As a British parliamentary inquiry delved into the apparent seedy dealings of Rupert Murdoch's media empire on that side of the pond, one American media critic was having a hard time cramming in the jokes between commercial breaks.
Jon Stewart, whose Daily Show specializes in taking the media to task over its efforts to properly hold our community leaders — particularly establishment media — to account, offered this segment.
(Note: Once you get past the uncomfortable chuckling at a semi-joke regarding the issue of a schoolgirl's murder, it gets funnier.)
"There was no moment more remarkable than Murdoch interrupting his son's opening statement," begins Stewart, referring to Murdoch Sr. stopping his son, News International chief James, from addressing the select committee in order to confess: "This is the most humble day of my life."
"Not so humble you couldn't wait for your turn to talk!" reckoned Stewart, who went on to repackage the highlights of what has been two weeks of revelation surrounding the corrupt and potentially illegal practices of Rupert Murdoch's media outlets — namely phone hacking — and the efforts of British police to cover them up.
(GlobalPost reports: Rupert Murdoch calls inquiry appearance his "most humble day", Text of Rupert Murdoch's statement, David Cameron says he regrets hiring ex-Murdoch man, Top U.K. police grilled by British lawmakers over phone hacking)
Stewart went a whole lot further on what he termed "the Troubles" at the heart of Britain's media universe, and eventually linking it all back to Murdoch's significant media holdings in the U.S.
Along the way, he indulges himself in some playful misidentification of the leading characters in what he calls an "epic bribery and influence peddling scandal consuming Britain's political, law enforcement and journalistic establishment."
Predictably, he pokes fun at Rebekah Brooks, editor of the News of the World during the worst of the alleged illegal phone hacking — namely the interception and deletion of messages left on the cellphone of Milly Dowell, later found murdered.
"Poor Mrs Weasley. Wait, no that's not right. Authorities arrested the guy from Simply Red. No, I don't think that's it ..." Stewart jokes, in reference to Brooks' trademark curly ginger bouffant.
Stewart offers begrudging admiration for Wendi Deng, the four-decades-younger wife of Rupert Murdoch who sprang to his defense against a pie-throwing protester at Tuesday's hearing.
Much has been made of the incident and Deng's lightening-fast reaction, with headlines ranging from the pun-ish — "Crouching Tiger, Flying Deng," or "Crouching tiger, hidden pie man" — to the semi-serious — "China lauds 'Tiger mother' Wendi Deng," and even the admiring — "Wendi Deng's Charlie's Angel moment boosts husband's image."
For those interested, Gawker.com offers the "Best Memes to Come Out of ‘The Rupert and Wendi Show'."
On that subject of Deng's "lightening reflexes" in protecting her husband from danger, Stewart opines: "I am not a big proponent of the four-decade age gap but if ever there was a situation when it would pay dividends ... it would be an ambush like that."
However, he does not shy away from the gritty stuff, all the while maintaining a wry smile.
On the untimely death this week of Sean Hoare, the first journalist to allege widespread phone hacking at News of the World, and subsequent statements by the Metropolitan Police that the death was not being treated as suspicious: "Well I guess if the guys who were bribed don't think there's anything suspicious in the death of the guy who blew the whistle on the company providing the bribes ... I'm satisfied."
Stewart happily highlights the many "indulgent puns" carried by the world's newspapers over the phone hacking affair, and the curious absence of any in the Murdoch press. Helpfully, he comes up with a few suggestions.
- "Hackery Dickory 'Doch!"
- "Ginger Snaps"
- "News Corpse"
Stewart does get to the subtext of his monologue: Murdoch's media interests in the U.S., which include Fox News, The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal, but only just. Perhaps that, folks, deserves a whole other Daily Show segment.