Professor: Stewart, Colbert Could Have Taught Obama That Conservatives Are ‘Immune to the Force of Reason’

One year ago, a British newspaper published a list of President Obama’s ten favorite television shows (the top three, in reverse order: Breaking Bad, The Wire, and M*A*S*H). Not on the list was The Daily Show, on which Obama guested yet again this past Tuesday, but Penn State professor Sophia McClennen thinks that if Obama had been more of a TDS fan, he long ago would have realized how irrational his conservative opposition was.

In a Friday article for Salon, McClennen asserted that Stewart and Stephen Colbert “had insight into U.S. politics Obama never seemed to understand. ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ were one of the main sources of truth telling about U.S. politics and the nature of the Republican Party before and during the Obama presidency.” Those programs, wrote McClennen, illuminated “the twisted thinking, hubris, disdain for large segments of society, and closed-mindedness that forms the common, core mind-set of Fox viewers.”

From McClennen’s piece (bolding added):

Much is being made of President Obama’s candid interview with Jon Stewart on one of the final episodes of his “Daily Show” tenure. It’s the end of an era for Obama too: He appeared as a guest seven times over the years.

…[T]he last interview brings up one compelling question: What if Obama had actually watched the show more? Would he have learned more about the Republican mind?...

Stewart, like his colleague Stephen Colbert, had insight into U.S. politics Obama never seemed to understand. “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” were one of the main sources of truth telling about U.S. politics and the nature of the Republican Party before and during the Obama presidency

…Stewart and Colbert…encouraged critical thinking. They didn’t just report that Fox News lied: They gave viewers a glimpse into the twisted thinking, hubris, disdain for large segments of society, and closed-mindedness that forms the common, core mind-set of Fox viewers.

Long before Obama launched his presidential campaign, Colbert and Stewart…were aware that Fox News Republicans are immune to the force of reason…

…Party affiliation today is more like religious belief than reasoned civic interest. And this is increasingly true on both sides of the aisle…Democrats skirt issues, use talking points, and work the media too, a fact that Stewart brought up in his interview with Obama and that he previously raised with other Democratic guests of the show.

But it would be fair to say that in the era of the “Fox News effect” and Tea Party politics we are witnessing a mainstreaming of extreme conservative views that are regularly divorced from fact. Knowing and understanding that reality is key for any politician hoping to advance a progressive agenda…

The only glimpse Obama gave us that he understood was when he referenced the Stewart/Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity from 2010 during a small group discussion:

“Jon Stewart, you know, the host of ‘The Daily Show,’ apparently he’s going to host a rally called something like Americans in favor of a return to sanity, or something like that. And his point was 70 percent of the people – it doesn’t matter what political affiliation –70 percent of folks are just like you. They go about their business. They work hard every day. They’re looking after their families. They don’t go around calling people names. They don’t make stuff up.”

The problem, though, is that the 30 percent is really loud. And some of them have a disproportionate amount of power and influence in the U.S. system.

Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Salon Entertainment Media Cable Television Comedy Central Colbert Report Daily Show Jon Stewart Stephen Colbert Barack Obama


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