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Jon Stewart is what he is and that’s fine

March 14, 2009
Scren grab from ComedyCentral.com

Scren grab from ComedyCentral.com

Phil Bronstein said yesterday that “Jon Stewart is not Edward R. Murrow. But neither is he Carrot Top. He is more like Jonathan Swift, the brilliant 17th/18th century satirist and author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels.'”

I can live with that assessment, but Linda Thomas makes a good point, too: “The definition of a journalist is changing. Stewart’s piece was researched, direct, challenging. Better than many journos.”

To which I’ll add: Exactly. Jon Stewart isn’t Edward R. Murrow, he’s sure as hell not Carrot Top and I really don’t think he’s Jonathan Swift, either. He’s becoming this one-of-a-kind journalist/satirist hybrid (and to an extent, Stephen Colbert has done the same thing as a politcal commentator/satirist) and judging by the buzz he gets every time he takes on one of these journalistic endeavors, his style might be one worth emulating.

Does it really matter that he’s “a comedian”? He did the research, he debunked CNBC — it wasn’t the Washington Post or the New York Times out in front of this one. And the argument of, If I can’t do successful stand-up, how come Jon Stewart gets to be a reporter?” is ridiculous. You know what? It doesn’t matter what someone is, it matters what they do. If I successfully cut a tumor out of a guy’s torso, it doesn’t make me a surgeon, but the guy’s still alive and that’s what counts.

People aren’t so dumb as to think that The Daily Show is always a reliable source of journalism (those who do think that are hopelessly dumb anyway and will probably never read actual news). But on those occasions that actual journalism (or something better than it) happens, there’s nothing wrong with people appreciating it and asking traditional news sources, “Where the hell were you on that one?”

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