Fallows doesn't mention my very favorite part, which comes at about 3:45, when McCaughey first starts randomly flipping through her intimidating binder. ("How could I not know what I'm talking about when I have this big prop with me?") Stewart called her out for being completely dishonest and wrong about something or other in the bill, and by way of rebuttal she pointed to a page and said, "Guess what, the first time I read it I wrote 'disgusting.' See? 'Disgusting.'" Oh well that changes EVERYthing. Your interpretation must be correct, because your alleged emotional reaction backs it up!
Jon Stewart has been doing more and more "serious" interviews recently. The fact that he's become an important figure in the public discourse as an interviewer, and not just as a satirist, is partly a testament to him and his show, but just as much a testament to how pathetic and cowardly actual television news shows are these days. But he's still, at heart, a comedian, which manifests itself in ways that irritate me. In particular, he's always looking to riff on whatever his interviewee has just said with a punch line that redirects attention to himself. I don't care about this when he's talking to a movie star (in those cases I usually just turn the interview off). But when he's talking to someone who actually has some valuable information to communicate, I'd rather he didn't keep trying to steal the ball back. And when he's talking to someone who's spreading misinformation, as McCaughey was, I'd rather he didn't let them off the hook with a joke, as he does here. That tension in the room -- that incredulous "...Seriously, that's your argument?" burst of laughter from the studio audience -- is what makes this good TV. That's not the moment to open the valve and make everyone comfortable again.
Since I've been on an Arrested Development kick, I probably would have channeled Maeby Funke if it were up to me to reply: "Let's just sit quietly and consider how ridiculous that statement was."
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|Betsy McCaughey Pt. 1|