Go to previous post:
“I try to find the words.”

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:

Our Admirable Sponsors

October 15, 2004

Must read. I’m sorry I missed it, but it appears that the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart went onto Crossfire and simply told the truth. The whole transcript is here.

[UPDATE: Public-spirited Wonkette provides a list of places where you can watch or download the actual clip. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.]

[Jon] STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

[Tucker] CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk…

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I’m not going to be your monkey.


[Paul] BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.

CARLSON: I can tell you love it.

STEWART: It’s so—oh, it’s so painful to watch.


STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.

CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?

STEWART: Yes, it’s someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore.


STEWART: I just can’t.

As Digby says:
Stewart is trying to make the point that they are contributing to the dumbing down of the discourse by presenting this fake news, or political theatre, that they pretend is news. He isn’t being funny and he isn’t doing the usual celebrity circle jerk and they are finding it very discomfiting.


[07:33 PM]
Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Must read.:

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 07:44 PM:

My sister just got me America: The Book by Stewart and his crew, and it’s — as you’d expect — both hilarious and depressing. You can tell these folks are very, very angry, and with good reason.

Michelle Sagara ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:17 PM:

Thanks for the pointer -- did anyone actually see the show?

Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:20 PM:

Wow. The whole transcript really is worth reading. I think I'm glad I didn't see it, though. Stewart sounds so pained, and Carlson and Begala are so fucking oblivious.

What a great, real, human perspective, interjected into the spin machine.

Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:27 PM:

I saw the part excerpted while "supervising" installation of a washer/dryer. Carlson really did look discombulated.

Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:28 PM:

Jon Stewart is the only person I've seen who challenged any of the politicals -- Rethug or Democrat -- on anything they said, when he told Rudy Giuliani to his face, after the Veep debate I think it was, that he was, er, full of it. I'd call Stewart a "journalist" except that unfortunately, in the state of American journalism today, it would be an insult.

Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 08:43 PM:

The transcript doesn't do it justice. Here's the web site for the BitTorrent...


Just Bill ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 09:18 PM:

By the way - Comcast has backed down on broadcasting Fahrenheit 911 before the election. Not to exaggerate or anything but this is getting ridiculous - where the hell did my country go?

Tempest ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2004, 11:01 PM:

I've only heard the audio of this, but Jon really did stick it to them. Tucker sounded completely outdone, it was beautiful. Almost as good at Jon vs. O'Rielly.

Greg van Eekhout ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 02:15 AM:

Oh, also Quicktime and Real Media at the URL I posted in the comment above.

David Bilek ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 03:02 PM:

I agree with Will Frank. Just reading the transcript doesn't really give you a good sense of what happened. Everyone was pretty much shocked.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 03:43 PM:

I wouldn't say that everyone was shocked. The audience seemed to appreciate what Jon was doing. Begala and Carlson, however, were totally bested.

Go Jon Stewart! And I'll second David M's endorsement of America: The Book. Just don't read it if you're really depressed.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2004, 09:37 PM:

Marvelous stuff. And Jon Stewart was doing perfect comedy of the Emperor's New Clothes school. Who here hasn't laughed at Tucker Carlson's bow tie? Stewart nailed it as exactly what it is: a character costume prop.

And the analogy that Crossfire is to debate what pro wrestling is to athletics...both priceless and on the money.

Reese Lloyd ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 03:03 PM:

It was just pure, sweet good luck that I tuned into Crossfire, a show I normally avoid. I saw Jon Stewart was going to be on, so I watched. It was the best TV moment of the entire election! Calling Tucker Carlson a dick was one of the most satisfying things ever said on that show. Go, Jon: you're my hero!

Mr Bill ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2004, 04:51 PM:

More telling,perhaps, is that CNN had given up on CROSSFIRE when they moved it out of the 7 EST slot to 4:30, and cut it to a half hour.
And, at least, pro Wrasslin" (as opposed to Wrestling) is scripted and choreographed as the Ballet.

sarahlee ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 02:18 AM:

I watched it and was busy IM'ing people to turn it on as it was happening. Jon was good. And it should sell more of his books - which is a lot of what he was after. [And I am happy for that, 'cause I really do like him.]

This was not a new lecture for him. Remember this from when he was on CNN in Feb. 2000:

---quote talking about Fox vs CNN ---

STEWART: But the thing about CNN is, you guys actually say you can depend on CNN. That's why I'm more upset with you than I am with them.

KURTZ: You hold CNN to a higher standard.

STEWART: Exactly. I expect that from them. From you guys, I'm upset -- what I don't understand is why you guys, with the talent and the credibility and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) would want to take a page out of their playbook. Why wouldn't you want to take a page out of the more credible? Why wouldn't you go towards the other -- why would you go louder when you could go smarter?

KURTZ: Now, you are now part of the CNN family.

STEWART: No, I'm not.


KURTZ: I could host "CROSSFIRE."

STEWART: Well, yes, you could host "CROSSFIRE." What's that got to do with journalism? I mean, that's just a couple of knuckleheads. I mean, the promo for that is Bob Novak in a boxing outfit. I mean, for God's sakes, somehow I don't imagine Edward R. Murrow ever putting on the satin robe and going, "I'll destroy you."


KURTZ: So you don't, you're not confusing yourself with a quote, "real journalist"?

STEWART: No. You guys are...

KURTZ: You're just making fun...

STEWART: You guys are confusing yourselves with real journalists.

KURTZ: Oh boy, you're loaded (UNINTELLIGIBLE) today.

STEWART: Instead of putting on shows like "CROSSFIRE" and "Gotcha" and "I'm Going To Kick Your Ass With Tucker Carlson" and "Let's Beat Up The Short Guy." That was just one that I...

KURTZ: I'm glad you're at least watching so much CNN, Jon.

STEWART: I am watching it constantly. It's driving me insane. Make the ticker stop. You're in the middle of a damn sniper story, and all of a sudden underneath it, you know, "Liza Minnelli's first VH1 show to air."

KURTZ: There's a new thing out called...


KURTZ: There's a new thing out called remote control. We'll have to get you one.

STEWART: But you're the news. That works for entertainment. People need you. Help us. Help us.

KURTZ: Thank you for making us feel needed, Jon Stewart. Thanks for sharing.


Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 04:27 AM:

There's a bit more of the story from a few years ago. Before the previous election, Jon Stewart said many things in the same vein to Tucker Carlson:

Larry King Live
A Panel Serves up Their Opinions on the News of the Day
Aired May 10, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

STEWART: Feed some people, probably my family.

Can I ask you a question though, Larry?

KING: Yes.

STEWART: Why does Tucker get to where a bow tie, because I know he's not Nation of Islam?

KING: We'll ask that of him in a minute. Tucker looks great tonight after getting out of Vietnam.


KING: That's Tammy Faye. And let's ask Tucker Carlson, why do you where bow ties?

TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Salam alaykum. I don't know. I just always have. You don't spill toothpaste on them.

GOLDBERG: I always knew you were a brother, Tucker.

CARLSON: Well, thank you, Whoopi. I am in a way. I don't know why. I actually once did a story on the Nation of Islam, and they sort of welcomed me in a way I don't think they would have otherwise.

KING: And you tie them? They're not clip-on, right?

CARLSON: Are they clip-ons?

KING: Yes, clip-ons.

CARLSON: I'm not even registering that question it's so deeply offensive. No, no, of course, I tie them, not very well, but kind of.

KING: They're hard to tie. For the person who wears long ties, bow ties are a difficult...

CARLSON: Yes, it's sort of a daily dexterity text, but I pass.

STEWART: I'm wearing a dickey.


STEWART: It's the same -- that's where your role models went. They're all the same people.

What I'd like to say to Tucker is, you know, what about the integrity of the media? Now, you guys...

CARLSON: Ooh, the media, oooh!

STEWART: ... who are pundits -- or just pundits. Forget about the media. You, let's say. Just you.


STEWART: Credibility is, in terms of being part of the free press, an awful large aspect of people's respect for you, right?


STEWART: You have to have credibility...

CARLSON: Of course.

STEWART: ... so people know they have the integrity. So is your private life also in the same way? Should people know as much about the people who give us our news and analyze our news...


STEWART: ... as they do about who runs our government?

CARLSON: That's a very deep question, Jon.

STEWART: And the second point is...

MESSNER: Very good.

STEWART: ... if I thought it was about information, if I thought you were just trying to collect information so I could make a more informed judgment on my candidates, I would welcome it. But what I feel like you're doing is selling papers and getting ratings, and that's all it is.

MESSNER: Amen! Amen! Amen!

STEWART: And it doesn't feel like it has any integrity to it.

CARLSON: See, I -- this...

Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2004, 06:15 PM:

Watching it does give a different perspective than reading the transcripts. (My father just sent me a grainy copy of it.)

Jon Stewart sounded a lot like I feel about the entire political process lately.

James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 12:52 PM:

Just thought I should chime in that if anyone did not see Jon Stewart on the Daily show last night, you're missing out. He's getting much, much more aggressive (in a good way, I think) about this over the last year or so, and he seems willing to put it right out in the open now.

Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 02:35 PM:

Missed it, but thanks for the heads-up: Set the Tivo clone to record the repeat of last night's episode at 4 today. Even east coasters still should have time to catch it.

And here is the news of Tucker's tepid return attack:


Adina ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 05:15 PM:

Just so you know, The Daily Show is on at 11pm (East Coast time) with repeats at 1am, 10am, and 7pm. I generally tape it at 10am, because the 1am show is consistently interrupted on my cable system by tests of whatever they're calling the Emergency Broadcast System these days.

Simone Bombaste-Quotidien ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2004, 11:34 PM:

Tucker Carlson has an "Ask Tucker" page at PBS. I very much want to ask him if he knows the meaning of

(1.) QED

(2.) perverse effects

but fear it would be mistaken for an obscene message.

Odd that it got headlined as a Stewart-Carlson "feud." Was that deliberate misconstruction or one more media action figure demo (wind them up and they miss the point)

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 07:39 AM:

GGNNnnnnn.... <frustration> Had a look recently at the Australian SBS television website feedback page. It hasn't just been me hassling them about bringing back The Weekly Daily Show. (Assuming the full-strength Daily Show doesn't get overseas at all.)

It's been very irritating to read all the good reviews & comments on what they've been doing.

<picture goes all wavy> Remember hearing about all those soapie fans who would mail up-to-date tapes of General Hospital or whatever to us in The Outer Darkness who were months & years behind? <picture goes back to normal>

You'd think that these days that sort of thing would not be needed. Perhaps there is a secret "Daily Fix" group here in Oz with contact Over There? <rousing music> I should investigate.

Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 11:50 AM:

This morning's San Francisco Chronicle had Tim Goodman (their TV critic, and one of the better things about the Chronicle) capering with glee over Stewart's "smackdown" of Carlson.

"There hasn't been anything that refreshingly blunt since, well, the vice presidential debate, but it was the perfect example of television being unpredictable and dangerously unmanaged. The "Daily Show" host clearly wasn't there to promote his book (though sales will probably rise because he got to call Carlson a word that starts with a "D" and is slang for penis -- not your everyday convivial repartee on TV). And Stewart wasn't there to be glib, though as the funniest man on the planet, he was by default (when Carlson told him to be funny he replied, "I'm not going to be your monkey")."

"No, he was there -- and this is the odd part -- to take on Carlson and Paul Begala head-on, as he's ripped them on his show and elsewhere. It was weirdly heroic -- Stewart using his power to do what thinking people across the country would love to do, namely call out media members as pawns in the game. Stewart views "Crossfire" and other shows as "theater," not journalism. He's certainly right there, although he's not exactly breaking news with this revelation. What's interesting is that he woke up, put on his pants and decided to mock them openly as a sort of chiding slap in the face. "Stop hurting America," he said, as only he can."

I got Danny America: The Book for his birthday, and he left it here while on a trip. I am exercising terrific control not to read it before he does, Honor is tough.

SkullWolf ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2004, 08:11 PM:

As for getting the Daily Show in "The Outer Darkness", I would suggest the internet ;).

That's suprnova's Daily Show directory, for all you bittorent fans out there. That's where I got the crossfire episode, too.

Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2004, 01:54 PM:

I finally caught this last night. Read the transcript, then watched the stream on iFilm.

What strikes me most is the disconnect between his words and his expression. In the transcript, he comes off angry and fiery. On the screen, he looks tired and sounds more depressed than angry. He struck me as a man who knew he was fighting a pointless battle, but wanted to make a good showing for form's sake.

Carlson had one valid point. Stewart does show a lot of favoritism to his liberal guests. He's way too easy on them, while being appropriately tough on everyone else. His answer -- "We're a comedy show, you guys aren't" -- rings hollow when he's clearly doing the job Crossfire should be doin some of the time. If he'd just be more consistent about it, I think he'd have a lot more credibility when he slams the serious people.

Have Fun,
- Steve Eley

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2004, 03:04 AM:

His answer -- "We're a comedy show, you guys aren't" -- rings hollow when he's clearly doing the job Crossfire should be doin some of the time.

That this seems the case is Crossfire's shame, but that doesn't make it now Stewart's responsibility to pick up Crossfire's slack. He is perfectly correct to assert that the business of journalism is not his, but Carlson's, and that Carlson is failing to do his job, and that no amount of reverse finger-pointing on Carlson's part, in an effort to obscure that point, will magically make Carlson less responsible for his own inadequacy.

James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2004, 01:25 AM:

The Daily Show will be on an hour early -- at 10 pm Eastern time -- on Tuesday, 2 November.