By now, the entire world is aware that Comedy Central’s Daily Show provided the only decent coverage of the 2000 election debacle. They called the outcome of the race a full 9 months before the election. They were the only media outfit which bothered to give any air time at all to the Greens. They nailed Arizona Senator John McCain with questions he couldn’t answer.
In short, they displayed the appropriate attitude of skeptical irreverence that a democracy requires from its’ journalists. What does it indicate for the health of an empire when it’s only the jester that questions the king?
They went on to a kick-ass ride right up until September 11th, went off the air, and spent a few disoriented weeks covering the war, the contraction of civil liberties, and the like. This period was not the strongest in the show’s history – self-consciously acting as the only place you could see Ralph Nader on TV, devoting twenty minutes of the show to foreign policy analysis by beltway types, and so forth. Then ABC announced they were giving Koppel the boot, which pretty much guaranteed Mr. Stewart a shot at the big time on late night network TV, and you could tell that there was a lot of uncertainty on the show.
Once ABC confirmed that they were not gonna turn Koppel out on his ass, the show began to regain some focus, and is beginning to exhibit the combination of sharp-tongued wit and intellectual honesty (cleverly disguised as outright lies) which made it the only decent news source in the entire blighted wasteland of contemporary American media for the last 9 months of 2000.
During the campaign coverage and the first half of 2001, the Steven-Stephen combination gave the show a kind of manic power that is better than gold in TV comedy. Stephen Colbert’s collected and urbane satire and Steven Carells’ eye-bulging, flop-sweating freaky egocentric misanthrope was anchored by Stewart’s genius of delivery and hosting interaction (I don’t think I can call it interviewing, exactly) and the results were killer.
However, ever since the premiere of the FedEx campaign that featured Carell (which I’ve not seen on air lately), Carell’s presence on the show has been quite diminished. Naturally, reasons for screen time are not given in the show; I made a half-hearted effort find an obsessed fansite that would provide stalker-worthy inside poop, but came up dry. I did find the excellent Daily Show site at Comedy Central, and additionally, the video-heavy fansite “the Daily Show Experience”, both linked below.
So, like, where the Hell is Steve Carell? Everyone, together this time: Where the Hell is Steve Carell? Please take the graphic above and disseminate it widely.
A footnote: the square graphic of a cell-phone’s text-message screen was on the Comedy Central site in the context of an ad for a major wireless provider. Someone should clue them in: we’ve had two major, uh, train-wrecks in the last seven days or so.
In poking about for this entry I found these sites of note:
the Daily Show Experience, which has tons of classic clips, including the original John McCain interview, but which, sadly, has not been updated a whole bunch of late.