Along the Tracks

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Rating minds

The New York Times website regularly has this ad promoting their Critics' Choice series that wonders, "Do great minds think alike?" In the promo, they show a photo of world-renowned cinema magnate Martin Scorsese; he certainly qualifies as a great mind. Ditto for Lou Reed, the rock pioneer who started with the Velvet Underground in the late '60s and has influenced a wide range of popular music ever since.

But then we seem to hit a "B" list. Peter Jennings? How exactly does a talking head (not the rock band, in this case - they really were great minds!) qualify as a "great mind." What has he ever contributed to the larger culture? Distrust in the media and its bias? Not exactly a well-thought-out plan, assuming it was intentional, considering he depends on the public for his living, and he's helped make them suspicious to the point of NOT WATCHING HIS PROGRAM! If this was all unintentional, that kind of rules out the "great mind" angle, too, doesn't it?

Next up - Jon Stewart. I know what you're thinking, because at first I thought the same thing: "Who the !#%! is Jon Stewart?" Then, far back in the recesses of my mind, I remembered he used to be a "veejay" on MTV, back in the olden days when they played these things called "music videos." That was at least 10 years ago, and I hadn't heard of him since. So, I went hunting for all the grand and wonderful things he'd done since, and found ... well ... he's the present host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. I haven't seen "The Daily Show" in a while - that's why I didn't know he was the host now, obviously - but unless I'm terribly mistaken, it's a comedy/interview show a la "The Tonight Show," but targeted at early evening. Craig Kilborne, a one-time ESPN "Sportscenter" anchor, started that program about five or six years ago, then jumped ship to one of the networks (CBS?) for a more traditional late-night slot. So, I'm guessing Jon Stewart took over for him. Alright, so we've got a former veejay who thinks he's funny, taking over a program started by somebody else, one that practically nobody watches, nobody talks about, nobody notices. That, my friends, passes for a "great mind" at the New York Times.

Now, either America is in the midst of one of the sorryest droughts of mental ability she has ever seen, or the NYT is caught in some liberal, self-important, delusional fog in which they believe they can tell us who is important and who is not, and we'll just follow along like rats behind the piper.

And the media (Jennings included) wonders why we don't trust them, or generally care about what they tell us is "important."

Jon Stewart? JON STEWART?!?!

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