Jon Stewart of the Daily Show was interviewed for about an hour by Rachel Maddow regarding his perception in the media, The Rally to Restore Sanity, media biases, and politics.

Why is one of our most insightful social commentators a comedian?

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Best quotes from the interview

RM: “Why did you want to talk to me?”

JS: “After the rally…whenever you go out there you can only control your intention, you can’t control its perception or how people receive it.”

JS: “and to see that with the Capitol Building, which normally in our studio is a picture because we are fake.”

We’d done 12 years of the show, I’d earned 10 minutes of just rank sincerity.

I think the point of the rally was, this is as far as I can go… a satirist is… I can always criticize but I can’t actually do anything… we have no responsibility. [David’s note: really good segment, listen to the whole part]

I feel more of a kinship with Jerry Seinfeld than what you guys do or what CNN does or what NBC does. He’s able to comedically articulate an intangible for people.

Because we are parodying a news organization… but the process the material goes through is not a news process, it’s a [comedic process.]

We’re commenting on the news comedically.

Both sides have their way of shutting down debate and the news networks have allowed these two sides to become the fight in the country. And I think the fight in the country is corruption versus not corruption, extremist versus regular.

again we have to define our terms… we were talking about tone there not content.

We have a tendency to grant amnesty to people we agree with and to overly demonize people we dont.

It all comes from the perspective of defending your guy or your turf. What I’m saying is, let’s stop defending teammates and get an organization and tenacity and the kind of heart and the kind of intelligence… and look at it from a slightly different perspective, which is not we’re saying they’re crazy, but corruption is everywhere. It’s on the left, its on the right.

But Fox is not partisan either, they’re really not.
They are ideological but not partisan.

The problem with the 24 hour news cycle is that it’s built for a very particular thing: 9/11. Other than that there really isn’t 24 hours of stuff to talk about. The problem is, how do you keep people watching it? OJ isn’t going to kill someone everyday, so that’s gone. So what do you have to do? You have to elevate the passion of everything else that happens that might even be somewhat mundane and elevate to the extent that this is breaking news.

I think the conflict to develop a news network would be corruption and non-corruption.

I don’t care where it comes from; if it’s right, it’s right.

Let’s try and fight on the most precise and proportional terms we can.

In my life I try to get on the field and help people, just not through the show.

Summary

Comedy has to contain some element of truth or it isn’t funny. There may be a joke about the Polish invention of a submarine with a screen door, but there isn’t one about the MIT PhD Physicist with the same invention.

Jon’s whole point is that news is moving towards him as a social critic / satirist. He believes intelligent people should be able to discuss ideas without quickly jumping into polarizing argument that instantly kills quality discussion and debate.