In the wake of the news of Jon Stewart’s retirement, it has surprised me to see him lovingly eulogized by some (certainly not all) supporters of Gamergate. The man was an apparatchik.
Jon Stewart would repeat the tired tropes of the racism, homophobia, backwards rubish nature of anyone not fighting for the progressive ideology to his audience of roughly a million viewers*, his words would be picked up by the various Daily Beasts, Koses, the Huffington Posts, the Media Matters, Wonkettes, Mediaites and whatnots to be amplified in the echo-chamber of the liberal-progressive blogosphere and then highlighted on the morning and evening shows by the smiling automatons on network news. The media had made itself the story through this incestous circle-jerk, pushing the narratives in any way they could. His quantum status as pundit and entertainer gave Stewart a lot of plausible deniability on the ethics of journalism, though ultimately what was happening was he was saying things and behaving the way that network journalists wish they could and were ultimately able to by pushing clips from his show as though they themselves were somehow newsworthy.
I thought Gamergate was supposed to be against the coordinated crafting of media narratives across multiple, supposedly competing outlets. Yes, the network news will miss him and his ‘speaking truth to power’, call him ‘today’s Mark Twain’ and say how he was more important than Johnny Carson because he pioneered a new way to make people look at the news (protip: he didn’t), but when I see people who say they want more ethical journalism lionise this man, I’m reminded of the biggest true failure of the movement: the exclusive focus on media corruption in games journalism. Journalistic corruption isn’t to be found down some rabbit hole. It’s all around us.
*: It should be noted that in the TV ratings world, this is in the “peanuts” range. While he was heralded by the big 3 as some kind of “voice of millenials”, in truth, he was being watched by .3% of America on a good night with an average viewer age of around 40.