Well, comedian (and fake news anchor) Jon Stewart snapped tonight on CNN’s Crossfire. In some of the most riveting and bizarre television I have seen in ages, Stewart does the impossible — he makes the utterly fraudulent “debate show” Crossfire into a … well, debate show.
Instead of being Begala and Carlson’s “monkey” (as Stewart puts it), and telling jokes about the news, he calls them on their fakery. And it gets better from there, with Stewart calling Carlson a “dick” and is not really much nicer to Begala. Stewart’s peak comes with a startlingly genuine plea for CNN (and Crossfire in particular) to actually do news and analysis, but his plea falls on deaf ears:
STEWART: But the thing is that this — you’re doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.
BEGALA: We do, do…
STEWART: It’s not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.
CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you’re accusing us of partisan hackery?
CARLSON: You’ve got to be kidding me. He comes on and you…
STEWART: You’re on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?
[UPDATE 10/17/04] The Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes has a funny piece out on Stewart-Carlson-Begala Crossfire-contretemps. Best part is when she points out that Stewart’s “dick” comment would have cost CNN a bundle if it weren’t on cable.