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Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing
Jon Stewart's Crossfire appearance on bittorrent

BoingBoing reader bryan says, "Jon Stewart blasted the hosts on CNN's Crossfire for hurting the democratic process instead of helping. He also calls Tucker Carlson a dick. Bittorrent: Link, and transcript here.

BoingBoing reader Hal points us to Salon's coverage (Link), and describes the interview/buttkicking alternately: "Tucker Carlson gets his ass handed to him on a platter -- without falafel to sweeten the taste."

Here's an alternate BitTorrent link: Link. (Thanks, yatta)

Crossfire is an a nonconstructive form of "talk show" and represented the divisive and shallow television media news and politics of today. I'm glad Jon Stewart had the guts to point this out and call them on it. Yay Jon! And yay for Bittorrent too!


I just posted about this as well (, and linked to the transcript (for the broadband-impaired) and another transcript of Jon beating up on CNN on another of their own shows awhile back.

BTW, the book ("America: The Book") definitely has its funny spots as well, I picked up a copy a few weeks ago.

Thanks for posting the link to the video archive. CNN is stupid not to do this themselves. And what a great segment.

He's tired of "journalists" acting as agents for one side or another. Go Jon. Tucker Carlson issued a funny zinger the other day, though. "Listening to Bush talk is like watching a drunk man cross an icy street."

Crossfire used to be one of the most important political shows on cable, before they cut it down to 30 minutes. Now there's no time for anything but a shouting match of talking points. They even have a timer that rings after 30 seconds to cut people off. I think they should take back their 30 minutes from Judy Woodruff and resume the 60 min format. Stewart says the problem with Crossfire is that they argue dishonestly. He misidentifies the problem, the trouble is Novak and Carlson, not the show's format.

I can't believe everyone is fawning over Stewart's little outburst. He's done this before, like on the Wolf Blitzer show, it's his shtick. Stewart is a publicity whore, he's not beneath taking cheap shots if it will create a buzz. He sold a lot of books from his Crossfire appearance even though he didn't mention his new book directly.

I can't believe everyone is fawning over Stewart's little outburst.

I don't think people are fawning. It's called catharsis.

One of the great tragedies that has occured in America during the past several years is this business with our media. Journalists have chosen teams. The two sides have lined up and started beating the drum for their political side; effectively acting as agents for one side or the other. Many of them seem to have totally abondoned any attempts to acheive objectivity. As I see it, journalists with a political bent have two options. They can hold up their responsibility to portray the truth while embracing intellectual honesty. Or, they can tempt fate, color their views, and then lead us down the road to hell.

Jon is pissed about it and so am I.

Stewart is a publicity whore, he's not beneath taking cheap shots if it will create a buzz.

By having the nerve to post our opinions on this popular blog, you and I are both media whores, Charles. And Joi is our pimp.

Of course, you could argue that Stewart is pissing up the wrong tree. After all, Begala and Carlson don't bill themselves as journalists.

Still, I believe that they are part of a systemic problem.

I am hardly a media whore. Jon Stewart is a pro and makes his living off his fame, I'm merely an unpaid amateur. If this was a catharsis, why wasn't there a similar outburst of publicity when he did this to Wolf Blitzer? I guess Jon didn't have a new book out at that time.

Hi, guys. I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like to just throw out his opinions because I don't really feel I've earned the right to. I don't know who exactly would grant me this right, unfortunately, and therein lies the problem. At heart I'm probably afraid that I will say something that will piss someone off and they will come after me in an emotional outburst, one that I undoubtedly would be unable to oh the hell with this...this is really stupid...but alas so am I. Oh, well, I'll throw caution to the wind. I think Stewart's comments were right on the money and pretty damn gutsy. Few would be willing to do what he did if for no other reason than that it would be virtually assured to make most of the people involved (and that includes the audience) at least a little uncomfortable. I haven't seen that kind of rawness on TV in a long long time and I gotta say I'd like to see more of it. And unlike someone like Michael Moore, I think Stewart actually is pretty reasonable in his assertions. Thanks.

CrossFire sucks. They pick stupid issues and they impose a side onto the right or left. There is no thought behind the arguing, no chance of a better way of doing things ever coming out of that POS show.

There are video links in other formats here.

I've never seen Jon Stewart that serious before, it was amazing. Rock.


If Jon Stewart's "schtick" includes pointing out that actors impersonating journalists in the context of a debate on a globally distributed news television channel are a) fake, b) dishonest, and c) irresponsible, then I'm about to go buy ten copies of his book.

Novak and Carlson aren't a "problem", as you say, any more or less than Begalia is. They're all hacks engaging in theatre.

There is probably not a single real journalist anchoring a broadcast at CNN. Aaron Brown tries damn hard, but there are producers telling him what to say, how to say it, and when to say it, along with everyone else on the air there and most everywhere else.

Our standards for what passes as real journalism are, collectively, at such a stupifying, mind-boggling all-time low in the United States that it takes the words of a jester to cut through the bullshit and strike a chord with the general populace.

Discounting the truth on the basis of where it comes from -- which is what you're apparently doing -- is one of the best examples of how americans have managed to remain so stupid, for so long, that we find ourselves in the position we are in today, faced with the unenviable choices that we are.

Oh joy, oh rapture! I was ecstatic to see Jon Stewart's comments. Thank you, thank you, Jon Stewart!!!!

I don't have cable (in part because I hate the punditry) but I'm thinking about getting it just so I can watch Stewart's show.

Like many of the posters here, I'm really tired of the punditry (who are these bozos anyway? what are their qualifications other than a pretty face and an ability to blather off the top of their heads?).

After watching the debates at friends, I was always stunned by the rush after the debate to bring on the pundits. Give me a break. David Brooks and Mark Shields (as well as the other pundits) undoubtedly write a rough draft of what they are intending to say before the debate occurs and they probably make a few minor changes as the debate is ongoing but...thoughtful, unbiased commentary...hardly.

Here's what I want. A news show which actually reports the news. After the debates, I want a detailed breakdown of what the candidates said and which comment is true and which comment is a flat-out lie (or just a mild distortion). I realize this would actually require a news station to do some research (gasp!) and to actually hire people who will work at being unbiased. What a concept.

Where can I send Jon Stewart a thank you? Anyone know?

Crossfire is the only show on any news channel to regularly give air time to dissenting voices like Michael Moore, Al Sharpton, Janeane Garofolo, and yes, even Jon Stewart. I've never seen any dishonest arguments coming from Begala or Carville, which is presumably why Stewart went after Carlson. But to assert that Crossfire as a whole is bad because of lying, disingenuous arguments is to misidentify the problem, it's the GOP hacks, not Democratic hacks, that are the liars, and are the problem.

But what really bothers me is that Stewart is unknowingly aiding the Conservative cause. The Right Wing has worked for years to spread mistrust of the media. Stewart is helping them discredit the media. Once the Fourth Estate is discredited, there will be no watchdogs to prevent the Right Wing from unrestrained exercise of power. Is that what you really want, to throw out the baby with the bath water?

Stewart was probably pissing up the wrong tree, but he was speaking his mind. Many found that refreshing. I seriously doubt that Stewart is going to win or lose the election for anyone with his comments. And as for Stewart accidentally facilitating a Right Wing takeover of the media... well that's a little bit silly. Assuming Stewart even has that much influence, there weren't enough people watching Crossfire that day.

The media is already somewhat useless, whether it's right, left, or whatever. We have a President who cherry picked a nation to attack, lied about the reasons for invading it, and thousands have died as a result. He gambled his presidency on this war and he lost the bet. Now, he and his administration have to pay what they wagered. They must be brought to task and fired, as any incompotent employees would be.

We're in the midst of a pretty serious crisis, but what does the media have to say about it? They talk about Mary Cheney's lesbianism and Bush's likability indices.

It's time the media is brought to task as well; Stewart did his part.

Charles, I hate to say it but the conservatives won the media war a long time ago. Now the major news networks give right wing lonnies equal time rather than try and take them on. In short, they have given up on exposing the blatant lies and propaganda of the radical right. The whole Swift Boat thing should have been over long ago, but the media gave the nut jobs a platform to spread their lies from. After months of this ABC finally went to VietNam and found the people who were actually at the firefight and discredited the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but it is too little too late. The damage was already done and the American public were let down by the media yet again. They are just not there for us when we need them.

After debate 3 did the media focus on any of the mistakes Bush made? Any of the messed up policy statements that he made? No, all they could talk about was Kerry's comment on the Cheney's raising their daughter right. They just wanted to say the word "Lesbian" a million times because they get higher ratings that way.

Defending the media is a waste of time. They do not care about the truth and have become ineffective at what used to be their primary mission, telling people the truth.

Go back and read the New Yorker magazine reports by Sy Hersh, about his discovery of the Abu Ghraib photos, and then try to tell me the Right Wing owns the media.

I'm not saying one appearance on Crossfire discredits the media. I'm saying The Daily Show itself is a mechanism to discredit the media. It results in cynical attitudes towards the Fourth Estate, as exemplified by remarks like Mike B's "the media is already somewhat useless, whether it's right, left, or whatever." The conservatives use the 18-25 demographic of the Daily Show to form lifetime attitudes in their audience, attitudes that condemn the Press as useless. Remember that Jon Stewart's show is owned by Viacom, their CEO supports Bush.

As I said before: standards at a mind-boggling all-time low.

CNN is no more worthy of the even the merest tint of journalistic integrity cast by the term "fourth estate" than is any other major news outlet today, IMO. I do not possess a cynical attitude towards the fourth estate. I merely have specific standards as regards what QUALIFIES for inclusion within it, that are not being met.

When you pay partisan political hacks -- republican, democrat, or otherwise -- to have pointless arguments and broadcast them to hundreds of millions of people under the false pretense of fostering meaningful discourse and debate on the political issues of the day, then you are not part of the fourth estate. You are part of the entertainment industry.

Broadcast network news organizations have all significantly abandoned the principles of thier practice in the name of ratings. We are presented with a sham, hackery, theatre, and rarely if ever anything resembling the unfiltered, un-spun truth.

Stewart simply called them on it. Being explicitly in the entertainment business himself, he's well positioned to recognize Crossfire for the cheap theatre it is, and -- thoroughly understandably -- couldn't bear the idea of these people continuing to pass themselves off as participants in an honest, genuine news and debate presentation, when they fail, utterly and miserably, to qualify as such when put to the most basic and simple tests.

Jon on being critcized for not asking hard hitting questions of John Kerry "You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls! What is wrong with you?"

Beer met monitor.

I heart Jon Stewart. Though I would have liked to heard Jon's actual arguement about why the show is "theatre" and "dishonest", he tried to get there a couple times but the conversation always got steered away. Jon is obviously integrated into the corporate media system whether he likes it or not.

As Charles mentioned partially correctly, Viacom owns comedy central, though actually only 50% (unless you were saying Viacom produces the show and sells it, in which case sorry dude, my mistake). 35% is actually owned by Time Warner, who owns CNN and Crossfire, so it's kind of remarkable that Jon's attacking a program that's owned partially by his own bosses. (I wonder who owns the publishing rights to his book?)

So I'm curious if Jon's critcisim is based on a system that would produce such a show, or the specifics of the actual format of crossfire.

So I'm curious if Jon's critcisim is based on a system that would produce such a show, or the specifics of the actual format of crossfire.

I thought Stewart's main premise wasn't as clearly expressed as it should have been. I didn't like Stewart's silly "begging." He was on very solid ground when chiding Carlson for comparing a comedy show to a news show, though.

Stewart was was egged on by Tucker Carlson and I thought he should have hit Carlson even harder than he did.

Jon is totally correct. The media is biased... (yes both left & right) but more importantly to flash. Substance does not appear anymore (because it's long, confusing, difficult and sometimes very very boring) but it's important that people understand the complexity of these issues, because w/out understanding, democracy is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Debate is imporant, but so many claims made by politicians are intentionally misleading, and disengenoius, and get away with them because a correct response is sometimes as damning as the lie. For example: both candidates lied about Social Security. It's broken, and too say it needs drastic repair (and probably a loss of some benefits) scares voters away. It's also not very exciting.
Shows like crossfire rarely debate this complex (and remarkably non-partisan issue) for things like... "Did Kerry throw his medals away?" "Did the son of a oil billionare get special service in the military?". These issues bare any resemblance to the current campaign, and instead just slander created to avoid the issues.
Jon was not so nicely reminding them the 'issues' are more important than the argument.

For me, the interesting point about this whole debate is the issue of how Stewart has been portrayed and the attacks against him. Stewart is a comdedian. He doesn't pretend to be anything else. He is not a journalist and he doesn't claim to be one. So, why is he being held to high journalistic standards when pundits such as Carlson and Begalia are not held to those same standards?

What frustrates me is that the pundits claim to be journalists or "experts" (an even vaguer concept). They are not. They are, as Stewart points out, simply on television to produce spin, whether we are talking about the Left or the Right.

Moreover, you know what these people will say before they say it so I'm also a little confused as to why we should even bother to watch them (is David Brooks on the Jim Lehr Show going to suddenly endorse Kerry? or is Begalia going to suddenly come out for Bush? There's not even any drama or entertainment in this). Stewart was right to point out these people have closed minds (when he asked them to say something 'nice' about their opponents, they were unable to do so because they are simply there on these shows to push their view and flagellate the opposition---they aren't even there to provide nuanced commentary). I'm a little unclear as to why I should care about Paul Begalia's views or Tucker Carlson's views (frankly, I never even heard of these people before about a year ago and I'm still more than a little unclear as to what their credentials really are). Why should I watch these guys debate something when I already the outcome? I'd be more curious to watch two undecided voters debate a few issues.

I'll be frank, though. The one thing I really want is news. Facts. How much is the deficit? What is happening in Iraq? Why did we go there? I want these facts and I want to draw my own conclusions from the facts. What I don't need is an overpaid 35 year old to tell me what he thinks. I honestly don't care what he thinks and I want to know why stations like CNN, PBS and other similar stations think I would care about someone else's views rather than care about obtaining the facts to help me develop my own views.

It's the Comedy, Stupid.

Damien Cave of the NY Times asks if Jon Stewart is being coy by claiming that because The Daily Show is a comedy show that he's not required to take on politicians with hard questions.

"Whether he likes it or not, Mr. Stewart's mix of news and satire has become so successful that the comedian is suddenly being criticized for not questioning his guests with Tim Russert-like intensity."

Cave notes that "some critics" charge that the size of Stewart's audience should force Stewart to change his soft-peddling ways, given the responsibility that comes with such a large audience. After all, many of his viewers don't watch the news. Stewart needs to step up to the plate and make sure that his comedy show doesn't leave his audience in a lurk when it comes to hard hitting and balanced news coverage.

Cave's point, and the point to his article, is stupid. It's stupid to suggest that Stewart is bound by any journalistic creed. Stewart is a comedian. He is not a journalist. Journalists aren't supposed to be comedians, and comedians aren't journalists.

Stewart is an entertainer. His job is to get people to watch his show by making them laugh. He also gets a larger audience by getting attention for the show. Stewart builds his audience by getting attention from big guests and by promoting the show through the news media. Since there is no pretense to be doing anything other than this, Stewart is not bound by any journalistic standards.

Cave, and the media critics in his article, missed Stewart's Crossfire point. Rather than ask why doesn't Stewart-the-comedian act like a journalist, they should be asking why hell did Crossfire have a comedian on its show in the first place. And if Crossfire is just theater, then why does Cave and others treat it like journalism? This was Stewart's point, and it was a good enough point to draw 1.7 million to hear it on the Crossfire clip. Just because it's funny to note how stupid the media has become, doesn't mean that Stewart should start being being a journalist. That would just be stupid - not funny.