During an election wrap-up episode of “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” the results of the midterms are summarized with the equivalent to a shrug emoji. Could have been worse. Could have been a hell of a lot better. But at least they’re (sort of) over.
This article first appeared on Salon.
“I was frightened to turn on the television going into the midterms,” Stewart says in his opening monologue. “The country was on defcon 1.”
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Describing election night as being more of an indie two-hander rather than the explosive action film most were anticipating, Stewart says “on Fox, the bully learned a lesson” when that red wave Republicans threatened ended up breaking on the rocks.
“For months, the media-political industrial complex put us through a high-stakes emotionally manipulative simulation designed to frazzle our nerves and exploit our anxieties,” Stewart says. “Martial law! Red tsunami! Blue tsunami! Criminals and perverts! Dictators and drag queens! A country lost. And it turned out the story of the election was individuals who went to the polls and voted on issues and candidates that they thought best represented their ideals.”
Further on in the episode, Stewart is joined by show writers Kasaun Wilson and Jay Jurden to dive in further on the midterm results.
“I think Herschel Walker said it best,” Jurden said, opening his observations with a look at Georgia. “[He said] ‘If you vote for me, you believe in redemption.’ And that was a big talking point. Every time Walker wanted to bring something up he was like ‘Oh, so my opponent’s gonna say I’m not smart. My opponent’s gonna say I don’t have any experience. He’s right.'”
In terms of how Florida fared in the elections, Jurden takes notice of the fact that Fox News loved “deep ruby red Florida.”
While some states, like Florida, did see excitement with that emphatically threatened red wave, others relied on the drama of the polls going up and down throughout Tuesday night, into Wednesday morning, to provide excitement.
“Polling is a tool for forecasting election results that, we all know by now, can be wildly inaccurate,” Stewart says. “So why is the media constantly reporting on polling? It’s different really for different networks. For the so-called mainstream media, non-speculative information is a bit of a snooze. So the constant up and down of polling adds zazz.”
For the other side, polls are more strategic, Stewart explains.
Cutting to a clip of dramatic news coverage depicting what appears to be a hellscape of rampant crime, where even the festive act of trick-or-treating could lead to near-certain death, Stewart jokes “My god! The streets are awash with tiny out on cashless bail minions coming to your house to kill you and make your candy gay.”
“They’re bending the narratives by reporting on certain things ad nauseam,” Stewart says. And in the instance of the 2022 midterm elections, the veil fell quickly.
Watch a clip from the episode here: