Elias Isquith on Jon Stewart:
It’s the shallowness of Stewart’s politics that leads to his other notable weakness as a political pundit… his tendency to fall prey to the trap of blaming “both sides.”
Exactly. Stewart will end his run as host of “The Daily Show” this year, but he lost Swamp Rabbit and me back in 2010, during his “Rally to Restore Sanity,” an event based on the false premise that loud extremists on both sides “here [Washington, D.C.] and on cable TV” were to blame for government gridlock and the sad state of political discourse in America.
It was all very lofty and self-promotional and willfully ignorant of the fact that Republicans were in lockstep, blocking halfhearted efforts by Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress to pull the country out of the Great Recession. They were doing then what they’re still doing, except they now have a majority in both houses of Congress and are up against a lame-duck president. (OK, he was pretty lame to begin with.)
The point is, Stewart was and is a master of false equivalence, which our ostensibly centrist media uses to avoid the hard work of evaluating the information they gather. As Paul Krugman noted, long before Isquith:
America, it goes without saying, has a powerful, crazy right wing. There’s nothing equivalent on the left — yes, there are individual crazy leftists, but nothing like the organized, lavishly financed madness on the right.
But centrists have a very hard time acknowledging this asymmetry; they love to assert that both sides are equally wrong — and often seem to feel the need to invent extreme positions when they don’t actually exist.
That’s Stewart, always lambasting the obvious knaves on the right and straining to find their counterparts on the left. Always disingenuously echoing Rodney King’s plea that “we all get along.” In the end, the message of Stewart’s cutesy style of comedy and his fake news is hey, they’re all knaves, you’re better off just sitting on your asses watching my mildly amusing TV show than taking an active stance against the people who are wrecking your country.