Thursday, December 08, 2016

The Next Thing

Would the 2016 Presidential Election have turned out differently if Jon Stewart was still the host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show?" To hear Jon tell it, "We were the destroyers of men and creators of empires. I think that generally is satire's role and has always been: the rise and fall of civilization at our whim. I would have probably allowed Hillary to come a little closer in the Rust Belt, but I still think I would have given Michigan to Trump." He was joking. That was, and it would seem, continues to be his job. He isn't on television on a daily basis, not that he was back in the day, either. Monday through Thursday, barring the somewhat frequent week off for this or that observance, he became a presence that we relied upon. Twelve percent of Americans online said they got their news from The Daily Show. This was compared to the same number who relied on USAToday and just a little less than The Huffington Post. That's a lot of people. 
Especially when we remember that it is a show on a channel called "Comedy Central." There is little doubt that there is plenty of truth to be found in comedy, remembering the hackneyed adage: "It's funny because it's true." How true? Well, the number of times correspondents actually went out into the world to film their pieces was limited to the extreme. Most of the time, these were comedians standing in front of green screens just a few feet from the "anchor desk." They weren't reporters. They were making parody news. Most of the time it was incisive and well-written, but it was still commentary, not reportage. For many years, Jon Stewart himself poked fun at the idea that the public might be turning to his basic cable show that he insisted was for  "schnicks and giggles." 
How could  "schnicks and giggles" have changed the outcome of the election? It could be that one more provocative voice might have stirred the pot just a little. One or two states flipping this way or that could have -
Well -
It's not Jon Stewart's fault. When he left, he charged us all with keeping an eye out for things that were not as they seemed. “So whenever something’s been titled freedom, family, fairness, health, America: Take a good long sniff." Sounds like good advice. I don't know about where you're standing, but from here it smells a little like...the farm where Jon now resides. While we're waiting for the next jester to appear and steer us unerringly to do what is right, keep your mind, eyes, ears and nose open for what comes next. 

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