Publication Details

Boler, M. & Turpin, E. (2008). The Daily Show and Crossfire: satire and sincerity as truth to power. In M. Boler (Eds.), Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times (pp. 383-404). Cambridge, United States: MIT Press. http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/digital-media-and-democracy


For those invested in the ideal that a news press should serve the democratic function of informing its citizenry, Jon Stewart's nightly-broadcast news parody The Daily Show (TDS) offers a touchstone of sanity. The glimpse of a reality more in tune with the experience of many Americans stands in sharp contrast to the otherwise surreal media coverage by 'mainstream' media sources (MSM).1 Since 9/11, corporate media coverage ranges from shockingly uncritical perspectives even in the so-called liberal media, to ultraconservative propaganda such as Fox news, to purveyors of Bush administration press briefi ngs. Jon Stewart's "court-jester" critiques not only offer a much-needed antidote, but they also represent a niche of media convergence for news content as well as circulation. In 2004, the top-cited blogosphere media story (www.BlogPulse, Year in Review) was the appearance of Jon Stewart on CNN's Crossfi re talk show. Over 600,000 people watched the television broadcast and millions watched the online streaming of Jon Stewart skewering the talk show hosts for debasing journalism in the name of political debate. Refusing to be the hosts' funny "monkey," Stewart instead appealed for "civilized discourse," a "responsibility to public discourse," and to "stop hurting America" with partisan hackery and theater that masquerades as news on CNN. Stewart drops his smirking satire and instead makes a heartfelt, pleading appeal for media's civic responsibility. Overnight, this public cry spread through the blogosphere like wildfire.