Saturday, February 14, 2015

Imagining Jon Stewart in the anchor chair — not

Variety's co-editor in chief Andrew Wallenstein wrote:
There’s been plenty of evidence for many years suggesting meaningful numbers of Americans get their news from entertainment programs like “The Daily Show” or “The Tonight Show” instead of actual news programs. Planting Stewart in the “Nightly News” anchor chair is really just taking that trend to its logical conclusion.
Talk about completely missing the point of Stewart's work over the last sixteen years!

Stewart hasn't been trying out a different version of the nightly news: he's been trying to make the news live up to its own high standards. He doesn't want us getting our news from a comedian! He wants our news to be good enough that someone like him has to find something else to mock.

(That said, the continued idiocy rampant on the 24-hour news networks suggests Wallenstein isn't the only one who has completely missed the point of Stewart's critiques.)

I'm sure Stewart, the consummate satirist, is familiar with Paddy Chayefsky's brilliant satire Network (1976). He's not going to set himself up as a real-life Howard Beale. (We came close enough to that in the person of Glenn Beck.)

The Anchorman As God is a played-out approach with anyone under fifty, true. That doesn't mean the Anchorman As Court Jester is the way to go.

Wallenstein obviously didn't spend the ten seconds needed to imagine Stewart's reaction to being in Brian Williams' chair: "I've held the media up for ridicule for sixteen years. I've made merciless fun of their every slip. Why in God's name would I make myself the piñata for the next wiseass host on The Daily Show to bash?"

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