So people didn’t seem to care for Jon Stewart’s coverage of the trillion dollar coin. First, the case in question:
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|The Trillion-Dollar Coin|
So, Ryan Cooper thought “it really sucked,” and Paul Krugman agreed, saying that “if we want this kind of intellectual laziness, we can just tune in to Fox.” Ouch. (Also, there’s a Krugman joke in there somewhere, but, like Stewart, I am intellectually lazy sometimes.) Granted, Cooper and Krugman are bellyaching about a comedy program, but I think they have a point when they argue that in virtually all other cases The Daily Show is good enough with the facts that people take them seriously on that dimension. Myself, I just remember going “ehhhhhhh” when watching the segment since I thought it could have been so much better. For starters, there were in fact some factual errors:
- The government doesn’t have so much of a cash-flow problem as it has a “paying the bill for stuff we already agreed to buy” problem, though I suppose that could be construed as a form of cash-flow problem.
- Interest rates are so low that it’s hard to believe that the world doesn’t have respect for U.S. currency. I get that this sets up the jokes, but so would a line about the lack of respect for government in general followed by a congressional blooper of some sort.
- Even the guy in the clip sounds confused, since the money from the coin wouldn’t be used to pay the debt, but rather interest on the debt and/or other financial obligations.
- I feel like I read somewhere that the coin would be deposited at the New York Federal Reserve, in which case it would be one hell of a trek to walk it over from the Treasury. (Again, news guy’s potential error, not Stewart’s.)
Despite this, my biggest beef is not with the factual shortcomings. Instead, I am peeved that Stewart took something as absurd as a trillion-dollar platinum coin and resorted to inane jokes about blowjobs and penis signatures. Seriously? This is comedy, well, platinum, here. (This is why I don’t write the jokes.) Did he not see any of the absurd media coverage on this? I know that the staffers at least watch Fox News closely, and so they must have seen this bit of fairly comical misinformation. To put it in terms that Stewart can understand, this bit is not exactly an R.A. Dickey knuckleball, it’s a pitch right down the center of the plate that you see in the all-star home run derby. Come on Stewart, you’re better than this.
For the record, Stephen Colbert does better on the platinum coin front, though even he kind of screws the pooch at the end. (See point 3 above.) It’s interesting to note that both Stewart and Colbert rely heavily on outside footage in their segments, almost as though they don’t feel comfortable trying to explain the platinum coin thing themselves. I guess they don’t know that both Paul Krugman and I are more than happy to provide our services.