On Tuesday night I was bestowed the honor of being ridiculed on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. The segment in which I was featured had Mr. Stewart mocking those of us who dare criticize the new president. In the era of Obama, mainstream American political humor is now officially on the defensive.
Stewart lumped me with Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican — a cross section of people you might expect to be critical of an administration implementing very liberal policies in a very short time.
The “joke” was that these right-wing zealots weren’t giving the new president enough time, that the previous president did worse things, and that I, in particular, was ridiculous for blaming the president for “St. Patrick’s Day” becoming “Potato Day” at my kids’ public school. (Yes, the name change took place. No, I did not blame President Obama — specifically.)
As is his style, Mr. Stewart took wildly out of context my clip from Fox News’ “Hannity” in which Sean and I discussed the Obama administration’s decision to call the “war on terror” an “overseas contingency operation,” and “terrorism” a “man-caused disaster.” As an aside during that discussion, I pointed out that leftist bureaucrats in Los Angeles, eager to rip the religious context out of a widely celebrated holiday, opted instead to offend an entire ethnic group.
“Potato Day!” Take that, pasty white limey oppressor! And if you pinch me for not wearing green, I’ll sue you for sexual harassment.
Orwellian language shifts are usually ripe material for true comedians. But Mr. Stewart ripped me for talking about the road to pure-form political correctness that the new president has set us on.
Jonathan and his amazing technicolor dream-teleprompter (yes, he has one too) has for 10 years used sophisticated character assassination to slyly annihilate the political enemies of the Democratic Party.
The show’s multitude of liberal, Ivy-League-educated writers — another Obama echo — feed the mildly successful former stand-up comedian irony-laden words that he offers up with his signature goofy facial expressions. And Jon Stewart has a studio audience of pliant seals commanded and trained to flap their fins at every smirk or sarcastic joke.
Conservatives, who are cosmically slow on the pop-culture uptake, are just now beginning to understand the disastrous impact of Mr. Stewart’s decade-long barrage of unanswered snipes, especially among the college-aged crowd. The ironic gripes have lowered Republicans into an even-less-attractive caricature than schlockmeister Michael Moore was able to deliver.
If the targets were switched and Democrats had the same five-day-a-week bull’s-eye placed on their heads, no one doubts that financier George Soros and Media Matters would wage a well-funded rampage to destroy Mr. Stewart and his scribes. Nancy Pelosi would be demanding a comedy Fairness Doctrine. And “The Daily Show” and its partner in crime “The Colbert Report” would be taken off the air within 30 days of electoral primaries and within 60 days of general elections to comply with McCain-Feingold.
Instead, those “Stewart/Colbert ‘08” bumper stickers are hard to miss on college-town streets and in the parking lot of your local Whole Foods. That is why, after only a single presidential election went the left’s way, Blue State liberals — and the Huffington Post’s Steven Weber, co-star of “Wings” — are now claiming the death of the GOP.
In LA, DC, NYC and TV, it sure feels that way.
What media-savvy Democrats perfectly understand is that Viacom’s comedy darlings do a better job conveying liberal talking points than Harry Reid, Mrs. Pelosi, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews combined. And Republicans aren’t organized enough to play defense and not smart enough to go on the offense like the left does against Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Mr. Hannity, et al.
So, unchastened, Mr. Stewart has decided to take his partisanship to new heights. Most notably, he is working harder than ever to ensure that elected Democrats escape scrutiny for the financial crisis.
That is why Mr. Stewart scapegoated CNBC’s Jim Cramer and turned his supposed comedy show into a pious drubbing of a man at best peripheral to the origins of the current economic instability. The New York Post reported that Mr. Stewart was coached on the topic by his brother, Larry Leibowitz (yes, that is Jon Stewart’s real last name), who is the type of high-flying Wall Street creature his brother broadly intended to deride.
But Mr. Stewart is now actively fighting for an administration and a party he believes in. He is treading lightly with Barney Frank. Chris Dodd may become a fall guy, but only if it serves the master’s needs. And the Republicans are public enemy number one.
Mr. Stewart’s defining moment — and a media low point — was when he went on CNN’s “Crossfire” in 2004 and honed in on Tucker Carlson for attack. Mr. Carlson is many things, but he is not a “hack.” He is also one the GOP’s most palatable voices to liberal ears. He is always affable and gives the other side a chance to have a say.
The truth behind Mr. Stewart’s attack on Mr. Carlson: It wasn’t about the crassness of cable TV dialogue — it was the fact that liberals actually have to share airtime with conservatives. And Mr. Stewart can’t stand anyone having a different opinion than his own. He’s as fearful of an opposing voice as he is his own last name.
“The Daily Show” is part and parcel of an industry hardwired, with only a few notable exceptions, to destroy Republicans.
Kal Penn — best-known as the stoner in the “Harold and Kumar” comedy franchise — is taking a job in the White House Office of Public Liaison. He deserves praise for being up front about his allegiance to the president and for leaving the entertainment business for a while to serve him.
Anyone with the slightest clue and the vaguest sense of reality knows that Mr. Stewart is likewise carrying presidential water, but does so slyly, less honestly and under the comedian’s cloak of having no sacred cows.
If only that were the case.
• Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site www.breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon — the Case Against Celebrity.”