I Respectfully Disagree With Jon Stewart

Sullivan ran this quote from Jon Stewart today:

“Even if you’re eating delicious chocolate cake, there are moments you feel like, ‘I’ve had too much.’ Now replace ‘chocolate cake’ with ‘shit taco’ and you know what our day is like every day. But this is not a fragile country. I’m not suggesting we couldn’t find ourselves in deep conflict. But we had slaves, and we fought a civil war; now we’re down to Glenn Beck being hyperbolic with his audience about nostalgia. This too shall pass,”

On the surface it makes perfect sense. In fact, my first reaction was to say to myself, "Yeah, he's right." But then I thought about all of the awfulness that was churned up in American throughout this past decade, and how much of it was the consequence of an irresponsible and complacent old media. Maybe not Glenn Beck alone, but, in its entirety, the slow dissolving of "the news" and the rise of jingoistic characters on cable news and radio helped to sell the Iraq War and all the rest of it.

No, Glenn Beck isn't as awful as the Civil War and his act will eventually fade, but we downplay this crap at our own peril, because it's not Beck himself, it's the consequences of Beck and dozens of copycats. How many years will it take to unwind the first decade of the 21st Century -- a decade in which Fox News established itself as a conduit for a variety of trespasses against American values, the rule of law and the Constitution? Who knows.