It was contentious and dramatic. On Sunday, June 19, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace grilled funnyman Jon Stewart on his obvious liberal bias and Stewart replied, “… there is not a designed ideological agenda on my part to affect partisan change ...”
The exchange got heated when Stewart held that line, telling Wallace, “You can’t understand, because of the world you live in, that there is not a designed, ideological agenda on my part to affect partisan change, because that’s the soup you swim in.”
Well, “designed” or not, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” mocks the right far more than it does the left, and a survey of the 16 broadcasts since the Wallace-Stewart run-in proves it.
CMI found that Stewart went after Republicans and Fox News (which he labels “conservative”) almost four times as often as liberals and Democrats in just two weeks of shows. However the next eight broadcasts proved that Stewart just couldn’t help but show his true, partisan colors.
Whether he was poking fun at Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her perceived Waterloo/John Wayne gaffe or calling Fox News a “lying dynasty,” Stewart’s ever-present bias comes awfully close to that of an “ideological, partisan activist.”
Stewart set sights on GOP
Just two days after June 22 his “Fox News Sunday” appearance, Stewart’s agenda included spending nearly 25 percent of his broadcast mocking Republican Senator John McCain.
McCain was Stewart’s target for a perceived gaffe he made about illegal immigrants possibly starting the recent devastating Arizona wildfires. McCain claimed there was “substantial evidence that some of these fires [were] caused by people who have crossed our border illegally.”
“The Daily Show” put a devilish looking McCain on screen with the words “Aliens vs. Senator” followed by an “interview” with Senator John McCain (a puppet made in his likeness.) The balding puppet donned a curmudgeonly attitude, was extremely forgetful and rude, and began the segment by inappropriately shouting “Build the dang fence!” The “interview” was more than three minutes long and concluded with the puppet McCain blaming illegal immigrants for stealing his reading glasses and hiding his TV remote.
McCain wasn’t the only Republican in Stewart’s sights: Michele Bachmann was similarly scrutinized for her gaffes involving John Wayne’s birthplace, and the founding fathers. But Bachmann got extra special attention from Stewart; not only were her “gaffes” mocked, but her physical appearance and her husband’s profession as well, with Stewart all but accusing Mr. Bachmann, a therapist, of being gay.
Blasts on Bachmann
Since conservative women candidates are prime targets for biased media attacks, its no surprise Stewart launched five attacks against 2012 White House GOP hopeful Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. In a six minute, four second segment on June 30, Stewart made fun of Bachmann’s eyes, height, and knowledge of American history.
In an attempt to paint Bachmann as the anti-Romney, he pointed out that “He’s a man, she’s a lady. He’s tall, she’s short. He looks directly into the camera; she looks just to the right of it.” He then highlighted the incident in which she said that “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa,” a point some later disputed.
Stewart continued the Bachmann hits by sarcastically stating, “She’s not out there screwing up important stuff like you know, the era of history on which she bases her entire philosophy of government.” He then played a portion of her interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous in which the two went back and forth on “Good Morning America,” discussing whether or not John Quincy Adams was a founding father. He concluded the segment by naming Bachmann and Palin as the GOP’s “American history-challenged hotness.”
Stewart got out the wrecking ball for Bachmann’s husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, suggesting he is gay. In an astonishing 11- minute, eight-second segment, Stewart attacked Marcus Bachmann for his alleged gay therapy counseling profession and called an “expert” on set to help him repress the urge to make homosexual jokes. Stewart proceeded to talk himself out of it by saying:
“Just because Dr. Bachmann’s therapy to cure gayness does real damage to real people and he is seemingly curing them so he can hoard all the gayness for himself, that is no reason to let your primal urge to ridicule this seeming hypocrisy out. Just turn it off. Like a light switch, turn it off.”
Stewart then called in Jerry Seinfeld his “comedic repression therapist” to help calm his comedic urges. “Just because this guy runs a therapy practice that purports a terrible societal pressure on gay people, it doesn’t mean that I should give into my darker comedic urges,” Stewart maniacally told Seinfeld. “But I want to so bad Jerry, I want to so bad.” Jerry replied with the tongue-in-cheek line, “We talk about this in group, Jon. Comedy is a choice, John. You weren’t born this way. You can resist it, you must resist it.” The two ended the segment making fun of Dr. Bachmann’s gay-sounding voice and dancing skills.
But Stewart had an even bigger beef with Fox News, a network he claims is, “A biased organization relentlessly promoting an ideological agenda under the rubric of being a news organization …” he said on March 9, 2011. Its no surprise then, that in the weeks after his interview on Fox, Stewart leveled 21 minutes of attacks (12.6 percent of his total broadcast time), against what he the “conservative” Fox News Channel (a claim he made on his June 23 broadcast).
Hits on Fox
The day after his interview aired on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, Stewart began his June 20“Daily Show” broadcast with a 2-minute, 22-second attack on Fox in which he claimed Fox heavily edited the interview to make him look extremely emotional. According to Stewart, Fox not only edited the interview but the network is so unbalanced “their ears are nearly touching the floor.”
The next evening, in a five minute segment, Stewart called Fox a “lying dynasty.” Stewart facetiously apologized to viewers for misspeaking when he said in the interview with Wallace that Fox viewers are “the most consistently misinformed media viewers.” He informed the audience that politifact.com, had contacted him and corrected him, saying that in some polls, Fox viewers are only “near the bottom” of misinformed viewers.
Stewart then went on to cite a list of 20 “lies” that Fox News Channel anchors and reporters have repeated in the last two years, according to politifact.com. This list prompted Stewart to claim Fox was a “lying dynasty.”
Hits on the Left
Stewart managed to include a few light jabs at those on the left, but the “hits” only accounted for 6.6 percent of his total broadcast time. The “mocking” consisted of poking fun at the former governor Rod Blagojevich’s lyrical choice prior to his court appearance, and MSNBC’s editorial choice to leave Willie Geist in the shot when TIME Magazine’s Mark Halperin apologized for saying the president “acted like a d**k.”
A whopping 30 percent of the combined attacks on the Left were found in one segment in which Stewart made fun of Blagojevich for quoting Elvis – not exactly an “attack.” Stewart thought lyrics from “Jailhouse Rock” would have been a more appropriate choice than “All Shook Up” when Blagojevich described his feelings of having shaky hands and weak knees heading to the courthouse.
The Culture and Media Institute included a two minute and 12 second segment as a “jab” at the Left in which Stewart mocked an editorial decision by MSNBC producers, simply because it ridiculed the left-leaning network. Stewart pointed out that when Halperin apologized for his inappropriate remark about the president on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” MSNBC contributor Willie Geist was in the camera’s view during the apology.
“What you didn’t know was that his apology would be chaperoned by show regular Willie Geist’s disapproving glare,” Stewart said. “…Seriously, why is he in this shot? You can’t grab a one shot?”
The 132 second, light-hearted segment was 15 percent of the hits that Stewart delivered to the Left during those three weeks of broadcast time on “the Daily Show.”
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