First he was a sexist. Now he’s a classist? The heat keeps coming on Jon Stewart.
When Jon Stewart was a humble TV comedian he was able to shrug off most criticism by pointing out that his lead-in was the puppet call-in show Crank Yankers. But now, with a Washington march on the Mall on the way, Stewart is becoming more and more of a political figure, and with that comes a target on his back.
Over at Tuned In, our colleague Jim Poniewozik explains the latest fracas:
CNN’s Rick Sanchez, a frequent target (like many anchors) of The Daily Show, went on comedian (and CNN contributor) Pete Dominick’s satellite radio show and said that Stewart was picking on him out of bigotry. [...]
The thing is, if you listen to the full conversation — which I recommend, because it’s actually quite interesting in full — Sanchez actually has some legitmate (if not necessarily correct) arguments to make. He begins sounding as though he’s saying that Stewart is biased in the sense that his show is colored by a specific Eastern, liberal, white-collar background and worldview. At first, he seems to say (not that I agree with this) that Stewart is simply an elitist, and that there’s a cultural gap between him and people from working-class backgrounds (like Sanchez), whom he looks down on.
Sanchez went on to imply that Stewart felt this way because he was Jewish and also stated that “everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart,” a comment that Jim takes strongly to task in his blog. (Sanchez later in the interview tried to walk back the assertions.)
Poniewozik has the Sanchez angle to this story very well-covered, but it’s worth examining what this means for Stewart. This is the second high-profile criticism of Stewart in recent months, and it’s becoming apparent that there is a theme emerging.
Though not identical to the Jezebel-women-in-comedy-dustup (which NewsFeed believes was sort of justified) both situations involve Stewart and The Daily Show becoming symbols for entire industries, the male-dominated comedy scene in one circumstance, the big-city mainstream-media in the other. It’s the flip side to the almost-universal admiration The Daily Show enjoys amongst a certain segment of the populace. When a show becomes about more than its joke, when it embodies its viewers’ ideals about the media, people are going to start expecting it to represent something larger than itself.