Apparently this program NOW has been on for 18 months or so, but this is the first I’ve heard of it. Bill Moyers interviews Jon Stewart, and Jon is, as ever, insightful and interesting. Bill asks him about the media helping people to understand politics, especially the Bush administration’s war and terrorism stuff, and Jon gives this reply:
BILL MOYERS: And what is the media doing to help us sort us out?
JON STEWART: Oh. they’re not. Yeah, no. That’s– yeah, they sat this one out. Yeah, they’re not– they’re not getting involved. It’s very tiring. And they have weather reports to give. Nah, the media is not interested in– fairness. The media is– look politicians have figured out the media. Let’s face facts. When– when television first appeared it proved itself to be a vital insight into the process.
Nixon– you mentioned the Nixon-Kennedy debates. It was– At that point, politicians didn’t know how to handle the media. So Nixon could say, I look fine. I don’t need make-up. These lights won’t make me sweat. I’m sure I’ll come off as calm and collected and eloquent.
And then, as he was sweating and looked you know maniacal, he ended up losing. Well, at this point– so at that point television was ahead of the game. Politicians have caught up. They understand that 24-hour news networks? They don’t have time for journalism. They only have time for reporting. They only have time to be handed things and go, this is what I’ve just been handed by the administration. And they read it.
So now that the administration knows that, and they’re very disciplined, they can manipulate what goes on the air and what sets the agenda. And– and that’s what they do.