The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart last night mounted a satirical look at the just-vetoed, anti-gay Arizona bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to others on religious grounds. Toward the end of his extended riff, Stewart cut to a clip of Fox News host Megyn Kelly saying the following: “We hear a lot from folks on the religious right who say they feel religion is under attack and . . . I look at this bill and I wonder whether this bill is a reaction — an overreaction — to people who feel under attack.”
Huh, who could possibly have worked the right into a lather over religious freedom? Uh, Fox News, Stewart concluded. He played a medley of Fox News figures saying that Christianity, Christmas and religion were under attack. “Why would religious people overreact to that constant barrage of apocalyptic paranoia and outrage? God only knows,” said Stewart, musing on the matter, with the Fox News logo behind him.
Herewith the paradox of Fox News punditry. There are some who feel that the network is on a slide culturally and demographically, so it’s best to ignore it. At the same time, Stewart attributes enduring relevance to Fox News, pernicious relevance, to be sure, but relevance nonetheless.