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About (Late) Last Night: Jon Stewart argues for release of Bin Laden death photos

May 5, 2011 |  9:18 am

 

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On Wednesday night, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart voices his support for releasing photos of Osama bin Laden's body -- something that President Obama has vowed not to do.

But unlike many other commentators, Stewart does not belief the photos should be published in order to pacify the conspiracy theorists.  "A photo will end the speculation, just like the Zapruder film put a rest to all that JFK business," he said sarcastically.

Stewart was also skeptical of concerns about how "gruesome" the photo is, given the violence that is an everyday part of our popular culture. "Too gory ... yeah ... have you met us? From 8 p.m. on, every show on television that we watch begins with an internal tracking shot of a gaping wound above someone's eye, pulling out to reveal half a hooker in a dumpster discovered by a child on a bicycle. You know what we call it? 'Prime time.'"

He also questions the idea that the picture -- or, as he calls it, "the headshot of Osama's head shot" -- might inflame animosity in the Muslim world. The extremists already hate the United States, he said, and what's more, they see violent images on a regular basis.

"I don't know if you know this, but the Muslim world sees pretty graphic images of the people we kill, accidentally or on purpose, all the time. Jarring, huh?" he asked, cutting to some explicit Al Jazeera footage. "Sometimes they don't even have to see it on TV. It's just out the window."

Stewart declared that the best reason for releasing the pictures is that "we can only make decisions about war if we see what war actually is." If anything, the American people are far too insulated from images of war and suffering. "Thousands of U.S. deaths, tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis have died, and we've seen nearly zero photographic evidence of it," he said. "Remember how long the media had to fight to show military coffins returning from overseas? You probably don't remember because you saw pictures the day they won the fight and not since. Maybe we should always show pictures."

In recent years, Stewart has blurred the line between pundit and satirist, regularly striking a more serious tone on "The Daily Show," as he did Wednesday night. Stewart did, however, end on a lighter note. He joked that in order to keep the photo a secret, "[The White House] was going to air-drop it into an affluent Pakistani suburb, so it won't be found for years."

So, do you agree with Stewart?

-- Meredith Blake

twitter.com/MeredithBlake

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