John Stewart shines on Oreilly

J.Stewart’s appearance on the OReilly Factor was great. Stewart appeared impressively convincing and calm in the face of OReilly’s attempts to get a rise out of him. I think his strategy is to slow down, so that he can speak purposefully, rather than spout brash and brazen reactionary soundbites

The whole exchange reminds me of one of Noam Chomsky’s greatest critiques of modern telejournalism, that it is reduced to an exchange of soundbites with little room for developing any novel ideas.

Chomsky points out that if a person wants to introduce an idea that isn’t prepackaged as a soundbite the viewers are familiar with, it would take a couple minutes of explaining, developing, clarifying, elaborating. (When teachers want to introduce new ideas to their students, it often takes a lot more than two minutes!) But on CNN, Fox, and the rest, there’s hardly time to get one fifteen-second point out before the commentator jumps in to challenge it or move to the next point. It’s go, go go; no time for reflection, consideration, deliberation; no time for explaining an idea that might be unconventional, or why that idea might make sense. Hence we have a watering down of the quality of ideas, which are reduced to a caricature of an idea, and the reduction of telejournalism to a sort of daily melodrama where one political hack hashes it out with another, rather like two sports fans arguing about which team is better. The last thing they’re interested in is listening to each other or offering a considered, contextualized, balanced, and informed presentation of rich ideas to inform the public about the causes and consequences of what’s happening in the world.

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