Saturday, 27 October 2007

Jon Stewart on Crossfire redux

The HuffPo has tape of a Q&A with Ben Karlin, who was head writer on the Daily Show for a time until he quit kinda suddenly. He talks about the whole cliche about people getting their news from TDS, and what he says makes sense.

What makes less sense is his take on the famous Jon Stewart Crossfire appearance, when Stewart roasted the two hosts of the show and accused them of "hurting America". (The above link includes the whole Crossfire appearance too.)

According to Karlin, the bit was suggested in an offhand manner by Stewart in a car, and not really prepared, and then they were all really surprised -- and a bit upset -- when it took off the way it did, which you'll doubtless remember.

I don't buy it. I remember the fuss, and I thought at the time and still think that Stewart's position is entirely consistent with his show's approach to stuff. And he didn't just toss off a remark, he came in there with his shtick all prepared, as you can see from the couple of actorly-comedic tricks he pulls, talking about "h-h-hurting us" and so on.

And why not, indeed? He's an intelligent man, so he must have been outraged at the whole Crossfire ethic at some point. And he's a comedian, so why not present his points in a comedic way? None of that is in the least exceptional.

But what is Karlin's message here? What point is he trying to make? Does he have some agenda?

Anyway, happy ending: Crossfire was taken off the air not long after. TDS goes from strength to strength, including a new dedicated website. The good guys won.