Fake News Frets About Jon Stewart’s Return

Daily Show

It is the “fake news” purveyors from the likes of Fox News that will be most impacted by tonight’s return of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and the Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert. It has been a rough two months while these programs were sidelined by the writer’s strike. But the drought is over and politicians and journalists who have had a free ride will be vulnerable once again to the truthiness of Stewart and Colbert. I have long asserted that The Daily Show is as least as reliable a resource for useful information on current affairs as any supposedly “real” news program (see The Real Fake News).

The Writer’s Guild remains on strike and the many people associated with it are undergoing severe hardship. I would have preferred that these programs returned with their writing staff as did David Letterman’s show, but the complexities of the industry are still presenting obstacles to that scenario. But I also believe that our country needs the insight and analysis that is unique to quality satire, especially in an election year when candidates and reporters are scurrying around like cockroaches in the dark. Now we will get to see what happens when someone switches the light on again.

To be sure, these programs may not return quite the same as when they left. They are much more script-driven than talk shows like Letterman and Leno. Even the breaking news segments covered by a lone host cannot reasonably be expected to be on par with the work of a dozen talented comedy writers. They may attempt to mitigate this handicap by relying more on interviews, but that presents its own set of problems as some potential guests may decline to cross picket lines to appear on the shows. And there will be picket lines.

Although the striking writers have said that their picketing is targeted more at the networks and studios than the program hosts, who have been supportive of the writers, there will be reluctance on the part of some to cross the lines. But we should not overlook another benefit of the return of these programs: the hosts will almost certainly comment on the strike in a manner that is favorable to the writers. In fact, Stewart’s guest tonight is Ronald Seeber, Cornell University professor and associate dean in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) and co-director of the ILR School’s Institute on Conflict Resolution. I don’t think he’s there to discuss the upcoming release of Rambo.

So let’s welcome back Jon and Stephen and wish them well. I, for one will be glued to the set, grateful that the establishment pretenders in the press and the political arena will be subjected to the scrutiny and ridicule they so richly deserve.

Oh…and screw the AMPTP! Support the WGA!

Update: Jon Stewart, as I predicted, delivered an inspired rant ridiculing the AMPTP. He also gave a touching tribute to his absent writers saying that the program “The” Daily Show with Jon Stewart, was the work of a talented team that included the writers. So for the duration of the strike, the program would be called “A” Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Nice touch, Jon.

For the record: David Letterman also offered a tribute to his writers, and those still on strike, when he returned to the air. Here’s a video of Late Show writer Bill Scheft slamming the AMPTP: A Message from the WGA


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