For many years, Walter Cronkite was the “most trusted newscaster” in the USA. Now, with the advent of less than totally impartial media outlets like Rupe’s Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse), can anyone even approach the goal of being the “most trusted”? Well, Time magazine has run a poll, and they say that the “most trusted newscaster” in the USA is Jon Stewart.
Er, hang on a minute. Would that be the same Jon Stewart who fronts Comedy Central’s Daily Show? Well, yes it would. And Rupe’s shock troops over at Fox News don’t like it at all: their man Bill O’Reilly has been laying in to Stewart with characteristic unpleasantness. Why? Stewart’s been making fun of Fox News, and why not? Hell, it’s a target so big and tempting, it’s hard to resist, and impossible to miss.
As Steve Young from the Philadelphia Enquirer has pointed out, Stewart is playing it for laughs, but is also a superb practitioner in the art of satire. And in this he is only doing in modern day USA what David Frost did in 1960s UK: programmes like TW3 and the Frost Report combined cutting edge humour with occasional deadly insight, typified by the exposure of crooked businessman Emil Savundra.
Frost went on to be trusted enough to gain access to the by then disgraced Richard Nixon, and became a more “serious” journalist. He is still at work, and still trusted and respected both by the political class and their constituents. Will this be the future for Jon Stewart? Who knows. Is he good enough?
I reckon he is.