The Obama Of Newsmen

by Chris Bodenner

Jacob Gershman explores why neoconservative pundits love Jon Stewart:

[H]e's providing them a platform to reach an audience that usually tunes them out. And they often find that Stewart takes them more seriously than right-wing political hosts, who are often just using them to validate their broad positions, do. Stewart will poke fun, but he offers a good-faith debate on powder kegs torture, abortion, nuclear weapons, health care that explode on other networks. "Shepard Smith did the same discussion [on torture]," says [Cliff] May. "He kept yelling me at me: 'This is where I get off the bus! Not in my name!' He wasn't arguing with me. It was just assertions and anger. That's not what Jon deals in."

To be sure, Stewart wants to outsmart and discombobulate his conservative guests. He loves catching them in inconsistencies. "I feel like you just trapped me," a grinning Kristol told Stewart, after Kristol conceded that the government provides "first-rate" health care to American soldiers. "I just want to get this on the record," said Stewart. "You just said ... the government can run a first-class health-care system."

The whole post is worth reading. Several of my friends argue that Stewart is toothless, but I think his deference is what sets him apart - both in civility and effectiveness. Plus, it makes his occasional pwnage of people like Cramer and Carlson all the more satisfying.