I guess all America is wondering, as I am, what happened to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They used to be iconoclastic. They used to express public outrage. They used to be funny. Viacom, jewel of the embedded mass media and employer of these two peformers, must have said something, because they have both quit saying anything.
They still mock public officials, but they don’t challenge them. On the contrary, they indulge them. Stewart no longer dares to confont misbehaving members of the ruling class but comes to them as a supplicant. Colbert doesn’t visit Congress anymore. Stewart humanizes fascists like Pervez Musharaf and Vicente Fox while Colbert trades pleasantries with the likes of Kissinger and O’Reilly.
Most of Colbert’s material is aimed at Colbert, and Stewart mainly picks on people who are already being kicked around by the media. Iran receives a generous share of derision, but Israel is never mentioned on either show. The two brainy comedians practice a postmodern brand of satire that afflicts the afflicted and comforts the comfortable. Their audience will soon lose interest, and they will be justly shuttled into trite cinema, Hollywood’s refuge for prostituted satirists.