Fake News Beats The Real Thing In a Laugher

Serious news types regularly bemoan the younger generation’s new habits — “They get their news from things like The Daily Show!” Horrors!

Pretty good source, I’d say. It only took the Good Grey New York Times five days to catch up with Jon Stewart. A week ago, Hillary Clinton hit all the network Sunday talk shows in a regal romp through somnolent traditional journalists feeding her cues for clumps of her stump speech. But she regularly, on every show, erupted in eerie laughter at some of the tougher questions. It was like Rudy Giuliani getting a phone call from his current wife in the middle of five interviews in a row.

Jon Stewart Tuesday night ran a collage of these laughkeymessages. Seeing them one after another made them look like what I think they were — scripted, calculated attempts to show that Hillary is “human” and “warm” and “has a good sense of humor.”

This Sunday’sNYTimes has a story about the laughs. Five days after Jon Stewart took the trouble to show his audience context, pattern and meaning — something good journalism is supposed to do.

Does it matter if Hillary is now erupting, as Frank Rich writes in a Times piece today, “in a laugh with all the spontaneity of an alarm clock buzzer”? A little it does. How people act, how they carry themselves, gives us a look into their souls, according to historian Edward Gibbon. So rather than carrying yet another story about the horse race of meaningless polls or another round of “he said she said” soundbites about who has enough experience, Jon Stewart gave his audience a look inside Hillary Clinton. And Stewart will regularly, when a politician or government official says today he’s for motherhood, show a clip of him speaking against motherhood a couple of months before. Context. Part of responsibly presenting news.

I’m proud to say I get some of my real news from fake journalist Jon Stewart. Oh, gotta go, my third wife is calling…and she’s laughing.

-Bruce Benidt

6 thoughts on “Fake News Beats The Real Thing In a Laugher

  1. The other thing that people fail to understand is that — even putting this great example aside — you *can* get your news from the Daily Show. The formula is simple. It’s basically:

    1) Statement of news fact
    2) Mention of amusing context or hypocrisy (optional)
    3) Punch line

    So part 1 is your news, part 2 gives you a bit more info, and part 3 makes the whole package interesting and worth watching. Charlie Gibson might be smart and serious, but I’m not a AARP member yet.

  2. A few months ago, Al Gore was on the Daily Show and said something along the lines of “The great thing about your show in comparison to network news is that you hit the audience with one or two of the most important current events of the day.” And he was right.

    I watch it every night just to see what I missed in the world and enjoy a chuckle from Stewart’s poor impressions or his “Senior Correspondents.”

    Either way, it’s not fake news when you are bringing current events. And there is nothing wrong with throwing some satire along with it.

    P.S. The Hillary Clinton bit was hilarious. It was scary to see how she seemed to act like a robot with the laughter. I remembering hearing her misplaced laugh during the “Face the Nation” podcast, and I was like “What was that?” Classic.

  3. Dave Jackson says:

    Most of the features done by the correspondents on the Daily Show are quite similar to those shown on the real news, except that the Daily Show airs them for what they are, whereas regular news carries them with a nauseating level of self-importance and seriousness.

    Same thing with Colbert in his parodies of talking heads. The messages are the same; what’s missing is the self-importance that goes behind them.

  4. Regg says:

    Hillary is going to lose. Why do you think Rove, Bush, etc. are all proclaiming her the presumptive Democratic nominee? It’s because they want her nominated because she is easily beatable.

  5. jloveland says:

    OK, I love the Daily Show. Tivo it every night. And I agree that it often gives me more to think about than the mainstream news.

    But at the same time, I worry about it being treated as a substitute for mainstream news. The information-delivery part of the Daily Show is extremely shallow (one sentence often characterizes an extremely complex development), and people need more than that to develop an informed decision. I think I remember hearing that Stewart characterizes it as a dessert you have after a meal of more comprehensive news.

  6. Sure, but if it’s a case of “getting no news” or “getting your news from Jon Stewart,” I’d prefer the latter. I’m not in that position (I get all my news directly from Michele Malkin 🙂 but for plenty of people, that’s a fact of life — Daily Show or no show (or no newspaper or no NPR or no anything).

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