-- By the time you read this, pundits will be doing their usual
hand-wringing about how, yet again, very few young people turned
out to vote Tuesday. Include me out of this particular worryfest.
Because, let's hand it to the 18- to 24-year-old set: They do
seem responsible enough to know when their deep ignorance of
the issues means they really shouldn't be voting.
their elders keep trying to persuade them otherwise. Tuesday
morning National Public Radio featured a story on a high school
teacher trying to convince students that, yes, issues DO affect
them and their little lives. Here was her rather desperate example:
They like to talk on cell phones in the car, right? Well, some
legislators are trying to ban that! Which would put a real crimp
in their driving style. Ergo, their votes matter.
talking on cell phones in cars should be banned and maybe it
shouldn't. But implying that it's OK to vote strictly according
to your own personal concerns strikes me as deeply irresponsible.
you're old enough to at least consider the other side of any
argument, to weigh an issue's cost or benefit to society against
its cost or benefit to you personally, you are not old enough
to vote and good for you if you know it. A history teacher is
the last person who ought to suggest otherwise.
source of fretting is the fact that many young people now get
their news with a twist, from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show,"
rather than straight, from TV networks. But actually, not only
is this cable parody news show a pretty good source of actual
news, it's also a potent antidote to the standard diet of televised
Chung seemed to recognize "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart as a
legitimate fellow news announcer when she asked him last summer,
apparently seriously, if he'd ever been offered Dan Rather's
or Peter Jennings's jobs.
very nice, but for God's sake, she married Maury Povich, what
does that tell you?" remarked Stewart at a Comedy Central news
conference in Los Angeles.
he added, "that night she was bouncing between -- literally,
the stories I think were arson, pedophilia, me and world soccer.
I hate to say that she was actually serious. I honestly think
she was still thinking about the arson thing."
Show" just returned to its New York base after spending a week
in Washington for its "Indecision 2002" election coverage. (As
the "Daily Show" theme jingle put it: "Midterm elections! They
come right in the middle. Midterm elections! They matter quite
the show's segments were sharper than anything I've seen from
the serious talking heads lately.
cut to the heart of the matter about far-right gadfly Pat Buchanan's
third-party candidacies, for instance. Buchanan, who'd dropped
by "The Daily Show's" temporary Washington set as a guest, argued
that polls indicate his constituency is a sizeable minority.
know, four out of five dentists recommend sugarless gum," Stewart
shot back. "That means the remaining dentists -- 20 percent
-- recommend sugared gum. So when we're talking about (these
polls of Buchanan supporters), you're in crazy sugared-gum land."
political really aren't all that different than "Daily Show"
correspondent Steven Colbert's fake one, which listed Colbert
as "running for government office (TBD - to be determined.)"
that elementary schools should be FOR OUR CHILDREN!" Colbert
announced. "But my opponent" -- flash to a quick headshot of
Hitler -- "is against all that."
music rose inspirationally as the camera returned to Colbert,
just the way it did the other week on "The West Wing," when
President Martin Sheen argued his points in the debate against
Republican challenger James Brolin. The music was turned off
silent when Brolin spoke. Naturally, "The West Wing" played
never plays anything straight. He is the master of the deadpan
retort, which is of course far more effective than simply railing
about what's wrong with the media.
it was the media's finest hour, the sniper coverage," Stewart
said as a guest on CNN's "Reliable Sources" last weekend. "By
watching the 24-hour news networks, I learned that the sniper
was an olive-skinned, white-black male - men - with ties to
Son of Sam, al Qaida and was a military kid, playing video games,
white, 17, maybe 40."
how all this plays out internationally, now that CNN began airing
a half-hour weekly version of "The Daily Show" called "The Daily
Show: Global Edition" this fall.
is that relatively little of it does. CNN International spokesman
Nigel Pritchard said that the cable news network plans to cull
"The Daily Show" for celebrity interviews and international
is too bad, as much of "The Daily Show" essence is its parody
of American peculiarities. Here's what Stewart had to say about
Richard Van Phamm, the California fisherman rescued from his
boat after floating from Catalina Island to Costa Rica.
Stewart gushed. "A story of a loner and a drifter that doesn't
end with the discovery of a half-buried femur."
say that any international tourist who's looked around at Disneyland
can appreciate "The Daily Show's" "Fatten Up for Fall" segment,
with its urgent warning that "20 percent of Americans are still
part, Stewart isn't exactly awed by CNN and its global audience.
my feeling is this: if you can make it in Bahrain, you can make
it in the United Arab Emirates," he said at the L.A. news conference.
"We're just excited to have the opportunity to let down the
entire world. CNN has bought the show, I really don't know why.
I'm not sure they realize that we're actually making fun of
badly for the countries that think we're serious," Stewart continued,
"but I have heard that in sub-Saharan Africa, irony is a real
this is not the first time we've been broadcast internationally,"
he added. "We have been in Canada for two years now. And may
I say, without incident. As a matter of fact, I believe that
our show has helped promote a healing between the two countries."
corporate tool," Stewart noted. "You have to understand this.
All I can do is my job, which is to host and sort of be the
content arbiter. If they want to put it on Lifetime and say
that it's really relevant to women's issues, you know, I'm fine
with that. My middle name is repurposing. I don't know if you