Despite their ideological differences, the personalities that drive the success of The Daily Show and Fox News apparently respect–even admire–each others ability to entertain and engage viewers. That’s one of the revealing angles that Chris Smith features in this week’s Jon Stewart cover story at New York magazine.
Here’s what Smith reports on Glenn Beck’s opinion of The Daily Show:
Glenn Beck is an even more frequent Daily Show presence—as a target. The Fox News star takes a different view—surprise, surprise—praising Stewart while dismissing him as mere entertainment. Even as he’s built an enviable political base, Beck knows he’s a showman, and he thinks that makes Stewart a kind of brother.
“Jon Stewart is very funny, and if I were in his position, I’d be doing a lot of the same things. In fact, a lot of the jokes I’ve heard before, either from my staff or myself,” Beck says by e-mail. “He takes things out of context (no worse than most of the other mainstream media) and is more interested in being funny than trying to actually understand the key messages in [my] show … But I don’t think he’s looking for a Pulitzer … People like Jon, his ratings are good. Good for him, keep doing what he’s doing. People seem to like watching my show as well, and hopefully that continues for both of us for a very long time.”
Later in the article, Jon Stewart in discussing what he finds to be the trouble with much of mainstream journalism, draws an admiring comparison to Fox News:
The thing that shocked me the most when I first met reporters was the people who would step aside and say, ‘Boy, I wish I could say what you’re saying.’ You have a show! You are a network anchor! Whaddya mean you can’t say it?” Stewart says.
“It’s one reason I admire Fox. They’re great broadcasters. Everything is pointed, purposeful. You follow story lines, you fall in love with characters: ‘Oh, that’s the woman who’s very afraid of Black Panthers! I can’t wait to see what happens next. Oh, look, it’s the ex-alcoholic man who believes that Woodrow Wilson continues to wreak havoc on this country! This is exciting!’
Even the Fox morning show, the way they’re able to present propaganda as though it’s merely innocent thoughts occurring to them: ‘What is this “czar”? I’m Googling, and you know what’s interesting about a czar? It’s a Russian oligarch! Don’t you think it’s weird that Obama has Russian oligarchs, and he’s a socialist?’ Whereas MSNBC will trace the word and say, ‘If you don’t understand that, you’re an idiot!’ The mistake they make is that somehow facts are more important than feelings.”