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Net Neutrality, Meet Jon Stewart

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What does it take to for Net Neutrality to get national television coverage? It takes an asinine explanation of the Internet by the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Was this picked up on NBC, Fox, CNN or another major news network? Nope. Comedy Central.

A short while ago, Washington Post Online columnist, Richard Morin, brought up the concern that Comedy Central’s The Daily Show host Jon Stewart was breeding a political cynicism among young viewers that was “poisoning democracy.”

Even if Morin missed the concept of “demystification” in media and communication theory that has been around for decades, Stewart showed the world last night that politicians are quite adept at breeding cynicism on their own. Stewart’s just there to pull the punch line out of the air for us.

The July 12, 2006 broadcast of The Daily Show began with a long segment dedicated to exploring the concept of Net Neutrality. After Stewart gets bogged down trying to explain the complicated topic (probably to an audience who’d never heard of it), he defers to 82-year-old Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

If you’ve been following, you’re familiar with Stevens’ diatribe about dump trucks and tubes and “internets” and the internet that took five days to arrive. Just to move things along without describing the entire segment, here’s the juicy part:

Stevens: Ijust the other day got, an Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, I got it yesterday. Why?

Stewart: Why didn’t Senator Stevens get it until yesterday? This is just a little bit of a guess here, but maybe it’s because you don’t seem to know jacksh*t about computers or the Internet. By hey! That’s ok! You’re just the guy in charge of regulating it.

So maybe Morin and the East Carolina University study he cited was right. Stewart’s cynicism is an “enemy of democracy.” Or maybe it’s the politicians that keep youngsters away from the polls. Would you like a glass sandwich or a cactus washcloth? Um, neither, thanks. But you go ahead. I’ll hang back and laugh with Jon Stewart.

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Net Neutrality, Meet Jon Stewart
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