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The Boston Globe

Television

2012 in TV: A year of micro-analysis

We’re solidly in the middle of an age of micro-analysis, especially when it comes to TV. The cable news jabberers obsess over every political squeak and squawk, which made election 2012’s TV commentary particularly noisy. From President Obama’s listless turn at his first debate and Clint Eastwood’s heart-to-heart with an empty chair at the RNC to Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded “47 percent” pitch, the bigmouths had plenty of material to chew on. It was a little addictive, the endless cant, like a giant box of stale popcorn.

In the midst of the noise, I was particularly grateful for the wry eye of Jon Stewart. The funniest analyses of the campaign — emphasis on pain — came from Stewart and his sharp “Daily Show” writers. Stewart was all over the election cycle, teasing interviewee Obama about his debate performance, and later, after the election, cheering about the “Avalanche on [expletive] Mountain” at Fox News when Karl Rove went into a denial spiral as the results poured in. All year long, Stewart rolled his eyes, cursed, and squealed in a really high voice in the name of media absurdity. When the false certainties and the preaching to the converted got old on cable, Stewart was the antidote. Stephen Colbert, too, mocked the squawking on “The Colbert Report,” with nightly scripts about the election that were little Swiftian masterpieces.

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