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Jon Stewart’s Disservice

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Relative to: Jon Stewart’s interview with Jonathon Alter on the State of the Union address.

I love Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. That team writes some great political satire, and it almost always has something worth seeing. But there are times when Stewart, maybe in the name of being reasonable, which has of late been a priority of his, has a tendency to downplay very serious issues.

Last night’s show was a great example. While interviewing Jonathon Alter (the link to the video is above), Stewart brought up Obama’s “Sputnik Moment” from the SOTU. The Sputnik Moment that Obama refers to is the need to, essentially, reframe our nation. Invest in clean energy, build a 21st century infrastructure with high-speed rail, high-speed internet, and a better energy grid, invest in clean cars and get people to drive these cars. Serious challenges that will likely define the new American Century. ¬†Challenges that, in reality, probably rival getting an American to be the first on the moon.

But Stewart sees this as a boring challenge. Not interesting, not particularly exciting. Not like a moon landing. Just not that sexy. “It didn’t strike me as a Sputnik Moment,” Stewart quipped, “as much as, say, let’s all change our¬†light bulbs.” Jon Stewart, you can help make this sexy. You influence your audience in a real, practical way. Don’t belittle high-speed internet access in rural areas and electric cars. These are serious problems and solving them will be much more valuable to our future than beating Russia in the space race (at least comparable). So take it seriously, and while we’re at it, take changing the country’s light bulbs seriously too.

**On a side note. There has been quite a bit of teasing of President Obama ‘s pledge to get high-speed internet to %98 percent of Americans. As though somehow this is not an important priority that does not deserve the kind of attention that President Obama gives it.

This is so wrong. Internet means connection to the world, phone service, jobs, services, everything that people like myself take for granted, and think, ‘well I don’t need the internet.’ If you want to see the difference of not having internet, at all, and having it at your fingertips, visit the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and Reservations around the Northwest who have no internet service–there is no profit in providing supremely rural areas with internet service– and what that can mean to a rural community. It is very important, and folks (like myself and most urban/suburban Americans) who have internet at their homes, on their mobiles, at school and work and everywhere should not take for granted the advantage that provides. You may think you don’t need it, but take it away from everyone, and it’s a very real injustice.

Written by Christopher ZF

January 27, 2011 at 11:14