Fox News contributor Bernie Goldberg hit back at Jon Stewart today, saying the "Daily Show" host was "throwing spitballs at a battleship" by attacking the Fox News Channel.
The back-and-forth between Stewart and Goldberg began when the former leveled accusations of hypocrisy, claiming Goldberg criticized others for generalizing while doing so himself. Stewart responded to Goldberg's retort with a musical number presumably titled "Go F--k Yourself."
Goldberg said he had "no problem with what [Stewart] did last night," and was "flattered" that he "devoted half of his show last night to me." But Goldberg went on to call a group of Stewart's most devoted fans "sewer rats" for trolling his site with vulgarity during the past couple days, and told Stewart to "man up."
As he often does, Stewart receded into his self-deprecating comedic shell during this exchange. He rightfully noted that he is a comedian, and therefore is not professionally obligated to be "fair and balanced," to use the catchphrase he so enjoys invoking. He claims he is not a serious commentator, sycophants notwithstanding.
But, as Human Events Editor Jason Mattera wrote in his recent book Obama Zombies,
For all the talk that Stewart is just a funnyman, he gets pretty darn serious about Fox News and other intricacies of media coverage. It's a typical Zombie multiplier, as is the case every time you attack Fox News: it's street cred among liberal cognoscenti, and even as his Zombie-packed audience is too stupid to realize the schizophrenia of his positions.
Is he funny? Sure, I'll give him that. Even though conservatives bear the brunt of his jokes, I do find Stewart smart and sometimes entertaining… But Stewart's tiresome years of unrequited cheap shots tailored to the under-thirty crowd are paying off. He is a pop cultural icon, much like this president. It is cool to support him; that's the fad. But make no mistake about it: Stewart is a dedicated liberal foot soldier (that is, if liberals actually became "soldiers").
Transcript of Goldberg's appearance on "America Live":
KELLY: The war of word between Fox News media analyst Bernie Goldberg and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart. Here is a taste of the latest dust-up, which continued last night.
[Clips of the exchanges]
Well, Fox News analyst Bernie Goldberg is the author of "A Slobbering Love Affair" and you can also follow him at his website, BernardGoldberg.com. Alright Bernie, so it's back and forth again. It's kind of funny isn't it? Is it funny at all to you?
GOLDBERG: Well first of all, he's throwing spit balls at a battleship. But that aside, I had no problem whatsoever with what he did last night. No problem at all. None. Clearly on Monday night when I was on O'Reilly and I took him to task for his phoniness, if you will, clearly I got to him by saying he wasn't really as edgy as he thought, that he was a safe Jay Leno with a smaller audience, and that his audience is incredibly unsophisticated. And frankly, Megan, I'm flattered. He devoted half of his show last night to me.
GOLDBERG: I'm flattered by that.
KELLY: That's pretty big!
GOLDBERG: It is. And, listen, I've been on Jon Stewart's show twice and he was civil to me both times. He's a smart guy. I don't have a problem with any of that. What is interesting though, two things that I find interesting. One, this story on the web is getting more play than if some expert came on a TV show and talked about nuclear weapons in Iran or the federal budget deficit or [crosstalk].
KELLY: That's the kind of power you have, Bernie.
GOLDBERG: I would like to think so. But I think it may be because I live in the United States of entertainment. That's the reason for that. But the second thing, and this is kind of serious. You know I have this web site you mentioned BernardGoldberg.com and people come to it and write posts about my appearance on your show or Bill's show or the columns that I write. Some people agree, some disagree, some things are funny, some things are smart. But it's all civil until last night. That's when when John Stewart's most loyal fans -- not all of his fans, not most of his fans, but a core audience of his most loyal fans -- wrote the most vulgar, hateful, vile things on the web site. And I'm thinking, this is pathetic. I always thought the web, whatever else it is, all the good things that it is, it's a kind of sewer. And the sewer rats -- yes, I'm talking to Jon Stewart's most faithful -- the sewer rats came out with their crazy hateful comments.
KELLY: You are always going to have the wingnuts, though aren't you? I mean, you're going to have some people who watch Stewart who are wingnuts that will write you the nasty stuff. Then you're going to have people on the other side who are wingnuts write him the nasty stuff. At the end of the day does the back and forth between the two of you only wind up helping both of you?
GOLDBERG: Well, let me just answer the first part or try to address the first part. Do you think the people watching your show right now who might agree with me -- do you think for a second they are going to go to Jon Stewart's web site and tell him to go F himself? I don't think so.
KELLY: I hope not.
GOLDBERG: I don't think they will. But his loyal fans did that to me. Listen, if this is going to help anybody, it's going to help Jon Stewart more than it's going to help me. I don't need any help. I'm on with you and I'm on with Bill and he's on with a relatively small audience. If he can get some attention by this debate, he'll do it. But I don't have any interest in pursuing this and If he does, that's up to him. But I'm cool with it.
KELLY: What do you make of it, Bernie, because Jon Stewart, everybody knows who he is. He's very popular. The ratings for his show are, you know, not great when you compare them it to other big titans, but they're, you know, I guess pretty decent. Nonetheless, the whole country knows who he is. He maintains and talks about last night that he is a comedian and that he has no obligation to be fair and balanced and he never made any promises about being fair, and he's not a journalist, and he basically just likes to make fun of news people, which is what he does. Do you think his audience understands that, that he's make month attempt to be fair? That he's a comedian?
GOLDBERG: That's a great observation. Here's what I think. Jon stewart criticized me by name because he said I made generalizations about liberals. But then he says -- when he ignores generalizations by people he agrees with, like Frank Rich of the New York Times, or other liberal writers, he ignores their generalizations, which paint conservatives and Republicans and Fox News people as Nazis and whatever else, he says, "well, I never said I was fair." Well, come on, Jon, man up. Man the hell up, as a matter of fact. You can't criticize us at fox for generalizing about liberals and then you do the same thing or ignore it when it happens and then say I'm not a newsman. No. I'm not buying that. I'm not buying that for a second… I'm not complaining he's making fun of me. I'm saying you can't criticize me for generalizing then ignore it when it's your friend.
KELLY: You know what, he's making you a huge star, Bernie. Huge star. HUGE.
GOLDBERG: Spitballs at a battleship.