An example for others to follow

AN EXAMPLE FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW…. Fox News’ Sean Hannity “reported” on the latest right-wing rally in Washington last week, but to give the impression of a larger crowd, he aired footage from a Tea Party event in September. Jon Stewart noticed, and ran a fairly devastating report the other night. Last night, Hannity apologized, conceded that he “screwed up” with an “inadvertent mistake.”

Will Bunch did a nice job putting the incident in a larger context.

…Jon Stewart and his outstanding team of “Daily Show” producers and writers not only “get” the importance of media manipulation and propaganda, but they can take it a step farther because they also have something that most bloggers do not — resources. Their access to large film libraries is what helps them to take down Fox, CNBC, and all the other media types (and politicians, too) when they say the polar opposite of what they were saying a year ago or even a month ago.

You know who else has those kinds of resources? Mainstream, big media newsrooms. But big media pathologically refuses to think of itself as a part of the national narrative, even as the millions of people who watch Jon Stewart or read your top political blogs know better. And until we in the old media can comprehend that, the new media will continue to leave us in the dust. So will the “fake” media.

It is striking to see how often “The Daily Show” finds gems that go overlooked elsewhere.

John Cole noted yesterday that he watched “Hardball” and found host Chris Matthews talking up Stewart’s segment on Hannity. It prompted a reasonable question: “That’s great, and everything, but why the hell is it up to Comedy Central to expose all the lies of the GOP and their paid mouthpieces? Shouldn’t a political show, say, one named HARDBALL, be breaking this sort of news, and not the network that shows South Park and Secret Girlfriend?”

In fairness, it seems that many of the most devastating exposes on “The Daily Show” have to do with other news outlets (such as Stewart’s takedown of CNBC earlier this year). It’s likely that, to use John’s example, the producers at “Hardball” don’t consider it worthwhile to watch Hannity’s program, looking for obvious examples of fraudulent “reporting.” That’s more the job of journalists whose beat is the media itself (see Kurtz, Howard).

But as Mark Halperin joked on MSNBC this morning, “Jon Stewart is now the Fox News Channel ombudsman.” If major outlets are prepared to let a partisan outlet help drive the political discourse, maybe they shouldn’t let the host of a fake-news show do all the heavy lifting?