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Stewart’s right: The media should do a better job

Jon Stewart’s rally to restore sanity turned into a rally against cable news media.

The media are still trying to figure out how to react.

Some are upset. Keith Olbermann claimed that Stewart “jumped the shark”.

The New York Times called Stewart a political activist. The right barely noticed. But if you pay attention to the media reaction to Stewart, you get the feeling that the media aren’t  happy.

But this has been a long time coming. Stewart, who places himself in the position of not being a journalist while acting and reporting like a journalist, has long been the best critic of the media out there. He skewers media partisanship and, has been doing so for quite a long time.

But his argument is fair. America news media have become hyperpartisan in their political coverage. It’s hard to find the media coverage that is both, to use an old media saying that has been subordinated by Fox, fair and balanced. The Pew Center for Media Research has reported that Americans are looking for news that fits their personal beliefs while at the same time reporting that Americans say the press is less credible than ever before. Politicians have noticed this. A New York Times piece recently mentioned that this year the politicians seem to be ripping the press like never before. This isn’t the usual barbs back and forth, with at least a sense of civility in the discourse. This is raw anger.

Stewart has a right to call the media on this. He has a right for news media to report the news. But there’s another problem to this. Celebrity sells. Journalists as celebrity sells.

They also draw ratings. Which brings us to the question:  What role should media play in elections? What is the best way to get the news to the public in a way that the public will pay attention?