Friday, November 19, 2010


Last night, Jon Stewart brought back his Glenn Beck impersonation. This wasn't as sharp a segment as in Stewart's two previous performances as Beck -- but nevertheless, this was probably the widest media exposure Beck's appalling, crypto-anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros have received anywhere, apart from Beck's own broadcasts, which are watched mostly by the Beck cult. Maybe you knew that Beck had recently been redoubling his attacks on Soros, and maybe you'd heard that Beck was being accused of anti-Semitism, but did you actually watch any of it? Did you read any detailed descriptions of what Beck put on the air? Just go about 1:50 into this clip and get a sense of what Beck's putting out there:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
George Soros Plans to Overthrow America
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Soros as regime-destroying, election-stealing, currency-manipulating "puppet master"? It's awful stuff. It's Father Coughlin in code. And even if the rest of the segment went a bit off the rails, Stewart did a public service just by giving us a taste of what Beck is putting out there.

The mainstream press doesn't cover Beck this way, and it doesn't cover Beck the way Media Matters does -- here's a Media Matters compilation of Beck Nazi smears (e.g., "Beck compared TARP to 'what happened to the lead-up with Hitler'").

Most news outlets seem to think that Fox is just in the same business they're in, but with a somewhat different editorial skew. Maybe they think there's too much emphasis on ideology and opinion -- but they all seem to agree that what the people on Fox do is merely report the news and comment on the news. It's essentially a more right-wing, heated-up CNN or Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Jon Stewart and Media Matters understand that the content on Fox ought to be the subject of news stories. They know there need to be stories about what Beck and his colleagues are saying. It's important to make Fox the subject of news reports because (obviously) Fox is a political operation rather than a news operation, because Fox is extremely popular, and because Fox has the ability to inject hatemongering and conspiratorial lunacy into the national conversation. Fox is where this stuff comes from.

The press has never seemed to care about tracing lunatic memes back to their origins -- not wth Limbaugh, not with Michael Savage, not with any other radio talker since Coughlin. Failing to report where crazy people get crazy ideas is a bit like telling the public that two skyscrapers collapsed on 9/11 without mentioning that someone deliberately brought them down. Stewart's a comedian -- it shouldn't be his job to do this. It should be the rest of the media's job.

Here's the rest of last night's Stewart bit:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Manchurian Lunatic
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

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