Jon Stewart and Rick Santorum: So Happy Together

Lots of people are talking about Jon Stewart's interview with Senator Rick Santorum last night. A bunch of people, including The New Republic, are annoyed that Stewart soft-balled the homophobic Santorum. Having seen Stewart expertly take down sanctimonious conservatives (like Bernard Goldberg) in the past, viewers were relishing a good, clean, thoughtful attack. Instead, Stewart did seem to be playing nice, telling Santorum, "I don't think you're a bad dude. I don't think I'm a bad dude."

But another bunch of people are annoyed that Stewart is being held up to standards beyond those of a satirical news show on a comedy network.

Problem is, Stewart is so good at being the hard-hitting journalist when he wants to, and at taking down people whose reasoning is failed. He fills a huge gap left by the mainstream media, which only gives us soundbites and nice, touch-feely interviews (as witnessed by yesterday's Washington Post online chat with Santorum).

Maybe Stewart is realizing what Larry King and Barbara Walters did -- if you get a reputation for giving interviees a hard time, nobody will come on your show. Or maybe it has to do with the identity of the Daily Show: Should it stick to being a comedic, satirical take on the news and the media, or should it live up to its reputation as the only TV news show that actually takes public figures to task? What do you think?

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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