NBC Sports, Jon Stewart Make Headlines Sunday

By Sunday afternoon, there was a flurry of activity surrounding two events that still had people buzzing Monday morning. In a certain sense, both touched on patriotism.

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.

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8 comments about "NBC Sports, Jon Stewart Make Headlines Sunday".
  1. Dave O'Mara from Logan Marketing Communications , June 20, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.

    If there was any doubt on which side of the political spectrum Stewart sits, he blew it with his comment about FNN viewers being the most misinformed. This idiocy is being parroted by every bozo on the Left in hopes of it gaining traction.

  2. Paula Ernst from Message Matters , June 20, 2011 at 4:17 p.m.

    Just a few of the polls that Jon Stewart cited:

    “An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out [in 2009] found that Fox News viewers were overwhelmingly misinformed about health care reform proposals. A 2008 Pew study ranked Fox News last in the number of ‘high knowledge’ viewers and a 2007 Pew poll ranked Fox viewers as the least knowledgeable about national and international affairs.”
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal/2011_06/the_most_consistently_misinfor030360.php

    Nothing vague about those results...

  3. Daryl Moen from University of Missouri , June 20, 2011 at 4:23 p.m.

    O'Mara's comments that Fox viewers are, in fact, misinformed, as Paula Ernest aptly demonstrates. But if you live in the Fox silo and you don't read, you don't know about those polls, do you? Apparently the author of this blog didn't know either. Embarrassed?

  4. Steve Beverly from Union Broadcasting System , June 20, 2011 at 5:08 p.m.

    May I ask where the empirical research is to back up the assertion that "most people just ignore the phrase, and consider it a benign part of the recitation?" Or is this an off-the-cuff opinion of the writer? To suggest this is almost as offensive as the act itself was by NBC.

    As for the suggestion "if the network didn't want to offend anyone, its intentions were in the right place," excuse me. If NBC had aired anything even slightly considered anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim, the mainline media would have screamed. So, I suppose in the continuing fear of offending in the mainline media, the evolution of anti-Christian bias in media is acceptable.

  5. Norman Birnbach from Birnbach Communications , June 21, 2011 at 8 a.m.

    I think it's interesting that the Stewart-Wallace interview itself can leave people with very different, politically based perspectives.

    I think Stewart's biggest point got left out of the recap. In trying to help Wallace understand him, Stewart said that his goal is to follow a tradition set by Mark Twain: to hold up absurdities of American life and politics -- and now, its 24-hour saturation media.

    I provided some additional thoughts on my blog, PR Back Talk, http://bit.ly/jfCRbz.

  6. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP , June 21, 2011 at 9:12 a.m.

    RE NBC: Perhaps a politically-motivated, McCarthy-era addition to the Pledge ("under god") doesn't need to be at the start of a golf match. Or in the pledge at all. Tee off on that.

    Stewart on Fox: First of all, Fox EDITED OUT a significant comment by Steward during the discussion of marching orders memos mentioning "Bill Sammon's emails". Wallace did immediately and deftly steer the conversation elsewhere but those marching orders are documented in the real world. You can be sure that Wallace didn't want to discuss that.

    Plus, Wallace compared his network to Stewart's. Really, what real news organization would want to compare Southpark to "Fox and Friends" but Wallace wanted to do just that.

    Wallace is no more fair and balanced than any of the other rodeo clowns on Fox. His interviews with Palin are so softball it's silly. Take any interview any Fox clown conducts with Bush compared with Obama. The approach is way different. But take any Bush/Obama interview comparisons on ABC, CBS, NBC or PBS and you will find some semblance of toughness on each. Sure, MSNBC is trying the FoxNews approach. But Fox isn't a counterweight to the mainstream press. It is politically driven and run by far right-wing zealots Murdoch, Ailes and Sammon. No comparison to any other news organization including MSNBC.

  7. Michael Cornette from Bonten Media , June 21, 2011 at 5:46 p.m.

    Lucky for us, Paula was able to provide all thoes surveys that talks about how dumb and backwards Fox viewers are. However, if you weren't one of the people who began celebrating and tweeting the results of these polls to show your frineds and followers exactly how smart you were because you didn't watch Fox and actually dug into them, you saw how objective many of the answers/responses were.

    As an example, in a poll often quoted by Fox haters, the questions states: Is it your impression that most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislations (1) saved or creatred several million jobs, (2) saved or created a few jobs, (3) caused job loss. According to the survey, the correct anser is #1, but proving the saved jobs number is rather difficult and convenient.

    Most Fox viewers pass on the Kool Aid and question the drivel being fed to us by those in the mainstream media.

  8. Thom Kennon from Agency Pure , June 22, 2011 at 7:46 a.m.

    Of course these stories are linked, altho actual logic would seem to refute this.

    But here's the glue: If there actually was a god, she wouldn't let Fox invite smarter people then themselves on their sets to discuss whether they were smart enough to not mention this "god" inside their doctored testaments of patriotism.

    Right?

    Thom Kennon | @tkennon | bigevidence.blogspot.com