Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Hardly "Fearless"

Harry Stein on comedian Jon Stewart in The Wall Street Journal: Laugh Winger:
...the fair-minded viewer might find the half-hour show intermittently humorous, but he won't detect anything "fearless" or even especially original in it. In truth, Mr. Stewart's elevation to near-iconic status says more about those doing the elevating than about the comedian himself. His "bravery" and much-vaunted grasp of political nuance consists mostly of his embrace of every reflexive assumption shared by every litmus-tested liberal holding forth at every chic Manhattan dinner party.

Those assumptions cover everything from the religious right (scary) to easy sex (yummy), but Mr. Stewart's No. 1 obsession, like that of many of his fans, is George W. Bush. Almost every major event Mr. Stewart deals with, foreign or domestic, is an excuse for Bush derision. Depending on the story at hand, the president is a reckless cowboy or a devious schemer, an inept fool or an immoral knave. Pressed, Mr. Stewart would probably be comfortable with all of the above. Often he will simply show a brief clip of the president speaking, then silently react, his look showing bewilderment or dismay, as his audience, their own contempt for all things Bush once again confirmed, erupts in laughter.
I'd have to agree with this. The Daily Show can be very funny at times, but making fun of President Bush is hardly an act of courage. Bring back Craig Kilborne!

One interesting fact: according to Mr. Stein, Frank Rich has written 16 stories on Jon Stewart. He only joined the show in 1999, so that's almost three stories a year. A quick Google search seems to miss most of them, but the earliest date found is 2003. You'd figure an important writer like Mr. Rich would be able to come up with some new material.