Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amy Goodman and Jon Stewart should join forces

I think Amy Goodman and Jon Stewart should join forces to create a youth led movement for accountable and democratic news media.


1. Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" last Halloween was basically a huge waste. Somewhere around 200,000 young people showed up from around the country, displaying their creativity, intelligence, and passion for all America to see---but why? It was a perfect rally for the hipster generation---all the material accoutrement of the revolutionary events our parents marched in to create real change during the 60's--but no real content, except to mock and/or laugh. But Jon did prove that if he wanted to, he could get the younger generation to show up. And that's not nothing.

2. Later, when Rachel Maddow interviewed Jon Stewart, he seemed to suggest that the rally's purpose  was to send a message to the media, not the right wing. He even says the 'real' fight going on in America isn't between Democrats and Republicans, but between corruption and not. And yet, he never went far enough to say what causes the myriad of problems that we find in the media.

3. Amy Goodman represents everything that Jon Stewart seems to want out of the media, under his definition that it is the media's job to shine light on corruption. She has an incredible record of seeking out the stories in our country and around the world that the people in power don't want anyone to hear. And yet beyond the war crimes, the corporate exploitation, the government crackdowns on activists, the corrupted judicial system and our crumbling environment--Amy Goodman's real cause is independent media. As she explained in the heart wrenching 2006 documentary "Independent Intervention", there is no chance for our democracy, and the world's population, without a robust independent media.

4. In Jon Stewart's most recent interview with Chris Wallace, he seems to be even closer to acknowledging publicly what really ails the news media, as he admitted that the bias of places like the New York Times and CNN isn't a liberal agenda but towards "sensationalism and laziness"(clearly caused by profit motives). Stewart seems truly pained by this, it's obvious throughout his interviews and on his show that he deeply feels there is a problem with media today.

5. Amy Goodman has no problem at all stating what the problem is, as found in the "About" section of Democracy Now!: "But the last two decades have seen unprecedented corporate media consolidation. The U.S. media was already fairly homogeneous in the early 1980s: some fifty media conglomerates dominated all media outlets, including television, radio, newspapers, magazines, music, publishing and film. In the year 2000, just six corporations dominated the U.S. media."

6. Jon Stewart is incredibly funny.

7. Amy Goodman is so dead serious.

Is this not a match made in heaven? Our generation is desperate for a cause, and here, two of the biggest heroes in the media--one with a proven track record of inspiring his audience to action, the other with a the kind of experience and integrity that all journalists should aspire to. Jon needs to make the connection between the corporate monopoly on the media and the problems in the media today. (These points are made brilliantly and methodically in Robert McChesney's book "The Problem of the Media".) And Amy Goodman needs someone who can strike an emotional chord without alienating people with her penetrating honesty and intensity.

I don't know how exactly this union should start---maybe Amy could come on the Daily Show? Or Jon to Democracy Now? Maybe Jon could mention Amy's existence to his viewers? I can't really imagine it. I just want them to come together.

If you could pick two of your heroes to join forces who would they be?