Brilliant Jon Stewart Crossfire appearance

If you can find a rerun of Jon Stewart’s appearance on CNN’s Crossfire today, watch it. The discussion culminated in Tucker Carlson’s expression of disappointment that Stewart was a serious commentator on the media when he said “You’re funnier on your show” and Stewart retorted “You know what is interesting? You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”

Stewart implored Carlson to take seriously his request to remove the political vaudeville from Crossfire and actually encourage thoughtful debate. Unfortunately, the hosts, particularly Carlson, thought they were doing him a favor by having him on to flog his book. Stewart clearly didn’t care about selling his book, America: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, but took the opportunity to confront Crossfire‘s hosts with their insincerity. Carlson responded by treating Stewart like he was an ingrate (Paul Begala just sat there, a little ashamed I think).

It was a beautiful moment of honesty meeting hypocrisy, with hypocrisy failing to communicate. Here’s a little bit of the interview, but you should find the whole thing and watch.

UPDATE: Pkj points to this complete version of the interview at indymedia.com and Jack points to this complete version at ifilm.com.

Author: Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran entrepreneur, journalist and business model hacker. He operates this site, which is a collection of the blogs he's published over the years, as well as an archive of his professional publishing record. As always, this is a work in progress. Such is life.

25 thoughts on “Brilliant Jon Stewart Crossfire appearance”

  1. This is classic Stewart, who offers more meaningful dialog with a smirk than any of the non-deviating script reciters do in the 10 minutes between ‘fair and balanced’ show promos. Stewart: “The show that leads in to mine is a bunch of puppets making crank phone calls.” He knows his place – and it’s to mock the hypocrites. I love this man fully and deeply.

  2. This yelling-at-each-other, lack of respect nonsense started with the McLaughlin Group and spread like a disease. It’s coarsened our political life into a game– no wonder we can’t get anything done.

    I am a conservative Republican in New York, so you know I have a sense of humor. Jon Stewart hit it right on the head. I wasn’t going to buy his book, but now I am, as a symbol of support.

    I think he should get the puppets to call into some of these so-called political shows. Let Chris Mathews yell at a stuffed dummy instead of…well, bad example.

  3. I just rose out of my desk chair and could be heard cheering for Mr. Stewart.
    I tried and tried to send him an email of congrats, but couldn’t find one. PHooey!

    He was perfect and he spoke for me and many others. He was funny,though and that makes him brilliant.

    Just two weeks ago, “Crossfire” on the road interviewed a local Republican mayor (probably godfearing when asked, but, alas not in this instance) as he denied all assertions that Cheney had said that Saddam Hussein and 9/11 were linked. We all know, he said, that VP Cheney never said any such thing….blah, blah, blah, fart-art-aaart, (whew, he sure likes his beans, yikes!)….. and he was allowed to say that and leave it said and no one said, Mr. Mayor if you’re gonna come on our show you can plug your party and your candidate, but you can’t lie. Here, watch these clips and amend your testimony or be booted off our show!

    Jon Stewart, you are my hero!!!

  4. What I loved was how Stewart alluded to the fact that before all else–before being a comedian or a writer–he is a citizen. The Daily Show never billed itself as a serious news show. Can’t say the same for Crossfire. Problem is, the latter is a joke. It’s a sickening trend in this country…the so-called real media has crossed a line and they need to be reigned back in for the simple fact that they do exert quite a bit of pull on the public. Even Matt Lauer is busy lobbing softballs at his Republican guests. Look, someone has to stand up to the media. Somebody who has a forum to do so and a chance to have their voice heard needs to challenge these people. I could care less if that challenge comes from an actor, a comedian, a doctor, a stay-at-home mom…we’re all citizens. And it just so happens that on Friday, October 15th Jon Stewart was a citizen that was heard. And I appreciate what he had to say.

  5. The proof of Stewart’s indictment of CNN and other major media outlets is that very few of them are reporting this story. It was a remarkable moment in TV, but I only saw an article in the Washington Post and one or two others and that was it. Drudge only reported it while trying to discredit Stewart by saying his viewer numbers are slipping. Even if Drudge’s reporting of the ratings numbers is accurate, I fail to see what that has to do with the merits of Stewart’s statements. But since nobody will want to address the real issues… Thank God someone who has brought some attention to the media’s nearly complete failure to fulfill its obligations to the public!

  6. I’m not that articulate, so I will make this short and sweet.

    Ditto to all….

    ….except Jason.

    It is amazing how the media acts as a tool in the political process more than it does anything else. I would advise people my age to watch P. Diddy’s election special before telling them to watch anything on CNN (let alone anything on FOXNEWS).

  7. For a long time it’s been the case that I take a few shots of the Daily Show in place of what would be a burgeonong addictive attempt to “medicate” the current paucity of real news. The nice thing about this “debate”? An injection of common sense. Try to imagine the current political climate without a John Stewart. Got any novocaine?

  8. All of the “real news” organizations are now profit centers for large multinational media conglomerates. Years ago they were lost leaders for stations to keep their licenses. Now editorial decisions are business decisions. These shows now tout their ratings not their quality. The most watched name in news Fox, also has the most uninformed audience. If memory serves one of the journalism schools did a survey on Iraq and more then half of the people who watch Fox as their main source of news got the questions wrong. Interesting how this misinformation aligns with the politics of their head, Roger Ailes a former Republican media consultant. This should surprise no one. The media editorials will always favor the candidate that allows the media companies more monopolistic control. What is surprising is that any company would allow someone like Jon Stewart to point this out. I guess they figure that the short term financial gain from the ratings are more important then the long term implications for the company.

  9. In a weird way, Jon Stewart just being on Crossfire, “A serious debate show”, proves his point.

    The Daily Show is a comedy show. The Emmys it won a few weeks ago were for COMEDY, not news. That the media has dubbed it a “news program” is irrelevant. So Jon Stewart has a much as an obligation to “ask hard hitting questions” on his comedy show as Jay Leno does on his comedy show.

    Problem is we have “News” shows that are really entertainment shows. If Crossfire or any of the others truly cared about having a serious debate, their guests would not be the same pundants from every other show, saying the same exact thing they say on every other show. And they certainly would never book, a comedian there only to tell jokes and plug a book.

  10. I used to watch Crossfire in the early days, when it had Michael Kinsley, and actually featured intelligent commentary and (some) real debate. The idea that Crossfire has denigrated into the current grotesque piss-all-over-the-seat show is a little like the descent of the Republican party from Lincoln to Bush. It’s literally a different, almost unrecognizable mutant, species.

  11. Seeing the hectoring Mr. Carlson being verbally garrotted by his own bow tie on his own show is a public service much to be admired and celebrated. Mr. Stewart finally deployed the killer joke upon these two unwitting gasbags, pundits with no clothes. Unfortunately, Nowak was no doubt tipped by some white house flack and chose to sit this one out.

    Comparing Crossfire to Professional Wrestling, however unfairly impugns the well-earned public reputations of “Val Venus”, “Triple H”, “Rhyno” and other esteemed non-verbal gymnasts. Crossfire would be closer to a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta with all the satire sucked out of it, leaving only cant, prancing and caterwauling.

    I raise a glass in Mr. Stewart’s direction.

  12. just in case the link doesn’t work…here it is

    TV WATCH
    No Jokes or Spin. It’s Time (Gasp) to Talk.
    By ALESSANDRA STANLEY

    Published: October 20, 2004

    here is nothing more painful than watching a comedian turn self-righteous. Unless of course, the comedian is lashing out at smug and self-serving television-news personalities. Jon Stewart could not resist a last dig at CNN’s “Crossfire” during his monologue on Comedy Central on Monday night . “They said I wasn’t being funny,” the star of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” said, rolling his eyes expressively. “And I said to them: ‘I know that. But tomorrow I will go back to being funny,” Mr. Stewart said, adding that their show would still be bad, although he used a more vulgar expression.

    And that is why his surprise attack on the hosts of CNN’s “Crossfire” was so satisfying last Friday. Exchanging his usual goofy teasing for withering contempt, he told Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that they were partisan hacks and that their pro-wrestling approach to political discourse was “hurting America.” (He also used an epithet for the male reproductive organ to describe Mr. Carlson.)

    Real anger is as rare on television as real discussion. Presidential candidates no longer address each other directly in debates. Guests on the “Tonight” show or “Oprah” are scripted monologuists who pitch their latest projects and humor the host. It has been decades since talk-show guests conversed with one another, yet there was a time when famous people held long and at times legendarily hostile discussions (Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. on ABC in 1968, Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman on “The Dick Cavett Show” in 1980).

    Nowadays, live television meltdowns seem to be pathological, not political – Janet Jackson baring a breast during the Super Bowl or Farrah Fawcett babbling incoherently to David Letterman.

    The fuming partisan rants on Fox News or “Real Time With Bill Maher” are aimed at the converted. And celebrities, like politicians, stay on message and stick to talking points, which may help explain the popularity of “Celebrity Poker” – it gives viewers a rare, unfiltered glimpse of stars’ real personalities as they handle a bad hand or a humiliating bluff.

    Mr. Stewart’s frankness was a cool, startling, rational version of Senator Zell Miller’s loony excoriation (“Get out of my face”) to Chris Matthews of MSNBC during the Republican convention.

    The transcript of Friday’s “Crossfire,” and the blog commentary about it, popped up all over the Internet this weekend. Mr. Stewart’s Howard Beal (of “Network”) outburst stood out because he said what a lot of viewers feel helpless to correct: that news programs, particularly on cable, have become echo chambers for political attacks, amplifying the noise instead of parsing the misinformation. Whether the issue is Swift boat ads or Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment suit, shows like “Crossfire” or “Hardball” provide gladiator-style infotainment as journalists clownishly seek to amuse or rile viewers, not inform them.

    When Mr. Carlson took the offense, charging that Mr. Stewart had no right to complain since he had asked Senator John Kerry softball questions on “The Daily Show,” Mr. Stewart looked genuinely appalled. “I didn’t realize – and maybe this explains quite a bit – that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity.” When Mr. Carlson continued to argue, Mr. Stewart shut him down hard. “You are on CNN,” he said. “The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.”

    All late-night talk-show hosts make jokes about politicians. What distinguishes Mr. Stewart from Jay Leno and David Letterman is that the Comedy Central star mocks the entire political process, boring in tightly on the lockstep thinking and complacency of the parties and the media as well as the candidates. More than other television analysts and commentators, he and his writers put a spotlight on the inanities and bland hypocrisies that go mostly unnoticed in the average news cycle.

    Mr. Stewart is very funny, but it is the vein of “a plague on both your houses” indignation that has made his show a cult favorite: many younger voters are turning to the “The Daily Show” for their news analysis, and are better served there than on much of what purports to be real news on cable.

    And of course it was fun just to see television pundits who think they are part of the same media version of the Algonquin Round Table as Mr. Stewart lose their cool when he tore off the tablecloth and shattered the plates. “Wait,” Mr. Carlson said querulously. “I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.” Mr. Stewart was funny. And it was at their expense.

Comments are closed.