Crossfire Gets Blown Away

Despite the fact that the news was circling the blogosphere, I wasn’t going to comment on Jon Stewart’s appearance on CNN’s “debate” show Crossfire. For a few reasons:

  1. I’ve only ever watched Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show three times. I enjoyed the episodes each time. Mr. Stewart seems to be a good comedian with intelligent jokes and effective timing. But I can’t exactly call myself a fan.
  2. I have never watched Crossfire willingly. Each time I scan through there on my way across the remote control, I can’t tell who’s talking. I have no patience for programs like that, except to occasionally watch them as one would watch a car crash. As they say, “no intelligent life down here, Mr. Spock.”

So, I got a small smile of amusement to hear that Jon Stewart had gone on Crossfire and basically pasted the left and right-wing arguers, calling them a pox on the political discourse of America. To me, it illustrated one thing, and one thing only: that one should never, ever take on an intelligent comedian in a debate without a whole lot of preparation. If their ability to improv don’t getcha, their devastating timing will.

But I’m commenting now because the good folks at Crossfire won’t let this episode go. Witness this article from The Washington Post:

Jon Stewart, Again in the Crossfire

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, October 19, 2004; Page C07

The left and the right on CNN’s “Crossfire” finally have found something they can come together on.

Both sides hate “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart.


By yesterday afternoon, both sides had had three days to figure out how to spin it, and damage control began in earnest.

At the end of “Crossfire,” Robert Novak on the right and James Carville on the left said they’d received loads of comments from viewers about the Friday telecast. They read two of the messages.

The first, from Toronto, said Stewart’s appearance confirmed his suspicions: “Jon Stewart is the most overrated, overhyped comedian in the world today.”

The second viewer comment — because “Crossfire” is about presenting both sides of an issue — thanked “Crossfire” for “having the guts” to let someone like Stewart speak.

After that, Novak did what the show is supposed to do: present opposing points of view.

“Let me say something about Jon Stewart. I don’t think he’s funny. And I know he’s uninformed,” Novak said, peering meaningfully at the audience.

“I think he’s funny,” said Carville. “I just think he’s a pompous ass.”

And there you have it: these guys know that they’ve been slapped upside the head repeatedly, and from several humiliating angles. They’re preening and hooting, to try and cover their shame.

Thanks ever so much to Jordan Cooper for the great link.

Last word to Jon Stewart:

“They said I wasn’t being funny. And I said to them, ‘I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow.’”

Poor Stephen Harper

I suspect that Stephen Harper’s trial balloon on asymmetrical federalism is being derided not for any deficiencies within his plan, but because he cited Belgium as our role model.

Belgium has had a bum rap for as long as I can remember. It’s the country notable in the high school history curriculum primarily for being rolled over by the Germans in less than a week (despite the valiant resistence that they put up — which I learned of well after this period was taught to me in high school history). Then there was the (more deserved) bad reputation for its part in the mess that became the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Haven’t Douglas Adams and :Buffy: used Belgium in jokes before?

Well, it’s a shame, because Mr. Harper put forward some ideas that may be worth looking at. I’m not endorsing them; I haven’t given them the attention that they deserve, but people are laughing at him primarily because of a country’s name, and that’s wrong. Doesn’t say much about the state of Canadian political discourse at the moment that this is so, does it?

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