But there is still something that bugs me . . .
I know many people disagree with this, but I find the fact that Jon Stewart is now one of the most trusted news anchors in America very troubling. The Daily Show is not a legitimate news source, and Jon Stewart is not a journalist.
Stewart insists that his show is merely satire -- intended to mock the political elite -- but, over the years, it's become much more than that. Younger audiences have increasingly turned to the Daily Show for political commentary, and mainstream media organizations have lauded Stewart for his journalistic skill.
All of this would be fine if The Daily Show was slowly accepting higher standards of journalistic integrity as it earned more of the public's trust. But no one expects this. Instead, we expect hard-hitting stories that we can trust, without any journalistic accountability to justify that trust. We want to have our cake and eat it, too. And The Daily Show is more than happy to let us think we can.
There is a real irony here. Anyone who's listened to Jon Stewart talk knows that this is precisely the line of attack that he uses against the mainstream media. Cable news stations especially have abandoned actual reporting in favor of infotainment. But this kind of news doesn't actually inform its audience; it simply gets us riled up. It doesn't allow us to examine the facts on our own; it force-feeds us the news from a certain perspective.
During his scathing interview with Jim Cramer, Stewart conceded, "You know, look, we're both snake-oil salesmen to a certain extent. But we do label the show as snake oil here. Isn't there a problem selling snake oil as vitamin tonic?"
There certainly is. But if Stewart identifies himself as a snake-oil salesman, why do so many people seem to think he's selling vitamin tonic?