Jon Stewart’s media critique is spot on

He’s doing what real journalists ought to do: when Donald Trump states an outright lie, like I never said “lock her up”, it is the job of real journalists to look up the record and hold him to account. Fox News drones don’t, but is that what we really want to do, is hold up Fox “journalism” as the standard we need to meet?

The problem is that only small children and babies want to be spoon fed the stories they want, and get mad if they’re given the facts that they need, and we have a country full of MAGA babies who want nothing but their pablum.


  1. robro says

    And those babies seem to be unaware or unwilling to wake up to the fact that Fox is uniquely tuned to the position of the oligarchs. I don’t watch any news…other than Jon Stewart occasionally…because they all tend to be mouthpieces for the powers that be. But Fox is a special case.

    Incidentally, Rupert Murdoch got married again yesterday to a retired Russian molecular biologist, Elena Zhukova. He’s 93. He’s fifth marriage.

  2. Alverant says

    Reminds me of when Newt Gingrich claims he never said something even after being shown video of him saying it.

  3. awomanofnoimportance says

    It’s probably a given that all presidents of both parties lie at least occasionally. But Trump’s lies strike me as different in kind from anything we’ve seen before. Previously, when presidents lied, it was to get policies that they couldn’t have gotten otherwise (Bush lying to get us into war, Reagan lying about Iran Contra) or to try to avoid consequences for bad behavior (Clinton lying about sex) or to or merely for personal aggrandizement (Biden making stuff up about his background.)

    But it is possible to tell those specific types of lies while at the same time giving lip service to the notion that objective truth really does exist, even if you don’t happen to be telling it at the time.

    With Trump, though, it’s more like the scene from the novel 1984 in which O’Brien holds up four fingers and demands that Winston say there are five. Not only is it untrue; it’s an attack on the very concept of truth itself. When Trump holds up four fingers, his base can be counted on to fall in line and scream that there are five, and you’re a libtard if you claim otherwise.

    And I find that really frightening. A culture that has abandoned the concept of objective truth does not have long to live. All the more reason to pull out all the stops to keep him from having another term.

  4. says

    What killed me later in the episode, he was interviewing Ken Buck, former R rep from Colorado and Buck said “People know that most politicians lie”.

    Do they? Or do they know and not care? The apathy of the electorate is the real problem.

  5. Walter Solomon says


    Or do they know and not care?

    It’s beyond not caring. They want to be told lies because the truth isn’t always nice to hear whereas sweet little lies are always pleasant.

    An honest politician will eventually run into the problem Carter did when he made the “malaise” speech. He was too truthful and it hurt. That’s to be avoided at all costs.

  6. Dunc says

    @ #3:

    As Harry G. Frankfurt put it, in On Bullshit:

    Someone who lies and someone who tells the truth are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game. Each responds to the facts as he understands them, although the response of the one is guided by the authority of the truth, while the response of the other defies that authority and refuses to meet its demands. The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

  7. rorschach says

    Jon Stewart manages to make the looming demise of the USA sound fun and entertaining, whereas Sarah Kendzior takes you with her on a journey of what is about to be lost, and what has been lost already. I know what I prefer.

    “When Trump holds up four fingers, his base can be counted on to fall in line and scream that there are five, and you’re a libtard if you claim otherwise.
    And I find that really frightening. A culture that has abandoned the concept of objective truth does not have long to live. All the more reason to pull out all the stops to keep him from having another term.”

    Exactly true, but one might argue that Biden in his unwavering support of war crimes in Gaza, of environmental destruction, of police violence, of denial of the ongoing pandemic etc etc, is not so different with regards to the outcomes, we just give him the benefit of the Democrat doubt.

  8. drew says

    Thank goodness there are paternalistic liberals to tell us all that paternalistic liberals are not “the problem!” What would we do without them?

  9. awomanofnoimportance says

    No. 7, I am far from being a shill for Biden or the Democrats. I would go so far as to say that I trust Biden about as far as I could throw his Secret Service detail.

    That said, the idea that the two parties are “not so different with regards to the outcomes” is silly. Biden is at least trying to talk sense into Netanyahu; Trump would happily help commit war crimes. In terms of environmental destruction, police violence, and the pandemic, the Democrats may be bad but Trump would be catastrophic. And on issues like abortion and gay rights there is simply no comparison; the US no longer has abortion rights at the national level explicitly because Trump was elected president. On tax policy, on having a good social safety net, and on standing up to actual fascists like Putin, there is simply no comparison.

    Our choices are not between Biden and something better; our choices are between Biden and something cataclysmically worse.

  10. Jazzlet says

    It is noticeable that those who repeat the “they’re just the same” line are, as far as I can tell, all male and abortion rights clearly just aren’t that important to them.

  11. says

    @ #9: At the same time the Dems are against anything that could turn the ship around. Trump is an insane choice for an insane world. And I kinda get it. If you’re going over the edge no matter what, why not jump jump and keep the illusion of control?

  12. awomanofnoimportance says

    No. 11, the Democrats have a practical problem in that the things that would actually turn the ship around are politically unpopular and would probably ensure that they never won another election. For example, the only real ways to stop climate change would completely crash the economy, and no politician of either party is actually going to do that.

    That said, politics is the art of the possible; you do what you actually can. I hate that my two choices are Trump and Biden, but those are my choices, and I’ll get more of what I want under Biden than I will under Trump.

  13. microraptor says

    @ #11: Spoken like a privileged asshole who feels secure in the illusion that they can behave badly because they won’t be the ones suffering for it. This election is literally a matter of life or death for millions of queer people, women, and minorities in the US.

    Biden might suck on many levels, but voting for him in 2024 means the possibility of voting for someone better in 2028. Voting for Trump means abandoning democracy altogether and letting the Republicans turn the country into an actual dictatorship.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    Another example of the party of “lock her up”:

    “Marjorie Taylor Greene Pushes To ‘Defund New York’ As Retribution For Trump conviction”

  15. says

    @12&14: Look, I’m not arguing for Trump. I’m just trying to make sense of the Trumpists.

    Truth is that the American public have been bled like a pig for half a century, and both parties are guilty of this crime. I agree that Biden is better than Trump, but it’s like arguing for why a small shit sandwich is better than a six course shit buffet.

    Privileged assholes will of course go all in as they believe their money and power will protect them from any consequence. But what about all the “average Joes” that support him? Do they really believe he will save them?

  16. awomanofnoimportance says

    Oh, different Trump supporters probably have different reasons for supporting him. There are probably some who actually like his policies; there are probably some who think he’s God’s chosen one, and there are probably some who like him because he hates the same people they hate. The Republican establishment hates him almost as much as I do, but because their base loves him there’s not much they can do.

    The reality is there are actually four Republican parties. You’ve got the libertarian Republicans who just want small government. You’ve got social conservatives who only care about banning abortion and gay marriage. And you’ve got the Main Street and Wall Street Republicans who only care about making lots of money and not paying taxes on it. And there are the deplorables who are, well, deplorable. Of course those world views are in conflict with one another, but they all see liberal politics as being a threat to their way of life, so they’ve formed a coalition against the Democrats. (I know, the Democrats are hardly liberal on a lot of issues, but relative to Republicans they’re practically Marxists.) It’s a situation of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  17. says

    Good explanation, thank you.

    The binary nature of US politics seems to almost guarantee fucked up result, as both only need to be a better choice than their opponents. By European standards it’s not even Left and Right, it’s more like Right and Rechts. Without a third option it will probably stay a perpetual choice between skirting the edge or steering into the abyss.

  18. jrkrideau says

    Since I don’t really care about internal US politics and policies, I am slowly coming to the conclusion that out of the two incompetent, senile, fools leading in the US Presidential race, Trump through his incompetence and Mafia-like appreciation of risk may be a better bet.

    So far, Biden and his clown crew have initiated a war with Russia, are supporting genocide in Israel/Palestine, and seem to be doing their damnedest to start a war with China.

    Even at his worst, I don’t think Trump was quite so reckless.

    As mentioned above, I really do not care about internal US policies unless it means waves of refugees coming over our borders.

  19. John Morales says

    Biden and his clown crew have initiated a war with Russia

    Wow, here’s a post about how utter bullshit and evidently ridiculous counterfactual lies are passed off, and you instantly try to trump Trump.

  20. John Morales says

    How’s it go?

    “I don’t care about this, so this is how my opinion about this thing about which I supposedly don’t care is changing.

    (Listen to yourself!)

  21. Rob Grigjanis says

    jrkrideau @20: I find it hard to believe an educated adult could be so transparently disingenuous.

  22. says

    There was probably some commentator (or equivalent) who kept pointing out how fucking funny the collapse of the Roman Republic was. If there was, their name is lost to history.

  23. KG says

    Confirmation that Modi’s Hindutva-fascist BJP has lost its parliamentary majority. If the other components of the surrealistically-named “National Democratic Alliance” stick with him, he will be PM, but this is not a completely foregone conclusion: I’ve seen a report that one party in this alliance is demanding the removal of the vile Amit Shah as home minister. Even if a BJP-based coalition is successfully formed, there may be a reasonably effective opposition (the INDIA alliance), and Modi is not used to having to compromise with coalition partners. At any rate, Indian democracy lives to fight another day, when its demise looked almost inevitable.

  24. KG says

    Further to my #25, a huge difference between Biden and Trump (and their respective parties) is their attitude to the climate emergency. While Biden’s actions in this respect are considerably short of what is needed, Trump would simply abandon any attempt to reduce emissions, and the Republicans are fully in the grip of denialist lies.

  25. F.O. says

    @drksky #4:

    They LIKE when a politician lies, as long as the lie makes them feel like they have power over someone.

    A lie to “own the libs”? Yeah, take that libtard!
    A lie to hurt The Other? The Other deserves it!
    A lie to save his own butt? Well he needed to stay in power!

    Everything can be rationalized.

    People who vote for Trump, fascists, authoritarians and xenophobes don’t have the same values you have.
    For them, lying is not such a big deal as it is for you, because the only thing that they actually, really value is power or the feeling of power.

    They are frustrated and feel powerless, so they want to attach themselves to someone who can get away with (for example) lying, they want the feeling of vicarious power.
    BTW, this is why “cruelty is the point”: cruelty is an expression of power over someone: “I can hurt you and you can’t hurt me.”

    Read their actions in that light, and everything makes sense.

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