Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jon Stewart slams Fox News for “comedian” excuse hypocrisy

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As the gusts of outrage continue to blow in the wake of the Limbaugh-Fluke Controversy, Right-wingers have predictably gone on the defense the only way they know how (other than lying and pretending nothing happened): by pointing the finger back at liberals and sneering, “Well, you have sexist celebrities, too!”, and then pretending that Leftists use the cloak of comedy to hide from backlash when they go too far – which, naturally, is the exact same defense many Right-wingers were quick to raise on Limbaugh’s behalf. The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart explains the approximately 5,000 problems with that sort of counter-argument in last night’s segment:

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My transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

JON STEWART: Over the past few weeks, there’s been something of a national hullabaloo – a countrywide brouhaha – an American – all over comments made by radio shock blob Rush Limbaugh.

RUSH LIMBAUGH [02/29/12]: Sandra Fluke said that it’s too expensive to have sex in law school without mandated insurance coverage. […] It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute.

STEWART: Sure! My God! That is the most noxious, hateful filth I’ve heard since earlier in his program, or the program before that one, or really, every show that he’s done for the past 30 years. But! This time, whether because the woman that he attacked is a private citizen, or because the words came in a context of “any woman who wishes contraception to be covered by their insurance plan is a moral reprobate”, picking Rush Limbaugh’s pocket so they can bang like horny bonobos – which is to say, bonobos (’cause let’s face facts, they’re all pretty …) – this time, Limbaugh’s daily noon-to-three afternoon mouth-dump caused outrage. (By the way, that is the title of his program. “My Daily Mouth-Dump”.)

It caused problems, creating a little bit of a dilemma for the Right. Do they repudiate Mr. Limbaugh, their lion, their champion, a man Republicans made an honorary member of Congress in 1994, a man they’ve chosen to honor with a bust in the Missouri State Capitol? This man:

REP. JACK KINGSTON (R-GA) [C-SPAN, 10/16/01]: Our friend, Rush Limbaugh, who is so involved leading the way on the conservative cause […]

STEWART: By the way, that is an official tribute to Rush Limbaugh on the House floor. I dunno if you noticed the date on that; it was October 2001. Yeah, mother[fucker]! Weeks after the September 11 attacks! Repudiate him? What?!

But, if they defend him, they risk the ire of all those people in the country whose heads have not yet been ditto’d. [Note: Reference to Limbaugh’s “dittoheads” nickname for his fans.] Although, there is a third choice.

STEVE DOOCY [03/09/12]: People on the Right were going, “Hey, wait a minute. There’s a guy on the Left, Bill Maher, who hosts that show on HBO – he says really reprehensible things about all sorts of people.”

SEAN HANNITY [03/12/12]: Maher called Gov. Palin the ‘c’-word and the ‘t’-word.

STEWART: Wha?! ‘C’ and ‘t’? No, no, no! She – Palin can’t be both Captain and Tennille! That’s not possible! It’s not – you can’t – [puts finger to ear] Ooh, really? Yeah, that’s pretty bad. I didn’t know. And [twat]. Yeah, no, that’s bad. All right.

So, I guess by bringing up Bill Maher, Fox is saying, “Huh? So we’re even, right? Offsetting penalties! Let’s just say we all get back to what really matters to Americans: whether Obama is a Sunni or a Shiite.” Um … but Fox wasn’t done.

ERIC BOLLING [03/08/12]: The liberals hide behind comedy and say, “Oh, I’m a comedian and I can say these hateful and vile things”.

MICHELLE MALKIN [03/08/12]: This is the humor card that they always play as their last resort, and it really is the ultimate sign of cowardice.

ANDREA TANTAROS [03/09/12]: If I said, “I’m not just a columnist, I’m also a comedian” […] put a clown nose on, clown shoes – would that be okay?

GRETCHEN CARLSON: They hide under the helmet of, “Oh, I’m a comedian, so I can get away with that.”

STEWART: Okay – first of all … comedians don’t wear helmets. I don’t know where you’re going to see comedy, but it is not a helmeted art form. I think you may have been watching The X Games. They wear helmets.

And second of all: “He’s a comedian!” was your whole defense on Limbaugh!

REPORTER: Limbaugh said Friday he was just being provocative, his stock and trade.

LIMBAUGH: Anybody doesn’t realize that we are illustrating absurdity here by being absurd, and that that is the trademark of this program.

RICK SANTORUM [03/02/12]: He’s being absurd, but that’s, you know, an entertainer can be absurd.

STEWART: Oooh! So, I see, you’re allowed to hide under an entertainer’s helmet.

Come on! See, here’s the other thing that I’m sick and tired of about this “comedian” thing. Nobody’s “hiding behind comedy”. And there are repercussions for what comedians say. When you’re doing it in a club, there are repercussions. Ask Michael Richards. Ask Tracy Morgan. If you do comedy on television, there are repercussions. Ask me!

FOX REPORTER [06/27/11]: Did Jon Stewart mock Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain because he’s a Black man?

STEWART: [sarcastically] Yes! That’s exactly why I mocked him! Because he’s a Black man!

And it’s not just news networks calling you racist that are the repercussions that comedians face at times. It’s the letters that they get, many of them handwritten, some of them containing white powder in the envelopes. You know, when I got into comedy, I didn’t think the white powder I’d be getting was anthrax!

By the way, for those of you at home: Don’t snort anthrax.

So, you see, feedback and repercussions come in many forms. So don’t pretend that by people saying that they’re comedians, they’re hiding. They’re not. They’re just telling you that the language of satire is slightly different than the language of newscasters. Language in general has repercussions, like when Ted Nugent faced a nationwide boycott for this:

TED NUGENT [08/24/07]: Obama, he’s a piece of [shit]. I told him to suck on my machine gun. […] And then I was in New York. I said, “Hey, Hillary, you might wanna ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless [bitch]!”

HANNITY: That was friend and frequent guest on the program, Ted Nugent.

STEWART: Oh, right! Ted Nugent didn’t get boycotted. That was the Dixie Chicks for saying onstage they were ashamed President Bush was from Texas. But that makes sense. The Nuge was actually sentenced for his diatribe by having to jam with ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ with Huck.

By the way, I’m not saying speech should be policed and censored and boycotted and that people don’t have the right to say crazy things, or to boycott things. I don’t believe that’s true. I think speech should be much freer. But here’s one thing I do believe: Fox, shut the [fuck] up how victimized you, and you alone, are. NOBODY CARES!

Admittedly, it would’ve been a bit nice if he could’ve spared a line or two really driving home his condemnation of Bill Maher’s own sexist language, but I suppose you can only fit so much in a 7-minute bit.

Nonetheless, the point remains the same: The fact that people on both sides of the ideological aisle say bad things doesn’t mean that pointing at the other group is a good way of deflecting criticism aimed at those in your own camp. Yes, Maher can be a bit of a sexist (and pseudoscientific) prick at times, and yes, too many liberals are quick to ignore it or even excuse it. Sycophants exist in every group, after all. But one key difference between him and people like Limbaugh and his Right-wing defenders is that he hasn’t built his entire fame and fortune on that sort of reprehensible schtick, whereas sexist vitriol and generalized hate-mongering is virtually all that Limbaugh knows.