We act like this is some special case, right?
Like wow, Jon Stewart is righteous! He’s brave! He’s the only one who can tell us the truth! Tell it like it is, man!
We act like he’s some outlier. Like he’s got some unique ability to cut through the crap and put the rest down on the floor.
Like every journalist everywhere, like every talking head on TV, like every columnist trying to justify his existence, could not open up his fucking cakehole and say something exactly this cutting, exactly this accurate, exactly this true, every single goddamn day of his life.
Like this couldn’t be everywhere, every night.
“But … but … he’s on cable! He’s on Comedy Central! He can do whatever he wants!”
So can you.
Yes, yes you can. No, shut up. I said shut UP, God, you pathetic whiners. You can do whatever you want to do. What you WANT is to keep doing what you’re doing, and yet be pissily resentful of how much attention and acclaim Stewart gets because you don’t like how he makes you feel, what with him being a grown-up on earth and all. You WANT to have a job where you have a job.
Which is fine, but let’s not confuse being stationary with being paralyzed.
“He doesn’t have a responsibility to be objective and present both sides of everything!”
Neither do you.
Yeah, you heard me. Neither do you. Sack up.
You get that you’re blaming a system that is entirely constructed by you, right? You get that you built the cross to which you’re nailing yourself so firmly? You know who decided journalists had to be “objective” and that “objectivity” was a synonym for “toothless?” JOURNALISTS DID THAT. Journalists draw the circle and decide who is inside it and who is out, and they do that every day.
Journalists created “fact-checkers” so they wouldn’t have to sort out which politicians were lying and when, nor face those politicians after rating their bullshit themselves. Journalists have idiotic arguments over whether bloggers can be journalists even if they don’t have Very Special Journalist Camp patches on their fucking sleeves. Journalists created those badges and man, journalists are mad that lots of people doing journalism don’t give a fuck about them.
Journalists laid back and took it when year after year after year wingnut after wingnut after wingnut called for their outright assassinations, and considered themselves beholden to politely stating that that was just one point of view.
And journalists set an agenda, every single day, with what they cover and don’t cover. With how they present the virulent racism and staggering paranoia in which most of this country marinates, with who they quote and when they quote them, with the stories they can’t see and the stories they don’t want to see, and then those same journalists, those same editors and producers, act like they are powerless to affect the conversation.
It’s a dodge. It’s a way of getting out of doing work and taking responsibility for that work. (I never ascribe anything wrong with journalism today to bias when there is so much laziness and stupidity and bad thinking to get through first.) You don’t have to do what Stewart did here, but admit it’s because you don’t want to, not because you can’t.
Journalists can tell any story they want to tell, any way they want to tell it. And the rest of us can stop acting like we have to accept anything less than the very best they can give us. Whether that’s a monologue like this, or an editorial calling for a stand with the powerless against the great, or a decision to stay with a difficult story long after everyone else has piled in the news vans and gone home, we need the very best journalism can give us and when we get less and we get whining about it, we need to do less shrugging about it.
Nobody’s ironic detachment and low expectations are doing them any good anymore.