Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I'm happy to learn that Brian Williams has been suspended without pay for six months because now I can foresee a moment that's recently seemed unimaginable -- a moment when we're not talking about Brian Williams anymore. We'll no longer be pondering deceptions so egregious that even new-media gotcha squads didn't notice them in real time. We'll no longer be engaged in endless hand-wringing about the integrity of a news broadcast few of us actually watch, hosted by a man so vital to our national current-events conversation that hardly anyone ever quoted him before this month. We have more Williams dirt to sift through (did he really lobby NBC executives to let him leave the news division and take Jay Leno's job at The Tonight Show, as New York magazine's Gabriel herman reports?), and the dirt-dishing, plus reports of other moments of truth-shaving, will probably make it difficult for him to come back after the suspension ends (as Dylan Byers notes at Politico), But in a week or two we'll move on to other subjects. I can't wait.

The Williams suspension coincides with the news that Jon Stewart will leave The Daily Show sometime this year. Stewart's show has been hit-or-miss -- too many bits have devolved into a cascading serious of dick jokes -- but when he locks on a target, he does extraordinary work. Someone will get Stewart's show, and his proteges are all over TV now, but I suspect that no will ever express pure, visceral loathing for Fox News in the way he has on a sustained basis. That's been his bit -- in comedic terms, I think there's so much respect for him that his successor will change the emphasis, for the same reason that Stephen Colbert probably won't do Top Ten Lists at CBS. I'm not saying Fox will never be a target on the post-Stewart Daily Show. But Fox was Stewart's white whale, and I'm betting it won't be for whoever replaces him.

The real shame is that even though members of the non-"fake" news media respected Stewart, and spoke reverentially about his influence on their understanding of their own business, no one in the legitimate press followed him up Bullshit Mountain to pursue Fox News as a story. Do you understand what I mean by that? Fox isn't just a news organization with a somewhat different take on current events - it's an Orwellian propaganda ministry for a large, white nation-within-a-nation that votes in every election and therefore decides the political course of the larger America no matter how much of a lock Democrats seem to have on the presidency.

What Fox has done to America is the great untold news story of our generation. Jon Stewart got that, and mainstream-media figures admired him, but the mainstream press never followed up on his stories. The MSM figured he had it covered (or, more likely, figured that he never had to worry about suddenly needing a job in an industry where only Murdoch seemed to be expanding).

So Stewart, along with the comics he'd mentored, were alone on the media equivalent of Tora Bora. And Murdoch and Ailes got away. We got Saddam Williams, but the liars who really committed terrorist assaults on the truth escaped.


Victor said...

Beautiful, Steve.

FOX will now go on, even more unchecked.
And without open and almost daily mocking, they might even try to take their brand of bullshit up some more - though, now much there is left, I don't know. But, I don't underestimate the imaginations of Murdoch and Ailes.

Maybe the MSM will see it, now that Stewart will be gone, to continue of expand on his FOX criticism.

Sometimes, I even crack myself up.

Anonymous said...

Eh - if the Daily Show ceases to be a media commentary show and becomes something else, then someone will pick up the "skewering of the media" gig that Stewart had and continue to do it - there's too much comedy to be mined from it.

And if you're skewering the media these days you have to put Fox News right at the top - it's the highest rated AND consistently provides the most fodder for mockery. And because they're the highest rated it means you're always punching up, not down - which makes for the best kind of comedy.

I mean, CNN also puts on some egregiously stupid baloney on a daily basis, but nobody watches them so there are only so many times you can mock Don Lemon before it becomes sad instead of funny. Mocking Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity never gets old.

mlbxxxxxx said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but why the hell not -- the suspension of Williams seems pretty lame, imo. It'd be great if he had enough integrity to resign, but if not, fire him. This is, "wait six months hoping everyone forgets about it then we'll go on like it never happened." But I, too, hope it means we don't hear about it anymore. I fired him, and most of the rest of the talking heads, a long time ago -- can't really stand to even watch MSNBC much anymore. The way they produce news these days gets on my last nerve -- a lot of it due to following Fox News in the ratings war -- things like random sound effects, bips and boops, dings and wooshes -- drive me nuts. And the content is an endless rehash of exactly the same shit.

Here endeth the rant.

As for Fox:

Nobody "serious" is going to attack Fox, Fox has been too successful. Fox is the model. Why would you dis the model?