October 31, 2004

Jon Stewart, C-SPAN, and the end of television as we know it?

Now I know why there are so many Daily Show reruns. Because Jon Stewart and company are spending so much of their time on C-SPAN. And you thought C-SPAN was for nerds. I tell you, it is the best television on television. You just have to give it a chance.

In case you missed it, Stewart, Corddry, Helms, and two show producer/writers appeared in a wild, uneven, sometimes funny, sometimes pitifully unfunny program in New York on October 20th which was aired tonight (and is being aired again on C-SPAN on November 1st at 4:00pm Eastern, 1:00pm Pacific. Somebody TiVo it!!!). Here's C-SPAN's description page of the event.

The panelists took turns reading from their book, America: The Book. It's amazing how much coverage this book gets on C-SPAN. But these guys are not normal book authors, and they're not there to push the book. They're there to destroy TV as we know it.

I believe that Stewart and company are trying to revolutionize television by tearing down its conventional standards and practices. First, dress inappropriately, like a slacker. Stewart's starting to dress like Bill Murray in the early scenes of Stripes. Second, resort to language that's simply not said on television, certainly not C-SPAN. Speak as many four-letter words as possible, so the television audience members marvel in the fact that there are no bleeps like there are on The Daily Show, only occasional and entirely useless on-screen warnings that this program contains bad language. Duh!

Prediction: Stewart and company are going to get C-SPAN in big trouble, and somebody's going to try to fine or indict C-SPAN for breaking FCC rules. You watch: some congressman is going to take this one for a ride, and sick the FCC on them but good.

At one point, while reading a section of his book America: The Book, Stewart paused and admitted he was bored. It was about then that the whole program began to collapse, the final blow occurring during the Q&A when a woman from the audience went on and on with a rambling rant about the Green Party, refusing to hand over the microphone until it was forcibly taken from her (and then, still ranting more while Stewart cringed at the podium).

I can't say this was excellent television. It's fascinating to watch not because it was good, but because it was on at all. Are we witnessing the television revolution being televised, or are we witnessing Jon Stewart and company jumping the shark? We'll see soon enough. Stay tuned.

UPDATE -- So, numerous readers have written to me to inform me of the foolishness of my ways: a) that the comments function was still broken (D'oh!), b) that Jon Stewart has been dressing like Bill Murray in Stripes for years, and c) that C-SPAN, since it's on cable, doesn't fall under the same FCC rules as broadcast television. As Jon Stewart might say, Damn you, cable television!

Posted by brian at October 31, 2004 01:38 AM


You had better get used to it.
The next generation Cannot stand the sensationalism
and lies of other news programs and would rather watch the Farce of John Stewart who proves that journalism it such bull plop these days!

Posted by: Marti at October 31, 2004 10:47 AM

How many of the boing boing editor's dicks did you have to suck to get them to link to your baseless argument?

Posted by: pe-pee at October 31, 2004 12:07 PM

As of right now, the FCC still has no jurisdiction in the world of cable, but congratulations for posting words on the internet anyways. Very well punctuated.

Posted by: Steve Balmerton at October 31, 2004 12:22 PM

I wish boingboing still had comments so I could tell them how much they sucked publicly. All the emails i send seem to fall on deaf ears. And if i could stab cory and xeni over the internets, they'd be long dead.

If jon stewart destroys television, so be it. No TV would be better than most TV, as it stands today.


Posted by: smashy at October 31, 2004 12:38 PM

Erm... why the heck don't people know that you're allowed to 1) swear, 2) show nudity, 3) show graphic violence on cable television? It's not in the FCC's jurisdiction, as Steve pointed out. I've seen many make this mistake, even people who work in the business! Bill O'Reilly said he wasn't going to say a certain word, lest the FCC fine him. I guess if the people who work in the business don't know it, we can't expect the public at large to know it.

Posted by: Mark J at October 31, 2004 12:43 PM

I think Xeni's hair fucking rocks.

smashy, you totally missed the point.. crazy ass.

Posted by: Cowicide at October 31, 2004 02:24 PM

I recorded the appearance this morning, and it is very funny. A Divx torrent for your viewing pleasure:


Posted by: Mike G at October 31, 2004 03:36 PM

I recorded the appearance this morning, and it is very funny. A Divx torrent for your viewing pleasure:


Posted by: Mike G at October 31, 2004 03:37 PM

Please chill, people. This is not the place to complain about BoingBoing. If you have a constructive comment to make that is on-topic, fine. Otherwise, please go somewhere else. Thank you.

Posted by: Brian at October 31, 2004 04:41 PM

umm... you do realize that jon stewart didn't just appear one day out of the blue on the daily show, right? he was a standup comedian, later taking over arsenio hall's failed late night talk show. if you saw how he dressed back in those days (jeans, tshirt, hat, sometimes a sweater or a leather jacket, typical college student look), i don't think you would be shocked in any way as to how he dresses today...

Posted by: darthstupid at October 31, 2004 09:07 PM

I believe Mr. Stewart claimed that the _audience_ was getting bored -- after reading the room using his comedian-honed audience-gauging superpower -- and thus skipped over some of the text. Which is, actually, rather hit or miss, having finished it just before coincidenta||y coming across The Young Lions (Rarrrrr!) presentation of said Stewart & Co not twenty minutes after the cable guy finished installing the whole mess (no offer of "illegal" cable, though. Was I supposed to tip him?).

In closing, I'd like to say that no matter who wins on November 2nd, we all lose. Thank you.

PS: "Your comment could not be submitted due to questionable content: denta|." WTF?

Posted by: Tim "Pudgeface" Russert at October 31, 2004 10:35 PM

i don't want to go on a rant here but.... smashy... you're an idiot, you are one of those people who go to w4prez.com and complain about how that guy is a stupid conservative and send him an appropriately idiotic email. now for the record, xeni has a unique look and i happen to like it. no matter if somebody took a baseball bat to her she would still be more attractive because she is cooler than most of the opposite sex (for me, the veeemen). secondly, brian, there is probably no better way to get people to comment off-topic than saying "stick to the topic" especially when you are on a website called "brainstorms.com" and following a gaggle of boingboingers. Mr. Russert, i'm convinced that you are the actual meet the press guy and use the pudge face thing as a mascarade... am i right?

so to get back on topic here. complaining about someone trying to change a news/entertainment media warped by partisan ownership and ratings wars is like b!tching at the firefighter trying to save your house. is that a fair analogy? nope. jon stewart looks horrible in red and would never wake up in the night to fight anything but his baby's crying. sooo.... you should do a little research into your subject (the FCC rules thing is just stupid of you) and the history of the bashee (jon stewart is a good guy).

Posted by: jerzy at November 1, 2004 02:07 AM

Lay off the crack, jerzy.

Posted by: blogtard at November 1, 2004 03:20 AM



Posted by: SMASHY at November 1, 2004 07:01 AM

Maybe you should not submit to boing boing again?

Posted by: JL at November 1, 2004 10:47 AM

I don't understand how C-Span would get in trouble for this. They have rebroadcast thousands upon thousands of swear words and other "inappropriate" language in their live coverage of the Senate and House of Representatives; they've even covered FCC hearings when the previous director of the FCC used "inappropriate" language. They aired the current President of the United States giving the camera the middle-finger gesture and smiling when he thought the camera was off. Why would a couple of pundits get them in trouble?

Posted by: Rodney at November 1, 2004 11:36 AM

Even though the Daily Show is "fake news", it's more real than the constant stream of fear and manipulative drivel that the networks have to dish out. I love that Jon Stewart is bringing "slackers" to awareness. The only warning bell that's going off in my head is that Jon is getting too serious and is in danger of becoming seriously boring. A deadly sin in TVland.

Posted by: Elliot Feldman at November 1, 2004 12:39 PM

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