NBC Sports, Jon Stewart Make Headlines Sunday
One, clearly: NBC airing a vignette before the U.S. Open with the Pledge of Allegiance that omitted the "under God" phrase. Complaints prompted the network to issue an on-air apology three hours later during the broadcast.
Earlier, Comedy Central's Jon Stewart made an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," jousting with host Chris Wallace. Wallace did a bang-up job with a provocative interview. Stewart was insightful, yet offered some quizzical responses when the topic of Fox News, a network that some say embodies patriotism, came up.
Commenting on the NBC Sports Facebook page, one person linked Sunday's two matters, saying Fox News would never edit out "one nation under God" from the pledge.
That's a sure bet. Regarding other issues still leaving a trail, here are some answers:
Was NBC's thinking twisted? Uh, yes. The vignette had schoolchildren running through the pledge twice. No mention of God either time. If the network didn't want to offend anyone, its intentions were in the right place, but it was over-thinking. Arguably, most people just ignore the phrase, and consider it a benign part of the recitation. In any case, omitting the phrase obviously caused more controversy than not altering things would have.
Did NBC handle the dust-up well? As well as it could. The controversy was going to rage on Facebook and through calls to HQ regardless. So its on-air statement -- "It was not done to upset anyone and we'd like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it." -- was about all it could do.
If NBC was so concerned about the phrase, why did it use it in the first place? Not sure. The Pledge of Allegiance was there as a way of celebrating both the U.S. championship and its being held in Washington. "The Star Spangled Banner" was the way to go.
Moving on to "Fox News Sunday":
Does Jon Stewart like the New York Times? He absolved the paper of record of some plot to turn America leftward, but thinks it may need more gravitas. Commenting on the Times and Washington Post reviewing Sarah Palin's emails as Alaska governor, he said: "I think their bias is toward sensationalism and laziness. I wouldn't say it's toward a liberal agenda. It's light fluff, so it's absolutely within the wheelhouse."
Does Stewart have a left-wing bias? He says no. No "ideological agenda on my part to affect partisan change." Instead, he says he's a comedian and his work has equal-opporunity jabbing. "It's about absurdity and it's about corruption and that is the agenda that we push," he said.
Did he get Clinton-ian with his answers? Yes, there was some wishy-washiness. At one point, he stressed he's a comedian "first," but that his comedy is "informed by an ideological background, there's no question about that."
Does he do more to earn a paycheck than Chris Wallace? He thinks so. "Being a comedian is harder than what you do ... I put material ... through a comedic process. I don't just sit and narrate," he told Wallace
Was he unfair to Wallace? Yes. He suggested Wallace, a smart guy who tries to play it straight, is a sort of front for Fox News to deflect criticism about partisanship. "You are here in some respects to bring a credibility and an integrity to an organization that might not otherwise have it without your presence," Stewart said, adding Wallace is there as a "counterweight" to the likes of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.
Was Stewart unfair to Fox viewers? Check. At one point, vaguely citing polls, he said: "Who is the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed! Fox ... consistenly ... every poll." Later, Stewart to his credit did say some people on the right feel they have been "victims of a witch hunt," and they have been unfairly described with sweeping negative terms. And, he has been guilty of that himself.