The Daily Show often annoys me. Unlike The Colbert Report, Jon Stewart seems to have at least a couple of “conservative” comedians. Or his otherwise liberal comedians really have to strain when trying to produce comedy from a conservative standpoint. For various reasons, The Colbert Report feels no need to pander. (For one thing, many conservatives like the character in the same way many liked Archie Bunker.) As a result, even though the best episodes of The Daily Show are better, The Colbert Report is far more consistent.
Over the last week, Jon Stewart has done three segments on the BATF’s “Fast and Furious” program. He was clearly happy to have the opportunity to tout his cherished even-handed “just the facts ma’am” approach. The problem is that the “Fast and Furious” program was not what it was sold as. Fortune Magazine has an excellent article about it. In it, Katherine Eban tells how the program worked: suspected straw purchasers were allowed to offload their purchases to other buyers, but the weak Arizona state laws prevented (or at least dissuade) prosecutors from indicted the straw purchasers. This contrasts starkly with the cable news meme that the BATF sold guns to straw purchasers who sent them south where one was used to kill Brian Terry.
The Daily Show made the same mistake it often satirizes news agencies for: not waiting until all the facts are in. Here, they threw out the conservative meme that the “Fast and Furious” program was a conspiracy to gut the Second Amendment, but accepted that the rest of the story coming from the conservatives was right.
Those who get their news primarily from Jon Stewart have now had three opportunities to get the conservative myth about the “Fast and Furious” program. And barring the conservatives doing something even more ridiculous, it looks like that’s all Daily Show viewers will know. After the contempt vote in the House today, The Daily Show will have one more chance to set the record straight. My bet is that they’ll pass.