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Jon Stewart tells MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: Rally proved left vs right is wrong fight to highlight



colbert-stewart.jpgDaily Show host Jon Stewart chose MSNBC host Rachel Maddow's show for an extended talk Thursday on the meaning and purpose of his Rally to Restore Sanity. His point: that news networks which focus on liberal/conservative, Democratic/Republican fights are focusing on the wrong flashpoints in society.

Stewart suggests corruption and non-corruption. Or what's working and not working.

Maddow offers a game attempt at defending his criticisms, but I think they both overlook something important -- at least in the clips I've seen.

Corruption stories take lots of time, lots of effort, sometimes they don't work out, sometimes they result in lawsuits and they don't generate half the passion of partisan political battles.

CNN is struggling with this problem in primetime mightily. Stewart sums up the problem himself without knowing it, by citing CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's "keeping them honest" reports as something he likes but finds slightly absurd. Because that's what all news reporting ideally should do.

"It would be like me introducing - I've got a new segment called 'telling jokes to an audience,'" Stewart said, grinning widely. "It's just, whenever you hear that, you're like, isn't that what this whole thing is?" What Stewart doesn't note, is that Cooper's shows have plunged in the ratings. Because cable news viewers at 10 p.m. aren't nearly as interested in such reports as they are in discussion that cheerleads their point of view.

The daytime news mix of most cable newschannels is a melange of discussion segments about hot news topics (usually politically-oriented), reports on the news of the day and compelling video bits (like runway model who falls off the catwalk). Primetime is an array of opinionated voices offering more pointed discussion of the stories mentioned earlier in the day.

All of that is relatively inexpensive and holds viewers' attention in primetime much longer than straight news reporting. Which is why every cable newschannel practices a variation of the formula.

Still, it's a nice discussion that Stewart and Maddow have. Watch it below:

[Last modified: Friday, November 12, 2010 5:10pm]


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