For those that still try to "practice" journalism and do so responsibly and ethically, this blog if for them.
Follow me on Twitter: DavidRNorton
July 20, 2009- The Daily Show doesn’t pretend to be high brow when it comes to comedy; in fact, host Jon Stewart opened the show by making a quip about his male anatomy. But while The Daily Show’s delivery might be the ilk of the court jester, the subject matter is no laughing matter. Stewart is on a crusade to keep journalism accountable—even when it means haraunging the most beloved of TV newsanchors as he did July 20th when he took NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Willams to task over the issue of “seducing” high profile subjects like disgraced S.C. Governor Mark Sanford with promises of essentially going easy on them in exclusive interviews.
Email after email after email, including one from Williams’s own NBC colleague David Gregory of Meet the Press showed that mainstream newsmen and women affiliated with the most reputable programs were shameless in their pursuit of the Sanford “get” to the point where it was obvious that they were sacrificing their independence for an exclusive.
While Williams clearly came on the show in a light hearted spirit and was ready to play the jokester—he’s hilariously funny and even under pressure went jab for jab with Stewart in the joke department—, when Stewart wouldn’t drop the issue, Williams, clearly irked, quipped, “What way do you want to go tonight, Jon?”, and the meeting, while civil, turned immediately adversarial. Stewart was so relentless, in fact, that it prompted a seasoned veteran like Williams known for his coolness to abruptly and awkwardly change the subject to Walter Cronkite, the “most trusted [news]man in America” who died last week at the age of 92. When Williams remarked, somberly, that Cronkite was who he aspired to be when he was young, Stewart chided, “So how does it feel to fall so short?” immediately bringing the conversation back to the shortfalls of modern journalism.
Williams eventually admitted that Cronkite was disapointed in the [sensationalist] trend toward which the current media was going, but defended major media policies to the end. But it begs the question: Williams and his colleagues at CBS, ABC, FOX, CNN and other serious news venues might be in the serious news business, but why is Stewart, in a number of publications and even some cartoons, the one continually inheriting Cronkite’s hallowed title as “The Most Trusted Man In America”?
Copyright David R. Norton 2009