As befits these fractious times, reaction to President Obama’s appearance on The Daily Show last night has split along predictable lines. If you like Stewart and Obama, you generally liked it. If you’re part of the president's disenchanted base, you found Obama’s answers insufficiently enchanting. If you’re a hater, hey, big surprise, you hated it. (Unless you are Karl Rove, in which case you damned it with praise.)
But on his new Splitsider blog, editor Adam Frucci offers a keen observation about how the live audience responded to the interview, spotlighting something that could have ramifications for Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity.
…The trouble with having a live audience at what is supposed to be a relatively serious discussion is that it forces everything to be dumbed down to soundbites. Any subtlety is removed, as who cheers for a nuanced argument? A crowd wants to cheer for big proclamations, for sweeping statements.
And that’s the trouble with Stewart moving more into the realm of legitimate political pundits. If he wants to do a real interview with the leader of the free world, it sure undercuts his standing to have a live audience screaming and clapping when he makes a point.
Because really, an audience that dumbly cheers at mentions of liberal talking points and boos at mentions of the tea party or republican candidates represents everything in the current political media climate that Stewart normally rallies against. It represents a dumbed-down, over-hyped level of discourse, one that ignores the complex facts behind what’s going on in government in favor of the overly simplistic us vs. them, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, left vs. right dichotomy that cable news has embraced so strongly.
On Saturday, Stewart will again be playing to a crowd, potentially a very large one. He’s said it won’t be a political event, but he’ll still be serving up his brand of red meat to his fans. And so it seems fair to pose a couple of questions about this weekend's big to-do: Could the whoops of approval that are sure to emanate from the National Mall risk crowding out the message Stewart is hoping to send? The name isn’t meant to be taken literally—Stewart’s a satirist, after all—but can any rally, by definition, be all that sane?
Here's part one of Stewart's Obama interview. You can watch the whole episode on The Daily Show's website.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Barack Obama Pt. 1|