Jon Stewart isn't the first person to mock the screen-heavy News Deck at the center of Shepard Smith's new show on Fox News. But on Wednesday night's Daily Show, he dug in with gusto, mixing hearty ridicule with trenchant media criticism.
Stewart said he actually likes and respects Smith, so maybe he should give him the benefit of the doubt, "even if his new digs do look like an Apple Genius Bar had an orgasm." He mocked the "ridiculously large iPads" and the giant screens on the wall, noting quite reasonably that the mammoth weather map Shep is playing with won't look any bigger on our 32-inch TV screens at home.
But the bigger problem with the futuristic technology, Stewart said, is that it seems pointless, or worse. Smith suggested that the massive screens and desk-sized tablets would help with news-gathering and reporting, but "nothing you said couldn't be done using a phone," Stewart quipped. This led to the heart of Stewart's critique: "You don't get to be better newsmen because your computers go to 11."
Quite the opposite, Stewart said. If you have giant photos of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict next to a Cowboys-Giants football game, that flattens out the news, depriving it of the context and editorial judgment that should drive TV news programs. "Shep, can't you see what they've done to you?" Stewart asked. "They're destroying you with the only surefire way they know to ruin a real newsman: They put you in a Situation Room. Shep, you've been CNN'd."
In the now all-to-familiar "Shutstorm 2013" part of the show, Stewart focused on the metaphors President Obama and the Republicans are using to sway the public to their side of the government shutdown argument. Obama's aren't great, Stewart said — is he really comparing the GOP antics to a union strike? — but the GOP's are ridiculous, and nonsensical:
Stewart's extended take on Sen. Mike Lee's (R-Utah) analogy about the federal budget being like a trip to the grocery store is worth the price of admission.
Moderate Republicans could end this shutdown if they voted their conscience, rather than ducking their heads out of fear of a Tea Party primary challenge, Stewart noted with some exasperation, but apparently "they're willing to let people lose their government paycheck so that they don't lose...their government paycheck."
Stewart then turned to Al Madrigal for an explanation of why moderate Republicans are cowering in fear. Madrigal's report involved a lot of gay innuendo — moderate Republicans are "bipartisan curious," he said. Watch above.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The week's best photojournalism
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
Subscribe to the Week