Monday, November 01, 2010

Jon Stewart - - the king of US satire

President Barack Obama waves to the audience after taping an interview for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, DC, Oct. 27. 2010. The irreverent 'news' show is one of America's most popular TV programs.

On Saturday, Oct 30th, three days before midterm elections, tens of thousands of people packed the National Mall in Washington DC at a rally organised by Comedy Central satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, looking for a laugh and the opportunity to display their disenchantment with what the comedians said was a rally to restore sanity to America's political discourse.

It was a twin rally with Stewart leading a Rally to Restore Sanity while Colbert held his rally under the banner March to Keep Fear Alive and the comedians made clear their dismay with the angry mood of the nation.

Jon Stewart who presents a satirist's view of the news in his The Daily Show program, which is popular with liberal audiences, spoke on Saturday of 'fake news,' which he called, “the country’s 24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator,” that he added, “did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.”

“The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous, flaming ant epidemic,” he said, to roars of approval from the crowd.

Earlier in the week, President Obama appeared on The Daily Show to reach out to a young audience but he met some flak.

Clive Crook of The Atlantic magazine commented that the joke was on President Obama.

The president had come, on the eve of what will almost certainly be the loss of his governing majority, to plead his case before Jon Stewart, gatekeeper of the disillusioned left. But instead of displaying the sizzle that won him an army of youthful supporters two years ago, Obama had a Brownie moment.

The Daily Show host was giving Obama a tough time about hiring the conventional and Clintonian Larry Summers as his top economic advisor.

"In fairness," the president replied defensively, "Larry Summers did a heck of a job."

"You don't want to use that phrase, dude," Stewart recommended with a laugh, in a reference to President George W. Bush's infamous praise of his disaster agency head during the the Hurricane Katrina relief fiasco in 2005: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Crook said the indignity of a comedy show host calling the commander in chief "dude" pretty well captured the moment for Obama.

There was worse.

"You wouldn't say you'd run this time as a pragmatist? It wouldn't be, 'Yes we can, given certain conditions?'"

"I think what I would say is yes we can, but..."

Stewart, and the audience, laughed at the "but."

Crook said actually they were laughing at Obama.

Bloomberg Game Changers: Jon Stewart; Bloomberg profiles Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, now Jon Stewart.

Obama on The Daily show