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Daily Show v. Faux News

A few days ago, Jon Stewart appeared on ‘Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace. But as Stewart points out on his show, Fox selectively edited the interview before broadcasting it, removing the most interesting part: where Chris Wallace admits that — contrary to their claims — Fox News is not fair or balanced, but is intentionally and unmistakably conservative, acting as a counterweight to the liberal media. Watch it here:

Even more fun ensues as Stewart points out how often Fox News lies:

In this video, Stewart also notes that PolitiFact rated one of his statements false, and he apologizes for the mistake. Interestingly, PolitiFact did a followup because, as they put it “When we gave a False rating to a statement by Daily Show host Jon Stewart, the response from readers was swift and virtually unanimous. They said we were wrong.” So was Stewart wrong? As Fox News likes to say, I’ll just present the facts and let you decide.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan sums it up nicely:

I have to say I thought Jon Stewart’s correction on Fox News viewers was about as perfect as these things can be. He copped to his own hyperbole, and then provided a list of outright uncorrected untruths that Fox has propagated. The point here is not the untruths – although they are embarrassing for a news channel – but the lack of any correction.

Which is to say that a comedy channel has more dedication to accountability for factual errors than a putative news network. Which tells you almost everything you need to know.



  1. GraniteUK wrote:

    Can you please post the video clip in such a way that it can be seen in the UK?

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink
  2. starluna wrote:

    I have to admit that I am impressed by the level of sophistication in the critiques, at least as presented by PolitiFact. It wasn’t just that people who disagreed with PolitiFact’s conclusion, they went after the definitions used in their evaluation. I hope one of my students was among the many that took them to task since this is the kind of thing that I try to teach them to do. I do think there is merit to the argument that there is a difference between being misinformed and uninformed in a way that matters here. But I also think that their overall approach was not quite right.

    I think they missed the issue of agency. I interpreted Stewart’s remarks to mean that Fox News misleads its viewers. Fox was the primary focus (the subject), the viewers were really secondary (the object). The misinformed viewer is merely a product of a misinformation campaign on the part of Fox. A more appropriate method of evaluating his statement would have been to evaluate, as Stewart did in the clip provided here, the level of accuracy in Fox’s claims of truth. Since it is entirely possible that a Fox viewer may have other sources of information that would provide corrective balance to some of the attempts at misinformation (this is called contamination by researchers looking at causal influences on individual behavior or knowledge), it doesn’t change the main claim that Fox consistently misinforms its viewers.

    I too have written to PolitiFact about their method before. So, I’m not surprised that they got it slightly off in this case.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    GraniteUK, Gawker reposted the videos, and you might be able to view them there. See:

    Starluna, excellent point.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  4. Michael wrote:

    In the Fox News video, one of my favorite parts starts around minute 14. He points out how every network tuned into Pelosi’s conference solely for her comments on Weiner. Then, when she says she’s not going to comment on that, they tune out. Here’s video of CNN, MSNBC and Fox doing it:

    He then follows it up (minute 15) with the point that Fox viewers are consistently the least informed of the major networks. I just don’t see how anyone can watch the Wallace/Stewart interview and not think that Wallace is being disingenuous.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  5. GraniteUK wrote:

    Got it, thanks Iron Knee 🙂

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  6. Sammy wrote:

    I have a feeling Chris Wallace finds anything beyond Laurel and Hardy a little to “edgy” for his comedy tastes. His clip showed a celebrity roast as evidence of the distastefulness of Comedy Central’s comedy. Has he never SEEN a celebrity roast? They’re distasteful one-upmenship of vulgarity on purpose.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  7. Ruth wrote:

    I find it interesting that Politifact ranks Stewart as important enough a news source to fact check. Clearly, his influence and that of Stephen Colbert will continue to grow as the 2012 election cycle proceeds.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Permalink
  8. TJ wrote:

    I like Politifact, but sometimes they infuriate me. For example, Jon Stewart gets a false on this, but they gave Sarah Palin a “Barely True” when she claimed Paul Revere’s ride was meant to “warn the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms” (really the complete opposite of what they actually did) on a technicality that he said something vaguely similar to the British AFTER he was captured and in custody. They couldn’t find a sliver of truth for Stewart (while readers certainly did), but they bend over backwards for Palin’s wild claims, using a technicality that she almost certainly didn’t know and wasn’t referring to.

    They need to stop being so tripped up by vague statements that are 90+% false and giving “Barely True.” Or they need to add a level between “Barely True” and “False”, because “Barely True” sounds far too positive.

    Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink
  9. TJ wrote:

    I should have linked the awful Politifact page I was refering to:

    Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink