Jon Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire has really hit home. I already admired the man for his intelligent satire on the Daily Show, but his comments last week are right on. Today’s America is as polarized as ever. I know that is in part the nature of an election year, but it has gotten nasty. Neither side appears willing to work with the other and the attacks are getting more and more personal.
Yet, it is not just the parties that are responsible, they are playing the game that the media loves. The media is creating theater out of political partisanship. They are encouraging us to not only pick sides, but to hate the other side. Just today I was talking to another teacher who has braved putting a John Kerry sticker on her car. At least once a day someone flips her off or honks in anger. No doubt there are some Kerry supporters doing the same thing to cars with Bush stickers (though probably not in my part of town). As much as I want to say my side is not as bad as their side, it is (well, almost as bad, at least). It is frustrating. I consider myself a level headed individual capable of critical thought, but the extremists of the parties and the media are asking to me to simply buy their package, without question. Now I certainly buy one more than the other, but I hate that I have to demonize the other side. They aren’t the enemy; they are my in-laws, students, and neighbors.
When I was in college, I worked as the photography editor for the campus paper. It was very conservative. Despite having a fairly large activist population, the news, opinion, and feature sections rarely reflected these views. While I had an image of an unbiased free media, I saw the reality to be something completely different. Now media organizations gain audiences by their presentation of the information – just look at Fox and CBS.
As Jon Stewart claims, they are hurting us, dividing us. They let the presidential candidates manipulate the facts, talk around the questions, and use generalities when specifics are needed.
If only I could break my addiction to current events. I’ll get off my soapbox now. Maybe I’ll go buy Jon Stewart’s book.
Here is a quicktime of his first show since the Crossfire incident.