Stewart: "How do you quell a civil war when it’s not your country?"
McCain: "I’m saying that we’re paying a very heavy price—(drowned out by crowd applause for Stewart’s question)....I think I know whose side they’re on."
Stewart: "No, they’re on America’s side because they’re patriots." (loud cheers and applause)
In the NPR piece Steve Inskeep talks to Mike Murphy, elite consultant, and former campaign manager for Little Mister Sunshine, John McCain. Consider this interchange:
Murphy: "...the media loved John McCain when he stood up and was feisty against the conventional wisdom of the Republican Party, but when he stands up and fights for a war that a lot of the media elite doesn’t like, all of a sudden he’s no longer courageous (smug chuckle). I think that tells me more about the media than about John McCain, and finally—"
Inskeep (interrupting) "Well, let me stop you there for just a second. We’ll get to your final point, but he is strongly supporting not just the war in Iraq, but the way President Bush is pursuing it right now and that’s something that is unpopular way beyond media circles."
I have heard people complain that young people get more of their news from John Stewart than from traditional news sources--no wonder! Notice how Stewart isn't distracted by McCain's cynical ploy of trying to discredit the audience's response by casting it as nothing but dumb group loyalty to the show's host. Stewart promptly skewers this by insisting that what the audience cares about is the state of our country and the rotten leadership running it and the rotten war ruining it. (A leadership that McCain has been pimping for at least since the Bush reelection campaign of '04).
Inskeep, by contrast offers no principled challenge to Murphy's slur on the media. Even a timid reporter could have demanded a definition of "media elite." Who might that be? Fox News, ABC, the New York Times? When Murphy says, "a war that a lot of the media elite doesn’t like" Inskeep could have interrupted to remind him that actually most of the mainstream media has "liked" this war quite a lot, and for several years running has dutifully reported the nonsense of "turned corners" and "progress." He might have asserted that it's not the media or just public opinion that has sunk McCain, but the gruesome reality on the ground--that "civil war" that John Stewart's audience understands is an unwinnable, unmitigated disaster.