This week, he sat down with Chris Wallace of Fox News and promptly made an ass of himself. The left cheered, as they are apt to do when they spot the Smirking Smarm-smith, but the truth is that without his trusty audience to cheer his every move, Stewart looked like what he was: a bully, a manipulator, and an intellectually dishonest partisan hack.
His hackery began when he refused to call The New York Times a "liberal organization." While standing by his labeling of Fox News as "a relentlessly agenda-drive, 24-hour news opinion propaganda delivery system," he refused to say the same of ABC, CBS, NBC and The Washington Post. Instead, he said their bias "is toward sensationalism and laziness. I wouldn't say it's toward a liberal agenda." This is plainly idiocy. All news organizations of any stripe are biased toward sensationalism because it sells and laziness because it is cheap. But that doesn't preclude them from playing for a political team, as the mainstream media clearly does.
Wallace then called Stewart on his own political bias. Stewart is a liberal. That's no shock. When I interviewed Doug Herzog, president of MTV Networks, for my book, "Primetime Propaganda," he said that Stewart was obviously a leftist. "I think there is no discussion where Jon's heart lies," Herzog told me. "I think he wears it on his sleeve to a certain degree." In fact, Stewart's lackeys refuse to have conservative pundits on his show, as they told my friend, comedian Steven Crowder.
But Stewart insisted that his political viewpoint was irrelevant because he was a comedian. "I'm a comedian first," he told Wallace. "My comedy is informed by an ideological background. There's no question about that. The thing ... that in some respect conservative activists will never understand is that Hollywood, yes, they're liberal. But that's not their primary motivating force. I'm not an activist. I'm a comedian."
But, of course, Stewart can be and is both. He uses his comedy to propagandize. That's not against the law and not immoral, but it is a betrayal of his self-proclaimed primary motivating force: to be funny. True comedy attacks the targets at hand. It does not pick and choose based on political affiliation. Stewart does, and that's why the quality of his comedy has declined dramatically since Bush's re-election.
Stewart is a mass of contradictions. He admits that he wants his voice heard, and says, "That's why I got into comedy." But in the same sentence, he denies that he is an ideologically partisan activist. He believes he should speak for good media practice, but refuses to practice it because he can always put on his Johnny Carson hat.
This, unfortunately, is endemic of Hollywood. The same folks Stewart believes are unbiased with regard to their news agenda -- people like Les Moonves at CBS -- have actually considered using Stewart as their nightly news anchor. Hollywood entertainment folks pretend that they are not politically motivated for public consumption, but in private, they will admit that they enjoy using their entertainment to promote their own political point of view. Stewart's boss, Herzog -- an executive who is charged with raising stockholder value -- says that he believes that "through the medium of television, we try to make the world a slightly better place." By "better," Herzog means leftist. So does Stewart.
Stewart is a liar because he pretends that he cannot be both a comedian and a political propagandist. He can be both, because Hollywood is full of people who are both. There is no question that his audience of trained seals see him for what he is: a master of liberal hackery, unwilling to attack President Obama harshly or to call out journalistic malfeasance from the left. That is why when he once dared to make a joke about President Obama, the audience didn't laugh. "You know, you're allowed to laugh at him," a grumpy Stewart chided. How would they know that? After all, Stewart hasn't trained them to laugh at everyone -- he's trained them to laugh at his political enemies.
At the end of his interview with Wallace, Stewart claimed that "there is not a designed ideological agenda on my part to affect partisan change." It may not be designed, but it is an agenda. And Stewart is an expert at pushing it while pretending to be an honest comedian rather than a comedic propagandist.