Jon Stewart’s Penchant for False Left/Right Equivalency Conflates Passion with Propaganda

John Stewart's Penchant for False Left/Right Equivalency Conflates Passion with Propaganda Image

It’s a tragedy that two comedy programs, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, are the closest thing today that America has to a 4th estate. That being said, as much as I appreciate the great work Stewart and Colbert do, I couldn’t help but be struck that the only thing the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” really seemed to represent was the notion that if you are passionate about ANYTHING, you must be a radical.

Stewart’s penchant for pushing the FALSE left/right equivalency meme is nothing new for him, but is a distortion of American politics – and for all the joking – no laughing matter.

Stewart had earlier called the rally a “Million Moderate March,” and drew a false equivalence between right-wing propagandists, and the people on the left who rightly rail against them.
Glenn Greenwald wrote, “The purpose, he said, is to counter what he called a minority of 15 percent or 20 percent of the country that has dominated the national political discussion with extreme rhetoric.

He tarred both parties with that charge, mentioning both the attacks on the right against President Obama for being everything from a socialist to un-American and on the left against former President Bush for being a war criminal.”

But what if the inconvenient truth is that President Obama is NOT a Socialist (or un-American for that matter) whereas former President Bush IS a WAR CRIMINAL?

The truth is, no evidence exists in reality-based community to support the “Obama is a Socialist” canard but plenty of evidence in this reality that would ally him with the “New” (Corporate) DLC Democrats firmly committed to so-called “free-market” policies that, in his own words, “resist protectionism” whereas Bush and Cheney have BOTH admitted war crimes – sanctioning policies outlawed by the Geneva Conventions – as well as numerous other violations that would have those born in the unprivileged class in the dock at the Hague.

Stewart correlating a right-wing lie with something the majority of the world knows to be true makes the equivalency not just FALSE, but dangerous – and plays into the hands of the powerful entities infesting the halls of power who have a vested interest in keeping the American People wedded to these distortions so as to allow the well-connected criminals to continue to walk free.

The main offender in the rally was the video montage of the media that intercut images of Fox News/Glenn Beck, etc… with MSNBC/Olbermann/Schultz.

This may be Stewart’s way of appealing to and appeasing “average Joe” right-wingers so they don’t feel as if they are entirely attacked by Stewart’s own rhetoric, but that tactic is self-serving, and not at all good for America.

The fact is, the rank and file Right don’t need appeasing, they need educating. They’ve been systematically misinformed to the point where they cry “liberals are bad” as they collect their Social Security checks, illustrating the triumph of right-wing propaganda over the 4th Estate.  If this situation doesn’t call for passion, backbone and a sense of urgency from the left, I don’t know what does.

The last 30 years have been abysmal for the working people of America and right-wing policies ARE deserving of blame! Negating the voices on the left that seek to CORRECTLY inform them by making them equal to the voices that seek to MISLEAD them, is just as harmful to the People as Stewart accused the silver-spooned-bowtie-boy Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala of being in his 2004 Crossfire appearance.

Just look at the last 100 years to see the fruits of Republican labors. Right wing policies serve only to create a wide economic gap between the people and the elite whom the Republican Party represent. Even David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, that the GOP DESTROYED U.S. economy. Strong words? Yes. This situation deserves nothing less. Liberals can’t afford to sit back quietly and politely while Cons have us up against the ropes, ready to permanently put the middle class down for the count.

To report the truth about the Republican-sponsored decline of the middle class with a sense of urgency and passion is not the same as actually lying to the middle class to get them to support their own demise.

Conflating Olbermann’s or Shultz’s fiery passion with Glenn Beck’s demagoguery does a disservice to the American People.

Sorry, Stewart. Exposing the right wing class war is NOT the same as right-wingers LYING, whipping up fear and appealing to the worst aspects of the human condition. It’s JUST NOT. Keith Olbermann is NOT Glenn Beck just as Alan Grayson (another lefty who made an appearance in Stewart’s montage) IS NOT some nut who is crazy because he said, “Republicans want you to die quickly.”

If you put Grayson’s statement IN CONTEXT, you will see that Grayson was making a POINT about the lack of action and obstructionist tactics Republicans employ to ensure that Americans CONTINUE to DIE and go bankrupt when they get sick. That kind of unconscionable system CALLS FOR STRONG LANGUAGE. This is the reality facing the American People today and it’s about time people stand up with a spine against the powerful forces of the big moneyed interests turning the government “into an appendage of their own affairs”, as FDR said.

The IRONY is that Grayson is on the FRONT LINES displaying the courage Stewart constantly MOCKS Democrats for not having. Being a PASSIONATE lefty IS NOT the same as being a lying corporate shill trying to DECEIVE people into supporting the party turning the middle class into compliant serfs.

If FDR were alive today, perhaps we could ask him about the effectiveness of politely pleading with Economic Royalists to play nice with the Plebs… pretty please… with sugar on it… please be nice and let us have our middle class again.

Perhaps Stewart would have been offended at FDR when he took the Economic Royalist elite to the metaphorical woodshed and implemented the New Deal policies that CREATED the Middle Class – and stood up to their inflammatory charges of “Socialist”, “Communist”, “anti-American”, by plainly and PASSIONATLY telling the America People what they were up against.

“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I WELCOME THEIR HATRED!

Such strong LANGUAGE! Couldn’t he have “toned it down?” Perhaps Stewart could intercut this speech with some of the Republican attacks on FDR in which they called him as Communist… you know… to be a good moderate… and by doing so, give the veneer of legitimacy to arguments that are made up of whole cloth.

I hope the rally serves it’s purpose and gets young people out to vote. Tragically, I believe that it has also done damage to the truth…. which as we all know… has a well-documented liberal bias.


7 Responses to “Jon Stewart’s Penchant for False Left/Right Equivalency Conflates Passion with Propaganda”

  • I wholeheartedly agree with you. I wrote a blog about this on Democratic Underground: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×9428912

  • slugger says:

    Jon Stewart REALLY needs to read this excellent piece.

    Thank you, Tara.

  • RLGL says:

    “The fact is, the rank and file Right don’t need appeasing, they need educating.”

    Well, if this had been a 100% “Go liberals, go Democrats!” rally, how many Independent, Republican, and less liberal/more conservative people would have simply turned it off and NOT been educated to the extent they were?

    I think it was played about right.

  • TomDem55 says:

    I get what you are saying, but I think we all know which side these two are on, our side…
    The false equivelancy argument is correct in as much as you state it. I think that the point of the clips of Olberman and other lefties was to
    a) take the starch out of rightie criticism
    b) to allow the “both sides” argument get some folk to see his final statement who might not have seen ti

    I admit I did a double take when he put Olberman and other lefties on during the video set
    but I think it was for making a point about rhetoric
    and YES I understand that our side is almost exclusively responding to outrages and lies from the righties…

  • Robert Douglas says:

    When Jon Stewart stood on the steps of the US Capitol three days before the 2010 mid-term election and held his rally, he did more damage to the progressive cause in this country than Andrew Breitbart could ever do in a million years. He stood there and told 500,000 young progressives not to give a shit. After a summer of my current US Representative Allen West’s campaign mgr. saying “if ballots don’t work bullets will”, and the candidate himself saying “God help them if we don’t get what we want”, after Alaskan Senatorial candidate Joe Miller’s supporters threw a parade, complete w/ AR-15′s and illlegaly detained a reporter who was in no way breaking any laws, after they started bringing guns to the President Obama’s speeches, after a 20 year-old female college student got her head stomped on by a grown man at a Rand Paul rally, to say that the discord, divisiveness and delusion are somehow equally supplied by liberals and conservatives alike is, simply put, unforgivable. It’s not always just a difference of opinion. Sometimes, Jon that other guy over there is just fucking WRONG! Not everyone with the courage of their convictions is a fact spinning blowhard. The point that desperately needs to be made here is that we are NOT polarized, polarized means your being pulled in two different directions. I’m 33 years old and this society has gotten inexorably more politically conservative every year since I’ve been old enough to follow politics. For crying out loud it was only a decade ago that the most scandalous thing the right wing talked about publicly was repealing the Estate Tax. Cons have been dragging us kicking and screaming to the right for way too long now, and the awful truth is that there isn’t anyone, certainly not the Democratic party, that is interested in putting up much of a fight. Sure, they scream and yell at each other on Cable TV, but when it comes to actual policy making, the conservative agenda carries the day, regardless of which…

  • Marxist Hypocrisy 101 says:

    Don’t mean to burst your little propaganda-laden bubble of regressive denialism, but obama is also a war criminal, hyis politics are ineffecient and authoritarian and undeniably inspired by socialist rhetoric and the idiotic belief in central planning, and FDR was a petty tyrant who DID, in fact, screw over our infrastructure so badly the effects are still beign held.

    He also ordered thousands of people into camps based on their race, but let’s not let historical fact get in the way of Leftist stupidity.

  • Taradacktyl says:

    Wow! Thanks, “Marxist Hypocrisy 101″ You “burst” my bubble! Thanks for opening my propagandized eyes!

    Now, I suddenly feel “free” to submit myself to corporate subjugation and regurgitate Faux News talking points! I am finally liberated to post non-substantiated rants on blogs I’ve never read and whine about “Marxism” while I pine for a billionaire to trickle on me and meet me for a beer! Thank you!!

    Arrogant ignorance sure is freedom!

    I do share your concern about all the tyrants running loose in this country. How do you stand it? Do you just enjoy our courts, roads, bridges, public education, public parks, sewer system, electric grid and collect your social security anyway? I mean, that’s what Ayn Rand did after her filthy 3-pack a day smoking habit caught up to her after spending a lifetime deriding Social Security recipients as “parasites.” When you drink water from a tap and don’t suffer explosive diarrhea, do you just tell yourself that was a gift from Jesus because you’re a good, corporate tool?

    I was SO misguided before! I ACTULLY believed (yuck)“facts” like the fact that FDR saved Capitalism from itself! I mean, I ACTUALLY looked at the top marginal tax rates and deregulation of the first Republican Great Depression, and compared it to the top marginal tax rates and deregulation of today, and saw they were the SAME! Now, thanks to you, I know that the real problem with “facts” is that they have such a liberal bias – and I wasn’t watching enough Fox News! Forget the “fact” that studies have revealed that people who watch Fox News are actually less informed than people who watch no news at all! My job is just to watch – not question – and cheer the plutocrats trickling on me… in the hopes that they may, one day, actually start trickling.

    But, please, pray tell? I guess the years before you liberated me STILL makes it difficult to understand how Corporate Profits could be at such record-breaking levels – in fact, transnational corporate American is currently reaping the largest after-tax profit in the nation’s history, while the working class wages continue to stagnate and decline, if such a Marxist/Socialist/Communist (same, thing to you… I mean, “us,” …right?) really was attacking our transnational corporate masters?

    I must say, it WAS pretty sly of Obama to initiate a “government takeover” of our health care system by giving for-profit health insurance companies millions of more customers!
    What a clever ruse! He must have learned that trick in Marxist/Socialist/Communist School! FIRST you cement and empower Big Business – THEN you ATTACK! I wonder, though, dear liberator? When will the attack come? I don’t know… but I DO know that YOU will be standing guard with the unsubstantiated blog posts about Marxism/Socialism/Communism to make sure we’re ready with our tri-cornered hats draped with teabags!

    In the meantime… should I STILL feel relieved that my 23-year-old cousin with a chronic illness can remain on my Aunt’s policy? I should be OUTRAGED at this ASSAULT on his FREEDOM to die or go bankrupt in the “your money or your life” health racket.

    Oh… screw it… I guess now that you’ve opened my eyes, I can be as hypocritical as the rest of you!

    I wonder, though, kind liberator… why wouldn’t you (and the rest of the “enlightened” CONS who want all the benefits of civilization, but none of the
    Marxism/Socialism/Communism of having billionaires pay their fair share… you know… as that Socialist Eisenhower did when he taxed the rich at 90% and built the interstate highway system) just “Go Galt” and shred the trappings of civilization CLEARLY weighing you down!?! Why don’t you throw off the oppression of the tyrants like FDR whose policies STILL keep 2/3rds of the elderly out of poverty… and move to a REAL Conservative paradise – like Pakistan or Somalia?

    I’m sure we can forgive you for your historically inaccurate/uninformed musings and phony email address (I did read that Conservatives have larger fear centers in their brains, so I know you inherent cowardice can’t help but come out sometimes, dear liberator) as it is just a reflection of how busy you are packing your belongings and FLEEING this TYRANT land for the FREEDOM of Somalia!

    Please! Let me know how Somalia is so I can also flee this horrific land of socialist roads, libraries, fire departments, police departments, clean water, courts, social safety net… uck… welfare. (Now that you’ve “burst my bubble,” will I no longer enjoy the fact that I live in a country that doesn’t let people outright starve in the streets- YET! WE CLEARLY have more work to do, sir! I’m SURE you won’t rest until poor American children are back in the mines, or out in the streets selling matches – or themselves… whatever the “free market” dictates!)

    THANK YOU opening my eyes! How cleverly you use the Internet the government developed to beat them at their own game!

    Thank you! But… I must say… now that you’ve clued me in to the ways of “freedom.” I find now I can barely stand when the oppressive government forces me (can you believe it – ME!!) to stop my vehicle for a red light! Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave – (you know… the grave that marks what he felt was his greatest accomplishment – founding a FREE (Socialist) University! UCK…)

    Please, my Teabagger liberator! Please show your supplicants how it’s done! GO GALT! Take your self-made ass to Somalia! Send us a post card… if you can find a post office, that is…

    P.S. …now that I’m “free” – do I have to be as boring as you? I hope not. I would recommend you relax in between fleeing this tyrant land and take a trip to a library to read… say… “The History of Western Civilization,” but learning is so “liberal” and a library is too damn Marxist/Socialist/Communist. Besides, who needs all that “elitist” learnin’ when we have Fox News to tell us what to think?

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