Jon Stewart and Crossfire

Over the past week there has been a lot of talk about Jon Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire. If you didn’t hear about his appearance, during the show, Stewart blasted Tucker Carlson and I guess by near vacinity, Paul Begala saying ‘”What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.” Stewart also added that this “is hurting America.”

I think what Stewart said was generally right on the money and I’m in awe of how bright and funny he is. He’s the best political satirist I’ve ever heard, as he’s smarter than any other political comic and funnier than any politician, plus I’m selling him short by not mentioning that he’s smarter than most politician’s, also.

Having said all this, I believe he had the right message, but pointed it at the wrong person. No person on any of these “Crossfire” shows tries to be more civil in discussion than Tucker Carlson. Even though I often disagree with him, he’s immensely more fair than James Carville, who just rams his talking points at all opposition or Robert Novak, who pushes the Republican party line, even though you can tell that sometimes he doesn’t belive in it. Begala is a less bombastic version of Carville and I have problems with them appearing as commentators on the Presidential campaign, when they have been working behind the scenes helping the Kerry campaign. (By the way, when George Will was in this same circumstance, as his wife was working on the Bob Dole campaign, I felt that was wrong, also.) I like both Carville and Begala, but I think they work better as guests, not interviewers.

I know a lot of my Democratic friends hate Carlson, but I think you need to take a closer look. Carlson and Bill Press did a show together on CNN a few years ago that tried to not be like Crossfire, having discussions that weren’t so ideological, but the show failed, as the cable news viewers didn’t connect with it. Carlson’s weekly show on PBS titled Unfiltered is an excellent show, taking on the major political news of the week, with a healthy dose of cyncism. Just last week his guests were James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy and sometimes critic of the current Iraq war, NPR’s Weekend Edition Host, Scott Simon, and comedian/actor Harry Shearer. Hardly a group you would consider Right-wing.

Jon Stewart was right on the money with his screed against these Crossfire-type shoutfests, but he chose the wrong guy to spit his venom at. I would be far more impressed if Stewart would have sent his message to Sean Hannity, as there is a guy who never admits any wrong from his side of the political fence.