What a difference a few days make. Jon Stewart goes from saying if Anthony Weiner is guilty he’s got to go to … this:
Jon Stewart has made no secret of the fact that he and Rep. Anthony Weiner have been friends for years and if you go back and look at “Daily Show” clips over the past week, you can see that Stewart seemed pretty sure his old friend was the victim of a hack. So I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to Stewart’s situation here. After all, yesterday he had to watch a good friend humiliate himself in front of the whole world with a tearful confession. That couldn’t have been easy. Furthermore, Stewart also watched Andrew Breitbart get vindicated in a way you only see in contrived movies. And so anyone expecting Jon Stewart to be Jon Stewart yesterday, I think, expected too much. Throughout all of this — though I’m no fan of Stewart’s, I do give him credit for straddling the story the best he possibly could. Believing in and showing loyalty to a friend is no vice and that he made that conflict a part of his coverage only made it better.
Where Stewart did fail, however, was in the way he attacked the media. David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun writes:
Let’s be honest about this: Stewart has behaved badly when it comes to Weiner the past few days. In fact, he’s looked kind of confused and pathetic at times, particularly in his wrongheaded criticism of the media.
The early locker-room jokes in the May 31 video don’t matter much. Nor do all the middle-school references to size. What matters to me is Stewart’s criticism of media coverage, particularly CNN’s, which he really goes after during the last 90 seconds or so of the video. Pay special attention to the way he singles out Dana Bash and John King, who I think did excellent work. …
Stewart was dead wrong in his criticism of the way the mainstream press was trying to get at the story that came to light yesterday. Bash and her producer were exemplary, in fact. But Stewart tried to ridicule their efforts.
I’d like to think that perhaps his friendship with the creepy Weiner clouded Stewart’s judgment, but he has been wrong in his media criticism before — and no one called him on it. My take on why he gets a free pass is that many media critics aren’t sure of their own values and standards. The one thing they know, though, is that they are scared to death of being ridiculed by Stewart.
Loyalty to a friend is one thing, pretending a sitting Congressman compromising himself is not a story and attacking those who disagreed is something else entirely. I also like Zurawik’s larger point about how the media fears Stewart, which creates a lack of accountability when he’s as wrong about something as he was with this. But it’s not just fear. Stewart sits at the head of the cool kid’s table and insecure losers in the MSM are desperate to be liked by him and offered a chair. The subtext of so much Stewart fawning is, “Please invite me on!” One of the most pathetic creatures on the planet is one desperate to be liked.
Stewart likely hopes this story is behind him now, but that’s doubtful.
Act two is just getting started.