Jon Stewart: Climate Scientist

Kudos to Simon Donner for picking up on one of the more interesting things that Jon Stewart said last week in his interview with Rachel Maddow:

This is–I’m not saying–look, I love the voices that I hear on MSNBC. And there’s a difference between–here’s what’s unfair about what I do. This is really what’s a great–here’s a great thing that I think is unfair.

You’re one person with one great voice and sincere–but I’m a climate scientist. I study weather patterns and climate. You’re talking about the weather. Maybe these networks are not meant to be viewed in aggregate, but there is an aggregate. There is an effect.

What Stewart is saying here (I listened to the interview) is that the partisan storylines and hyperbolic tone on Cable TV news shows is self-reinforcing and ends up forming the main lens through which policy and political issues are viewed by the public. Everything gets reduced to a battle between the extremes.

Donner thinks that Stewart has made ” a perfect analogy” for the climate blogosphere, and asks:

Are the climate blogs dealing with the “weather”? Or with the climate?

It’s an excellent question. What do you think?

10 Responses to “Jon Stewart: Climate Scientist”

  1. RickA says:

    I think a great deal of it is weather.
    He said, she said and a lot of name calling.
    However, some of it is about climate.
    Cleaning up the data will have repercussions going forward.
    Nailing down the range for climate sensitivity seems to be to be about climate.
    Trying to figure out whether clouds are a negative or positive feedback seems to be to be about climate.
    So, in my opinion, it is a mix (as most things in life).

  2. laursaurus says:

    That was an awesome interview!
    I got the sense that his point was that cable news channels have framed the main conflict in our country as Republicans vs. Democrats, OR Progressives vs. Conservatives. But in reality, conflict lies with battling corruption, whether it’s within corporations or government.
    It does seem this could describe the climate change bloggers, present company excluded 😉 Certainly Monbiot’s battle de jour is similar to the partisan bickering on TV. Especially the derogative terms and contempt for the opposition.
    Hopefully your readers have already watched or listened to the actual interview and are aware that he wasn’t actually commenting on the topic of climate change.
    It was interesting how Rachael Maddow agreed that Stewart’s impression of Fox News was appropriate, but couldn’t step outside her own little world long enough to realize how it also applies to her show and the rest of MSNBC.
    The recent example of Juan Williams was the perfect example. She seemed to kind of agree. But no, NOT Teabagger! That was different because one of them said, “let’s teabag Washington.” Plus she wouldn’t back off on the “Bush is a war criminal” rhetoric. I almost started to like her a little bit for a moment. But no!  The hyperbole she uses is justified @@

  3. sambo says:

    I thought this was a fantastic interview, and I have an enormous amount of respect for Jon Stewart.

    One thing I think is missing from his quote though is what he meant by the media’s influence in aggregate. Go to minute 29 (about) and he makes it a bit clearer. His main point was that little issues seem to be blown out of proportion (Balloon Boy anyone?) which definitely applies to the blogosphere (“… GW is a hoax” or “… most debunked person in the GW debate”).

  4. Vinny Burgoo says:

    I don’t get the Jon Stewart thing.* Apparently, he’s adored by American liberals because his whole shtick is a witty spoof of  right-wing chat shows. I can’t spot any of that. To me, he’s just another self-adoring American chat-show host with weird hair who interviews people with books to sell. Please explain his unique appeal to American liberals in words that a non-American might understand.
    *I’m in the UK, where we get a special ‘International’ edition. Perhaps the real thing is less bland.

  5. PDA says:

    <i>I don’t get the Jon Stewart thing.* Apparently, he’s adored by American liberals because his whole shtick is a witty spoof of  right-wing chat shows.</i>
    Part of your confusion may stem from the fact that the person you think is Jon Stewart is actually Stephen Colbert.

  6. keith kloor says:

    Ha! Thanks for clearing that up, PDA. I was scratching my head at Vinny’s comment, without thinking he mixed up Colbert and Stewart.
    For the record, I find both hilarious.

  7. Eli Rabett says:

    Weather sells.  It even has its own channel.

  8. Shub says:

    I dont get Jon Stewart either. Too mainstream.

  9. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ‘Part of your confusion may stem from the fact that the person you think is Jon Stewart is actually Stephen Colbert.’
    Ah! Thanks. (Now to track down the rest of my confusion.)

  10. Andy says:

    Yes, it was a great interview.  It speaks volumes about the state of our political discourse that a satirist is one of the few willing or able to talk some sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *