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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