September 12, 2013

Jon Stewart is a fan of this week’s possible diplomatic solution to the Syria crisis — that is, negotiations backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. Turning to a common whipping post, Stewart hammered various Fox News personalities for, in turn, hammering President Obama for somehow allowing Putin to become such a critical player in resolving the crisis. Stewart played the following snippets from:

Fox News’s Tucker Carlson: “This strengthens Russia and humiliates the United States…”

Fox News’s Sean Hannity: “Vladimir Putin has filled the leadership gap…”

Fox News’s Gretchen Carlson: “Now have we handed the power back to the shirtless Putin?”

Stewart went on to satirize Fox News’s apparent obsession with who gets the credit for finding a way out of the deadlock. Fox News, however, isn’t the only outlet to take an interest in this matter. Here’s what the news pages of the New York Times has to say on the same topic:

Yet suddenly Mr. Putin has eclipsed Mr. Obama as the world leader driving the agenda in the Syria crisis. He is offering a potential, if still highly uncertain, alternative to what he has vocally criticized as America’s militarism and reasserted Russian interests in a region where it had been marginalized since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Although circumstances could shift yet again, Mr. Putin appears to have achieved several objectives, largely at Washington’s expense. He has handed a diplomatic lifeline to his longtime ally in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad, who not long ago appeared at risk of losing power and who President Obama twice said must step down. He has stopped Mr. Obama from going around the United Nations Security Council, where Russia holds a veto, to assert American priorities unilaterally.

Whatever: Stewart played a clip of CNN’s Chris Cuomo wondering whether the Russian proposal “should” change the “entire debate,” and then Stewart went off: “Should it? On the one hand, geopolitical reality just shifted 100 percent, but, on the other hand, we built this graphic [shows CNN's "Crisis in Syria" graphic]! ‘Cause isn’t that the problem now? News networks aren’t invested in right or wrong, they’re invested in momentum. You can take us to war on false intelligence and pretense but god forbid you rev us up for war and you don’t deliver. The one thing we won’t tolerate is a little war foreplay without the payoff.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.