.

The resulting controversy ignited a much-needed debate on the questions of law and humanity. Most conservatives and Republicans were outraged that the report was made public. In fact, they were more upset with the publishing of information derived from taxpayer-funded investigations than they were with the revelations that our national security apparatus was flagrantly violating the standards of decency as well as international and domestic law. And lacking any reasonable argument to defend the actual practice of torture, they attempted to divert the discussion to the public exposure of it.

Another diversionary tactic taken up by the right was to seek an equivalency between the torture program that was mainly advanced by the Bush administration and other programs with similarly questionable methods that could be attributed to President Obama. To that end, Fox Nation posted an article sourced to the Washington Examiner that asked “Liberal Hypocrisy: Why No Soul-Searching On Drones?”

Fox Nation Drones

That would be an excellent question except for the fact that its premise is so far removed from reality you have to wonder where these quibblers have been for the past six years. The article complained that…

“President Obama and his allies are quick to denounce harsh interrogation techniques as torture, framing the renewed scrutiny of Central Intelligence Agency methods as crucial to restoring U.S. moral authority on the global stage.

“They are less eager, however, to apply the same standard to the administration’s reliance on remote-controlled, targeted killings, a drone campaign that critics say invites natural comparisons to extreme interrogations employed during George W. Bush’s presidency.”

How they surmised a lack of eagerness on the part of liberals to renounce drones is a complete mystery. Liberals were the first, and most vociferous, critics of Obama’s drone policy. There is ample evidence that goes back to the very first days and weeks of his presidency. These early critics came from the most staunchly progressive media outlets and were expressing their consistent opposition to practices that demonstrated a lack of respect for human life and suffering. For example:

These are typical of the harsh judgments aimed at the drone programs implemented by the Obama administration by liberal persons and institutions. It has never been ambiguous where progressives stand on this issue. And while there have been some critics of drones on the right, for the most part the same wingnuts who favor torture have been supportive of drones.

In addition to those listed above, filmmaker Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films directed and released a full length documentary blasting drones titled Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars. And some the favorite targets of conservative wrath – comedians – were also among the most biting critics. Stephen Colbert took on the drone issue, as did his colleague Jon Stewart in “Romancing the Drone.” Perhaps the most searing (and hilarious) beating the drone issue has taken was delivered by John Oliver in an extended and entertaining harangue. Sit back and enjoy the show. And don’t let the phony protestations of Fox News fool you into thinking that liberals never took aim at any drones.

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The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
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Jon Stewart “Welcomes” New Daily Show Advertiser: The Koch Brothers (Video)

A couple of days ago while watching the Daily Show, I was struck by what seemed like an unusual commercial for this particular program. It was an image ad from Koch Industries that portrayed the pollution-spewing, anti-worker, right-wing corporation as neighborly shopkeepers that just want make the world brighter and happier. Given the audience composition of the Daily Show it was difficult to grasp what promotional goal the Kochs hoped to achieve.

Jon Stewart Koch Brothers

Well, Jon Stewart noticed the ad as well and was not content to let it go by without comment. And being Jon Stewart, the comment was hilarious. Plus it included a reworked version of the ad with a tag line that will reverberate across the InterTubes: “We’re Koch Industries – The next generation of robber barons bending the democratic process to our will since 1980.” Have a look.

Stewart managed to slam the Koch brothers for buying politicians, exacerbating climate change, poisoning tap water, and advancing their propaganda through academia. He even revealed their opposition to the minimum wage due to their lunatic notion that it would lead to Nazism. These are not generally the sort of things that a television program would say about one of its sponsors.

Stewart has to be given enormous credit for his courage and lack of self-interest in so mercilessly bashing a source of revenue. Perhaps the Koch brothers, and other propagandists seeking to engage in such brazen exploitation, will think twice about it in the future. Whatever benefit the Kochs hoped to gain by this ad strategy, they certainly lost many times over by daring to take advantage of Stewart’s viewers.

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Your Moment Of ZENBC: NBC Tried To Recruit Jon Stewart To Host Meet The Press

From the “Horribly Misguided” file: Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine is reporting that NBC, in a desperation move, sought to snag the host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show, Jon Stewart, to helm their Sunday morning news gabfest, Meet The Press. Sherman writes that…

“Before choosing [Chuck] Todd, NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting Meet the Press, according to three senior television sources with knowledge of the talks. One source explained that NBC was prepared to offer Stewart virtually ‘anything’ to bring him over.”

Jon Stewart Meet the Press

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What on Earth are these people thinking? Stewart is an inspired media satirist with a unique ability to shine a light on the absurdities of newscasting and the Stepford characters who present the parade of establishment-approved stories. And certainly his popularity with a young and coveted demographic might set the network honchos’ tongues to wagging. But there are so many obvious reasons that this would be an epic disaster that it’s incomprehensible that they would seriously consider it.

First of all, having a substantive, long-form discussion about issues that impact the nation and the world with the people that actually make the decisions is very different than exchanging snide, albeit often poignant, comments for a five or six minute segment of a comedy program. While Stewart is often better informed, and capable of making more relevant observations, than the cast of the current Sunday news shows, the tone of his presentation is entirely inappropriate for the type of programs that air on Sunday morning. And it is his voice, with a thick layer of “what the fuck” over a bewildered mug that makes him popular. He could not get away with that on Meet the Press.

Secondly, whatever ratings score NBC hoped this move would achieve is completely illusory. Let’s face it, Stewart’s fans are not going to get up that early on a Sunday to watch him be serious with a bunch dead-panned politicos and pundits. And the typical, “mature” audience for these shows wouldn’t stayed tuned to Stewart for very long.

Finally, did NBC forget that Stewart’s interviews are only a small portion of the Daily Show. Most of the program consists of comedy monologues and canned bits from his “correspondents.” And all of that material is plotted by a staff of ten or twenty talented comedy writers who help to make Stewart the genius he appears to be. It seems unlikely that NBC would have put all of them under contract to their news division had Stewart signed on.

It’s hard to believe that the prospect of Stewart accepting a position as one of the talking heads that he so masterfully skewers could ever have been taken seriously. It makes no sense from either a journalistic or a business perspective. What would come next? Bill Maher hosting Face the Politically Incorrect Nation? This Fuckin’ Week with Chris Rock? And poor Fox News Sunday, they would be stuck with Dennis Miller (or for a real comedy coup, Sarah Palin).

UPDATE: The Daily Show Airs Segment On Racists Upset About Looking Like Racists

This is to update an article from September 20 wherein the Daily Show interviewed some Redskins fans who later objected to being portrayed as the racists that they are. Last night the segment in question ran with commentary by Jon Stewart on the dispute. What follows is an excerpt from the original article and the video from the Daily Show.

Rednecks

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The setup for the segment involved four Redskins fans who the Post reports “eagerly signed up, most of them knowing that they might be mocked in their interview with correspondent Jason Jones.” The problem arose when they were surprised by a group of Native Americans who confronted them regarding their support for a term that is widely viewed as derogatory.

The Post describes one of the team’s fans as so upset that “she left in tears and felt so threatened that she later called the police.” Seriously? This woman felt threatened by peaceful civil rights activists engaging her in conversation with cameras rolling for a comedy show? The police, of course declined to take any action since there was no real threat and no laws were broken. But the fact that she felt compelled to report this act of felonious funning as a crime speaks to her own guilty conscience.

The fans complaining about how the segment unfolded were fairly open about what troubled them. They did not seem to regret their support for the team name or their own offensive comments. In fact, the Post noted that “All four fans said they still would have gone on the show if the producers had told them in advance that there would be a debate.” What they objected to was that they were allegedly not told that they would have to face some of the people they were maligning. One fan said that he would not have worn his Redskins jacket had he known there would be Native Americans there (Isn’t that considerate of him?)

In other words, they were perfectly happy to use insulting slurs against Native Americans so long as there weren’t any around to hear them. It’s not unlike racists who routinely use the N-word, except when there are African-Americans in the vicinity. It’s the same reason that the KKK wear hoods to conceal their identity. Bigots know that their views are repulsive and insulting, so they take pains to keep from expressing them in the company of those to whom their hate is directed.

Read the whole article here.

Lindsey Graham Is Afraid That We Will “All Get Killed Back Here At Home” (w/Daily Show Video)

Never let it be said that the Republican war hawks ever underestimated the threats that America faces at all times. Despite the fact that we are the wealthiest nation in the world, with largest military, and a defense budget that dwarfs the rest of the planet (in fact, we currently spend more on defense than the next 8 countries combined), some Americans think that we should be in permanent panic mode.

Lindsey Graham

The Chairman of the Panic Caucus has got to be South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. This weekend he told John Roberts on Fox News Sunday that “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.” That sober assessment can be illustrated by some examples of what would have to occur in order for that bloodcurdling outcome to be realized:

  • Of the estimated 30,000 ISIL fighters, each one would have to kill 12,000 Americans.
  • ISIL would have to pull off the equivalent of 120,000 9/11’s.
  • A nation the size Monaco would have to be able to destroy the U.S. and wipe out its population.

Of course, with all their money they could just buy Phillip Morris, whose tobacco products kill 400,000 Americans a year. That’s more than a hundred times the number of Americans killed by Osama Bin Laden. But at the current rate of cigarette sonsumption they would still have to wait about a thousand years for the victims to die off, and then assume that none of them procreate. The upside being that it would be perfectly legal and even profitable.

So Sen. Graham’s paranoia leads him to insist that President Obama “rise to the occasion” and do what exactly? Graham and his ilk say that we should put more “boots on the ground,” which ironically is just what ISIL wants us to do. They would then have more American targets on their battlefield and the prospect of more captives whom they could feature in future execution videos. These right-wing war mongers still can’t explain why that is a better option than having Iraqis and other regional soldiers carry the burden of policing their own neighborhood.

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Here’s how Jon Stewart handled it on The Daily Show: