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The Truthiness About Fake News: Stewart and Colbert Tell It Like It Is

September 4th, 2008 by Max Gladwell · 5 Comments

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report deliver superb, award-winning commentary and satire. But don’t call it news.

It’s no secret that we’re big supporters of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert. In fact, WebEcoist recently featured Max Gladwell among its 25 Best Green Blogs, noting that “you’re as likely to read about The Daily Show or the election as you are to read about water saving myths and green social sites.” We’re also known to live Twitter the shows, which usually end up being time delayed via TiVo.

We qualify ourselves as supporters of the shows as opposed to fans because it’s more about the medium and what it represents. We support the role they play in echoing the thoughts, frustrations, and absurdities of mainstream news and politics in ways that make us laugh. If laughter is the best medicine and the Bush Administration is a disease, then Stewart and Colbert are the cure.

What prompted us to finally write this homage was last night’s show and how a particular clip has gone viral on the social web.

We were watching and Twittering this masterful mashup of hypocricy. This morning, we noticed it was being promoted on Digg. We dugg it somewhere in the hundreds and left a comment somewhere between 51 and 100 with a link to our own Indecision 2008 election coverage. We read the comments and dugg a few of those. Most expressed the same type of sentiment: where the hell is the mainstream news media? How does this level of hypocrisy go unchecked by all but Stewart? Not surprisingly, you couldn’t find a single comment defending these “cable news douchebags”. Not that we read them all, as there were far too many. As of this writing, it has 8,874 Diggs. It’s the most popular story of the day by a magnitude of two, as decided by the Digg People in a most democratic way.

Partisan Republicans will call this liberal media bias. With a straight face, mind you. Regardless of the fact that the hypocrisy is staring them in the face. Because that’s what partisans do.

One of the things we appreciate most about Stewart and Colbert is that they don’t discriminate. They, like us, are just as quick to call bullshit on Democrats as they are Republicans, because we all know they are just two sides of the same coin, especially partisans. It’s the job of the partisans to defend their party, their candidates, and their positions at all costs, which just seems so absurd to us. Listening to Republicans support and defend Governor Palin is the epitome of partisanship because it’s so obvious that they don’t mean what they’re saying. We liken this to improv.

When Palin was announced, it caught most Republicans by surprise. It was like being handed a simple improv setup: The candidate is an inexperienced, first-term governor from the least-populous state in the Union, having also been mayor of a town of 7,000 people. She hasn’t been properly vetted, so we found out that despite advocating that all American teens practice abstinence and denying a woman the right to choose, her 17-year-old daughter is five-months pregnant. Despite being a reformer, she’s accused of lobbying for earmarks and abusing her power as governor in a personal matter. Go out there and defend her with all you’ve got…even if you have to contradict what you said two months ago on your own show.

Instead of looking at this in any objective sense and deciding for themselves, partisans tow the proverbial party line. You find it on both sides of the aisle, and it’s insulting because it amounts to lying. You can’t prove it, but you know it’s there. Partisans are disingenuous and lie in the name of their party. They sacrifice their integrity in exchange for political ideology and some measure of cash in many cases. You could give them Joseph Stalin, and they’d make a case why he’s better qualified to lead than the opponent. “He slaughtered millions of his own people. That’s executive experience that the other side just doesn’t have.”

So we’re thankful that we have blogs and independent media to expose hypocrisies when mainstream media won’t. We’re thankful that Stewart and Colbert have their shows, which are very blog-like, and that we have Digg and social media to extend their reach beyond cable TV. Because while it may not be news in a traditional sense, it’s essential content and commentary on our laughable system of news and politics.

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Tags: Media · Politics