Friday, November 12, 2010

John Stewart at Rachel Maddow

Regarding last night's John Stewart interview, @WendyLefty had an insightful comment on Twitter that summarizes well the intent of today's post "Jon Stewart interview reminds me that TV isn't real, we have to be our own heroes".

Before you continue reading, let's get something straight, today's post will be filled with personal opinions and interpretations based on my untreated addiction to political issues and relentless information overload that I seek like a junkie in a street corner.

*If you want to see the interview, scroll to the bottom of the page*


On November 11, 2010 John Stewart had his first interview on the Rachel Maddow Show.  He was not yelling for government reform but quietly stating his wish and desire for news media to differentiate themselves from what he does for a living: A comedic satire meant to enlighten and laugh.

When Mr. Stewart referred to his recent Washington rally to "Restore Sanity" he made it clear that the rally had been exactly what he wanted it to be.  This has caused much consternation for those on the left who wanted it to be more, much more.

Talking heads on the left were disappointed by the wasted opportunity of over 250,000 people who could have been told to take action on one policy or another.  The wasted opportunity to demonize the Tea Party or the GOP. (heck! he could have done both!).  OMG!  He did not even tell people to go out and vote!.  He "failed"  to promote a progressive agenda and instead, he played excerpts of the bombardment Americans receive from both sides on any given day.

Ed Schultz took offense to being included in the segment's rally and so did Keith Olbermann. Their knee jerk reaction to being included among those they criticize on a daily basis for spreading hate and fear is understandable.  Their passions are directed towards helping real people get much needed and deserved health care, living wages, protecting social infrastructure that helps our seniors live out their lives with dignity while preserving their quality of life.

Most of us have helped raise funds to provide health clinics across the country and would never have raised a dime to help our neighbors in various states if Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz had not directed the light into the shadows of those suffering in silence.  Their intentions, passions and frustrations are well understood by the majority of the population and we are painfully aware that competing networks have never done anything to effectuate changes that will benefit the country or the population.

Keith Olbermann and Ed Schulz are passionate individuals that have chosen to direct their shows to serve the American people, they are fighting on our behalf, not on behalf of the corporations.  It is understandable why they had such a visceral reaction to being included in that segment because they felt that their honorable intentions and justified outraged had been watered down to a level they despise.

"The Rally to Restore Sanity" turned off the noise for 1 day.  That's all, just one day in which like-minded individuals decided to take a break from "noise" and share a beautiful day and a show together without pressure, hatred, or fear.

The rally to restore sanity was reminiscent of those tail-gate parties we had before the football games.  We sat around with a group of friends, we talked, we laughed, we barbecued, we ate, we had drinks and listened to the game on the radio because no one wanted to go into the stadium and break up the camaraderie.  We had, collectively, established our priority for the day without being shouted at or told what to do.


What was John Stewart saying to Rachel Maddow last night?

In a nut shell, he wanted the news to be accurate, stop bombarding people with nasty sound bites, stop repeating the same story over and over, until it becomes "The story".  Much like Balloon Boy which was broadcast on every channel without any facts.

Speaking of "Balloon Boy", that story had my heart on my throat until they said it was a hoax.  I immediately felt anger about being betrayed and my emotions manipulated by the irresponsible networks.  John Stewart made a good point by using this story as an example.  There were other stories going on, but laziness and tabloid sensationalism glued viewers to a non-story increasing the network's ratings exponentially, so why try harder?

When Michael Jackson died, the news should have been that Michael Jackson died.  They should have stated what they knew and moved on.  The historical accounts of Michael Jackson's carreer should have been reserved for those channels whose special niche is entertainment, not for CNN who failed to report any kind of news for about a week.

The same day that Michael Jackson died, so did Farrah Faucet.  She died of cancer and she became a blurb at the bottom of the screen that news organizations could not be bothered with.  There was also a bombing on Baghdad that killed 61 people. Peru's indigenous people claimed a victory over land developers. There were roadside bombs in Russia. Five people in the Sudan were sentenced to death for killing an American diplomat.

There were many other stories that day and through the ensuing week, but we heard nothing except speculation and relentless analysis of a story that was going nowhere.  Once again, we were assaulted by every network covering what was easy, not what was important.

This was John Stewart's point last night.  News should do news, not entertainment.  Networks should not cumulatively transition the same stories from one segment to the next with a different host.  There are more news than that, there is more to choose from, there is a lot that is not being said because one story snowballs into "the only story".   That, we all have to agree, this is noise.

John Stewart's rally to restore sanity gave all of us addicted junkies a much needed mental health break from the noise.  For having the courage to not politicize and let the rally be what is was meant to be; a day to relax in the company of new friends, I feel a debt of gratitude that should have been expressed a lot sooner.  I needed to detox and see friendly and likable people for a change.


Obama said "We are the one we have been waiting for" and frankly, he is right.  No one is going to fix the mess we are in but us.  We have to be our own Superman, our own Superwoman.   We have to do it together in the same manner we all agreed it was time to restore sanity.  As @WendyLefty stated, "... We have to be our own heroes".

PEACE to you all and thank you for indulging my addiction, see ya in "Da Twitter".


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