In a recent segment on The Daily Show Jon Stewart notes the contrast between hackers and potheads whom the DOJ targets and the big banks that continue to be prosecution proof. He leads into this with a segment that compares the Obama administration’s words to their action in their commitment to freedom of the press.
The LULz just keeping coming over a juxtaposition of news clips that no other news source would put together. You get news stories about: the prosecution of state-run marijuana shops, a man who faces twenty-five years for hacking a Taylor Swift article, and otherwise boring C-Span clips of the coverage of the DOJ’s attempts to find a bank they can prosecute. This isn’t news, it’s political commentary with jokes. What distinguishes political commentary from news is that it goes beyond stating facts, it combines facts to suggest new ideas.
The Daily Show on Hackers, Potheads, and Banks (not) \”Too Big to Jail”
Thirty years ago, Jon Stewart’s role would have been filled by a columnist, nestled below Doonsebury on the back of the Opinion section. But Jon Stewart doesn’t have to state his facts. With the power of video to show you, rather than tell you, the news-makers hang themselves with their own words.
Most of what he says are jokes; the commentary is in the juxtaposition itself. This is what The Daily Show does best. Where the newspaper columnist of yore would paint a picture with facts and statistics, they make a collage of news clips that, alone, would be the tripe of another news day but together emphasize the hypocrisy, folly, or failure of their target. He doesn’t have to say that the administration’s targeting of journalists and sources goes against their stated values, he can prove it by showing clips of Obama’s words contrasting with his actions. Likewise, by showing a bunch of clips wherein the DOJ passes out prison sentences to hackers and potheads while those who caused the bank crisis go free, he can let the condemnations go unsaid. The video clips say it all, leaving him to make a joke of the irony.
They don’t have to do this. Nothing about The Daily Show requires political analysis. When it began, it was little more than a half-hour competitor to Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.” If you’re old enough to remember the show Not Necessarily the News you know that jokes can be thrown over a news show without giving analysis too. But it’s often the case that while Jon Stewart is making Jew jokes and funny faces, the clips his team puts together are making astute political arguments that can make you angry and make you laugh at the same time. Any given episode of The Daily Show inspires more pathos than an entire season of The Cosby Show. As it should, because you begin to think, hey I listened to CNN all morning and nothing hit me as hard as that four minute segment on The Daily Show.
Following this is an equally brilliant segment wherein Jason Jones interviews a conservative lobbyist who was a victim of the IRS’s recent political targeting. Then it’s a Physics chat with Morgan Freeman. Here’s the full episode: The Daily Show with Morgan Freeman 5-23-2013.