As cable news is populated by townhall craziness and the liberal pushback (more this morning directed at Arlen Specter), Jon Stewart has emerged as a source of thoughtful discussion. And that is coming from neoconservatives.
New York magazine points out that since November, Stewart has become a destination of sorts for William Kristol, John Bolton and Cliff May as well as Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee. They point out that Stewart has had more conservative pundits as guests than liberal ones.
Jacob Gershman writes, "Conservatives like Stewart because he's providing them a platform to
reach an audience that usually tunes them out. And they often find that
Stewart takes them more seriously than right-wing political hosts, who
are often just using them to validate their broad positions, do.
Stewart will poke fun, but he offers a good-faith debate on powder kegs
— torture, abortion, nuclear weapons, health care — that explode on
other networks. "Shepard Smith did the same discussion [on torture],"
says May. "He kept yelling me at me: 'This is where I get off the bus!
Not in my name!' He wasn't arguing with me. It was just assertions and
anger. That's not what Jon deals in."
He also adds, "At the end of the day, the spirited debate on "The Daily Show" doesn't leave people feeling queasy or upset — and that includes the guests with whom Stewart spars."
Yes, discussions are possible, even with the temptation to YouTube everything into the most contentious moments. Stewart's conversations don't garner the attention either of his comedy schtick and certainly not of the shouting elsewhere in the cable universe, but the fact that even conservatives are saying that they enjoy the discussion more than even Fox news anchors is telling, and maybe even a bit hopeful. Right now, the only hope is that the overheated rhetoric of the past few weeks will play itself out, and eventually cable news will just get too bored by claims of "death panels" and what is "un-American."
Or maybe that's just wishful thinking, especially with this still going on…