August 11, 2014 4:40 PM EDT

Jon Stewart’s nightly fake-newscast has become a bold, truth-telling Onion of the air for a cynical, disaffected, not-as-ill-informed-as-you-might-think audience. And while we journalists often characterize the show as being about politics, it’s really about us: the show has nailed the reflexive media impulse to rationalize conventional wisdom, to sensationalize, and to reduce everything important to a branded phrase and a dandy graphic. (“Mess O’Potamia,” e.g., for the war in Iraq.) Stewart and company have found the B.S. detector that stenographic media outlets seem to have thrown in the trash, cleaned it off, souped it up, and cranked up its sensitivity to 11.

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