Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Jon Stewart’s exit interview with the Guardian

Jon Stewart, who will be departing as host of The Daily Show later this year, spoke with the Guardian (“Jon Stewart: why I quit The Daily Show“) about why he’s leaving behind a job he loved for 16 years.

“It’s not like I thought the show wasn’t working any more, or that I didn’t know how to do it. It was more, ‘Yup, it’s working. But I’m not getting the same satisfaction.’” He slaps his hands on his desk, conclusively.

“These things are cyclical. You have moments of dissatisfaction, and then you come out of it and it’s OK. But the cycles become longer and maybe more entrenched, and that’s when you realise, ‘OK, I’m on the back side of it now.’”

I quit watching it. I found it wasn’t worth staying up until 12:05 a.m., and while this article doesn’t cite any, I read in another that The Daily Show’s ratings were down 18 per cent in the past year. One reason I suspect the ratings were down were because Stewart kept replowing the same ground on cable news hackery and even he was getting bored.

But still, knowing when to walk away is something to be admired.

This was an insightful sequence from the interview:

Since Stewart announced his departure, much has been written about him being the most trusted news source for young Americans. Stewart kiboshes this as “conventional wisdom. In the sea of information that surrounds people of that generation, I’d be truly surprised if their only news comes four days of the week, for a few minutes a night.” … Isn’t he being a bit faux modest, I ask, especially when he insists that what he does is comedy and not news? That comes with a certain profile. He thinks about this for a few seconds. “It’s not that I… I mean, it’s satire, so it’s an expression of real feelings. So I don’t mean that in the sense of, ‘I don’t mean this.’ What I mean is, the tools of satire should not be confused with the tools of news. We use hyperbole, but the underlying sentiment has to feel ethically, intentionally correct, otherwise we wouldn’t do it.”

It’s too bad he didn’t offer thoughts in the interview on how to make the news better or more credible. But I found this tweet from Lizz Winstead, who co-founded the show:

Sat, April 18 2015 » Main Page, Media