On Monday, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert came down kind of hard on poor Jim Ross of ABC News.
Albeit, it was a sloppy, amateurish mistake, though no one, including Mr. Ross seems to have told us how they found out it wasn't true. I mean, that's a sort of important fact, did Mr. Holmes call up ABC and say what the heck or did the Colorado Tea Party call up and say, what the heck?
Why is that important? Well--people who have openly associated with the Tea Party, have gone to political rallies, packing heat. While Ross (and conceivably the whole news team) were at fault for allowing this flub to get on the air, it wouldn't in any way, shape or form, be an illogical leap to assume someone's political beliefs might impinge on their actions, however sick they may be. And the Tea Party, if anything at all, is pro-freedom on a very small subset of rights that only people on the far right care about (again, see my post of earlier today, Guns, Gods and Gays).
Regardless--watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert lambaste Ross for an exceedingly common newsroom mistake, made me a little angry.
I'm frankly getting a little bit sick of the narrative that criticizing both the left and the right, somehow demonstrates fair and balanced commentary or reporting. I feel like Jon Stewart, who was harsher than Colbert, probably set that one up for his buddy Bill O'Reilly. So that he can, at a later date, whine to him, but look at me, I did this, and Bill, in his melodious, deep voice, can say "Oh that's all right Jon, you're one of the good ones."
Both Stewart and Colbert's bits took up (combined) about 18 minutes of their respective 44 minutes of television. You guys like to pretend about your truthiness and your values, but there is only one story tonight, and everyn ight until the firestorm goes away. Why is there such poor gun control in this country? No humor in this subject? Clearly not, I've already posted some of The Onion's jibes. And I've seen about a dozen jokes on facebook today about what cheeses are banned, and what guns are allowed, what requirements are mandatory for the acquisition of an automobile, and how easy it is to acquire guns in certain states. To be fair, Jon's bit on this was pretty funny, but harping on Ross's flub draws away from the important aspect of this tragedy. Which, I'm beginning to think, isn't the needless slaughter (that as Arthur Miller would say in his essay on tragedy, is just pathetic--his term, not mine) the tragedy is that we are doomed to repeat these senseless acts because we will not ever control guns in this country.
The possibility of victory must be there in tragedy. Where pathos rules, where pathos is finally derived, a character has fought a battle he could not possibly have won. The pathetic is achieved when the protagonist is, by virtue of his witlessness, his insensitivity, or the very air he gives off, incapable of grappling with a much superior force.
And that is political. And that is partisan. And that Mr. Stewart, Mr. Colbert, is why you're wrong.