Jon Stewart Crosses Crossfire Host

Posted on October 20, 2004 
Filed Under Uncategorized

I love Jon Stewart. In the early days of the Internet, I used to go to Comedy Central on my turtle-slow 14.4 Kbps modem to painfully and patiently access the site just to watch the Daily Show.

Thank god ‘The Daily Show: Global Edition’ is now on Astro, the satellite cable service in Malaysia, even at an unearthly hour on CNN, which sometimes shunts his segment for supposedly more urgent news.

Stewart is the ultimate maverick — the comedic journalist, or the journalistic comedian. He beats Letterman and Leno because much of his style doesn’t seem contrived or set up, and even when it is — it’s funnier than most the old guys’ stuff.

He was on Crossfire swinging away recently over the stupid American press still believing they are objective when the whole world sits back and laughs. Is Jon Stewart the ONLY ONE in America who knows otherwise?

Here’s the excerpt:

“I watch your show every day, and it kills me. It’s so painful to watch,” Stewart added as it became apparent that the comedian was not joking. He went on to hammer the network, and the media in general, for its coverage of the presidential debates. Stewart said it was a disservice to viewers to immediately seek reaction from campaign insiders and presidential cheerleaders following the debates, noting that the debates’ famed “Spin Alley” should be called “Deception Lane.”

“The thing is, we need your help,” Stewart said. “Right now, you’re helping the politicians and the corporations and we’re left out there to mow our lawns.”

While the audience seemed to be behind Stewart, Begala and Carlson were both taken aback. The hosts tried to feed Stewart set-up lines hoping to draw him into a more light-hearted shtick, but Stewart stayed on point and hammered away at the show, the hosts, and the state of political journalism. Carlson grew increasingly frustrated, at first noting that the segment wasn’t “funny,” and later verbally sparring with the comedian.

“You’re not very much fun,” Carlson said. “Do you like lecture people like this, or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they’re not doing the right thing, that they’re missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities?”

“If I think they are,” Stewart retorted.

The conversation reached its most heated moment when Carlson said to Stewart, “I do think you’re more fun on your show,” to which Stewart replied, “You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”

Great one Jon! I also got a kick reading your interview with Bill Moyers who I so respect for leading me to discover Joseph Campbell.

Excerpt from the Moyers-Stewart exchange:


MOYERS: I do not know whether you are practicing an old form of parody and satire.

STEWART: Uh-huh.

MOYERS: Or a new form of journalism.

STEWART: Well then that either speaks to the sad state of comedy or the sad state of news. I can’t figure out which one. I think, honestly, we’re practicing a new form of desperation. Where we just are so inundated with mixed messages from the media and from politicians that we’re just trying to sort it out for ourselves…..

And:

STEWART: I think of myself as a comedian who has the pleasure of writing jokes about things that I actually care about. And that’s really it. You know, if I really wanted to enact social changeā€¦ I have great respect for people who are in the front lines and the trenches of trying to enact social change. I am far lazier than that.

I am a tiny, neurotic man, standing in the back of the room throwing tomatoes at the chalk board. And that’s really it. And what we do is we come in in the morning and we go, “Did you see that thing last night? Aahh!” And then we spend the next 8 or 9 hours trying to take this and make it into something funny….

Surveys suggest that many Americans now get their news via late-night shows such as Stewart’s. He represents a new kind of journalism, the kind that expects you to respect your audience’s intelligence but make it entertaining as well. Thanks Jon for giving us journalists the heads up and showing us that we not only have to have a dick — but balls to go with it.

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