Then came the inevitable gotcha sound bites: News figures discussing intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s WMD program. Why such a bizarre tangent into an unrelated matter? Because in Stewart’s mind, and those of his viewers, everything has to be the fault of an evil Republican, preferably George W. Bush.

Near the end of the segment, Stewart declares, with the prototypical combination of blustering self-righteousness and sarcasm that crystallizes his appeal to the college mentality, wonders whether the news shows will now start examining the “media malfeasance that led our country into the most catastrophic foreign policy decision in decades.”

Then (using comic bathos) Stewart cuts to more newscasters making apparently trivial points about Williams’ lying. Stewart’s logic is this: The media can’t report negatively on anything anymore, because they dropped the ball on Iraq.

Stewart doesn’t actually believe that: It’s just a cheap gambit meant to get his buddy Williams off the hook by minimizing his serial lying. If Stewart were a public defender, he’d be even funnier than he is as a comic.