Jon Friedman of the Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch site offers a truly terrible idea: replacing Katie Couric at the mountaintop of CBS News with yuk-yuk Jon Stewart of Comedy Central. He tries to ignore that Stewart might be a good answer to the question "What present TV star suggests even less gravitas than Katie Couric?" That would be the man who writes "Go f*** yourselves" gospel songs for TV. But it turns out Friedman the fanboy asked him for his autograph twice at an event, so he cannot be convinced:
I wonder whether Jon Stewart could ever succeed Katie Couric as the anchor of the "CBS Evening News."
Yes, indeed, I mean THAT Jon Stewart, the witty and charming host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."
I know the arguments against the idea. Stewart is the first to tell anyone who will listen that he is an entertainer, not a journalist. He intends to make people laugh and think, probably in that order.
But what is a journalist, anyway, in 2010? A blogger, who has no experience, can consider himself or herself a serious journalist. So can your garden-variety loudmouth on any cable-news channel....
Then we have Stewart's case. He may just be America's most trusted name in news among his fans, the young, hip, educated, affluent cable audience.
Ridiculous. Did Friedman miss the new CBS/Vanity Fair survey, where The Daily Show landed on the bottom of the most-trusted list?
He may be "hip," but that does not mean that if you put him in Walter Cronkite's chair, he'd be taken seriously. He can't match Dennis Miller in fake-anchorman gravitas. He can't even match forged-document-accepting Rather in gravitas. But Friedman successfully groveled for his autograph, twice:
Stewart has charisma, which may count for more than gravitas. I met him once. He had just finished an interview with Ken Auletta of The New Yorker in which he talked about the news and promoted his best-seller "America."
I asked Stewart to do something that I never had done before -- ask a TV star to give me his autograph. He graciously signed my business card and I moved on, Then, in the lobby, I spotted a huge pile of (free) copies of "America." I grabbed one and got back on the long line.
"Could you sign this, please?"
He peered down at me. "On line AGAIN, I see?" he smirked, the same way he might react playfully to something that, say, Dick Cheney might say. We both laughed and I praised his work on "The Larry Sanders Show." He seemed grateful and thanked me for the compliment.
I'd watch the "CBS Evening News" if Jon Stewart anchored it.
Perhaps if Couric sent over a couple of autographed books, Jon Friedman would change his mind. It doesn't seem to be based on Stewart's actual on-air record, including the profanity and nastiness. Calling Fox News "the lupus of news"? That's not exactly a sensitive joke to people who suffer (and in some cases die) from lupus.