Jon Stewart Tears into the Public's Fascination with Useless Media Scandals

Jon Stewart Tears into the Public's Fascination with Useless Media Scandals

Bill O'Reilly has been spending the past week dealing with a Brian Williams problem. Much like the now-suspended NBC News host, O'Reilly came under fire from Mother Jones, among other sources, for potentially misleading audiences about his experience reporting from a war zone in the Falklands in 1982.

But for the master of the mislabeled "No-Spin Zone," as Jon Stewart noted on Tuesday night's Daily Show, this is all old hat.

"Misrepresenting the zone he is in is kind of his hook," Stewart said of O'Reilly, "on a network whose slogan, ['fair and balanced'], is a textbook case of trolling."

But Stewart's main point wasn't about O'Reilly's scandal at all. Rather, it was a question about the Fox News host, Brian Williams and other media figures plagued by scandal. "Why don't we just agree that a good amount of the personal anecdotes from our media figures are seasoned with bullshit?" he asked.

He then turned his attention to recent reports that Robert McDonald, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, had lied about serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces. Though McDonald is a veteran, he never served with that particular branch. However, as Stewart observed, that lie was told in an attempt to connect with a homeless Special Forces veteran, not in an attempt to self-aggrandize.

"Aren't we missing the point here?" he said. "Shouldn't the shocking scandal on this tape not be the awkward attempt to connect with the homeless Special Forces veterans, but the existence of homeless Special Forces veterans?"

Stewart is right. Unlike the Brian Williams and Bill O'Reillys of the world whose problems are arguably not worth as much of our attention, countless U.S. Army veterans continue to find themselves stuck with a raw deal, but — despite well documented and seriously disconcerting issues with things like the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans' meager health care services — no one seems to care.

Instead, Stewart said, the real focus of the public's attention should be on claims like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's since-proven-false charge to the U.N. that Iran was one year away from making nuclear weapons. 

As the host put it, "We might be just a little better off if the exaggerations about covering a war get less attention than the exaggerations that get us into so many of them."

Watch the full clip below:

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Kevin O'Keeffe

Kevin is the arts editor at Mic, writing about inclusion and representation in pop culture. He is based in New York and can be reached at kevin@mic.com.

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