August 25th, 2008
03:34 PM ET
15 years ago

Jon Stewart lectures reporters on coverage

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Jon Stewart met with political reporters in Denver Monday."]DENVER (CNN) – As Comedy Central's "Daily Show" descends on Denver for four days of coverage, Jon Stewart took after the "established" media for getting too cozy with candidates and regurgitating campaign spin when it comes to political coverage.

In a breakfast with reporters, Stewart directed most of his ire at the 24-hour cable news networks, which he called "gerbil wheels," and said the media at-large had "abdicated" to what he called the "slow-witted beast."

He said the never-ending television news cycle creates a "false sense of urgency" and forces reporters to "follow the veins that have been mined," instead of pursuing serious and in-depth reporting.

Even as Stewart shredded reporters for, in his estimation, getting too cozy with and used by political candidates, he readily admitted that candidates flock to his show to attract his much sought after younger audience. "It's just one part of their sales pitch," he said.

Stewart said he found neither Sens. McCain or Obama particularly funny and it was "absolutely irrelevant" which one takes the White House because "the jokes will be there." He dismissed criticism that comedians are having a hard time joking about Obama because of his race and said "the age joke with McCain is somewhat meaningless because it's already trite."

The choice of Joe Biden as Obama's runningmate, Stewart said, was refreshing because of the Delaware senator's large personality and endless possibility for jokes. "Biden is really nice. His style is so effusive and unguarded," Stewart said. "He's emotion plus."

Stewart said politicians in recent campaigns are "animatronic" because all of the "humanity has been managed out of campaigns." He referenced the back-and-forth during the Pennsylvania Democratic primary over Obama's lack of bowling skills.

"It's stunning where this election is going to be decided on," he said. "Or what we allow it to be decided on."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (264 Responses)
  1. David Stein

    So true. Come to Canada to learn a lesson. The media are intelligent, sharp and give politicians the roughest ride. Love being in Canada!

    August 25, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. Todd, Lancaster PA

    AWESOME.. Someone who gets it!!!

    Report facts and policy, not just spin and political cheap shots.(ON BOTH SIDES)!!!

    August 25, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Ahhhh, Jon Stewart. Along with Colbert and Olbermann, reminders that there is intelligent life in the universe.

    August 25, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Chris, Denver CO

    It is really sad when the only person in this whole national media conversation who talks any sense is a comedian!

    August 25, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  5. Rob Kole

    We have a comedian telling the media how they should behave....

    Morrow, Cronkite and the rest of the old time reporters must be rolling over.

    August 25, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. Kiboko

    "Gerbil Wheels"! I love it!

    Stewart '08!

    August 25, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Alyce

    Finally a grown up in the media.
    Maybe he should be the new host of Meet The Press!!!

    August 25, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. Ken

    Right on Mr. Stewart. The kind of shallow idiocy within our electorate, fostered by the MSM, that allowed Bush to be elected in 2000, and then even more ignominiously elected in 2004, should not go uncriticized. McCain is counting on the very same kind of shallow idiocy, maybe we'll call it neo-idiocy.

    August 25, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Steve

    "He said the never-ending television news cycle creates a 'false sense of urgency' and forces reporters to 'follow the veins that have been mined,' instead of pursuing serious and in-depth reporting."

    Case in point: the concentration on the PUMA-tards.

    It really is sad that one of the very few people in the corporate media worth trusting on these issues is the guy with the "fake news show".

    August 25, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. Pratti

    Why is this article filed under Barack Obama and Jon Stewart. McCain was mentioned in the article but he was not tagged? Another case of media bias ???

    August 25, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. Travis

    Finally someone to call it what it is.....

    ARE YOU LISTENING CNN?......go back to basic journalist school

    August 25, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Salina

    He's right, the media is disgraceful and shameless. Its no longer about reporting the facts, its about thier mindless opinions, talking points, and entertainment. I stopped watching FOX-FIXED news long ago but now CNN and MSNBC are falling into place. There's no credibility. Its shameful.

    August 25, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. CC from Chicago

    Spot on Jon! The media is the fool maker in the whole process, in their effort to make news instead of reporting items that will actually benefit us instead of bowling abiity and useless polls.

    August 25, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. Jim

    Is this true CNN you guy's are using old numbers and lieing about the 5% to make it seem like an I need to look into this because I trusted you over the like's of fox news, if this is true I'm going over to msnbc.

    August 25, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  15. Why do you hate me?

    God Bless Jon Stewart. Maybe he should run for President.

    August 25, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. Ken Kaplan

    NEWS ?
    Are you a news group or a talk show? Stop with the analyst already! Unless you are promoting your candidate why am I not hearing hard news instead of gossip? Have the American people become that brain dead were entertainment is more important than real news?
    There is so much happening on this small planet run by children fighting for oil and power. As America expands there power demanding others follow stritc Human Rights while at the same time violating those same Rights with tourcher and abuse of Justice. There are a few other Super Powers out there, what are their ambitions and goals. Not our view, but an honest view from them.
    All countries whitewash their news to reflect accepted views for that region. I find it very enlightening to read all opinions in order to see the real picture on what is happening. I see hope, yet those over grown children that run governments are marching us to a painful future. We could have a city on the Moon if it wasn’t for world greed.
    Well that my opinion, now you can dump it into the Recycle Bin
    Ken Kaplan

    August 25, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |

    How interesting the turns of events were on the 21th of August and none of the major news outlets noted it.
    John McCain has touted his foreign Policy experience and awareness from the beginning of his campaigning while at the same time tried to categorize Senator Obama as inexperienced and lacked judgment.
    John McCain has also touted Senator Obama as an elitist.
    John McCain self-admittedly stated he knew very little about the economy.
    John McCain called Senator Obama inexperienced because of Obama’s reaction to the Georgian crisis.
    John McCain has stated that he is a maverick and fights against Washington insiders.
    Well on 21 August 2008 John McCain failed on all of his points.
    John McCain has been calling Senator Obama irresponsible about Obama’s willingness to set a timetable for US troop removal in Iraq. On 21 August 2008 the Bush administration along with the Iraqi government has signed the first phased timetable agreement for US troop removal of Iraq. John McCain is now 100% wrong in his position to continue fighting a war that both America and Iraq wants to end.
    Also on 21 August 2008, the US military has issued a notification that there will be 11,000 more troops sent to Afghanistan. This is the follow-up to Senator Obama’s push for troop increase in Afghanistan that he has been making for month. This also follows John McCain’s error in judgment that Afghanistan did not need any help. A supplemental note to that is John McCain stated Senator Obama was wrong for wanting to curtail troops from Iraq to Afghanistan because the US had plenty of available force to deploy to Afghanistan. However, the top military official Admiral Mullen stated that the military had no spare troops to deploy anywhere. Once again John McCain is wrong.
    John McCain has been trying to label Senator Obama as an elitist. Senator Obama has one home (which he purchased at a sweet deal that some find questionable – 1.5 million estimated value). John McCain has at least seven homes of which he did not know (estimated total value of 13 million dollars). John McCain jokingly said (so he wants us to believe) that in America you are rich when you make at least 5 million dollars. Senator Obama said 250,000 dollars per income is a good start, the national average income hovers around 31,000 per year. So now who is the elitist?
    During the start of the Russian-Georgian conflict, John McCain came out publicly with a detailed counter attack strategy for the Russian aggression in Georgia. Senator Obama stated his position and left it there. John McCain accused Senator Obama of being out of touch in America’s foreign policies because he did not attack Russia. Well John McCain forgot he was not the President of the US when he made his bullish statements, then the Georgian President called him out but John McCain did nothing. Whose judgment was best, Obama who allowed the President of the US to do the President’s job, or John McCain who made promises he could not support?
    John McCain on the economy – John McCain touts that he has fought big oil his entire career. It seems that every other day he is posing and campaigning in an oil field, rid, or platform. John McCain talks about drilling now, even after admitting that the best scenario is improved psychological confidence (and 200,000 barrels per day added to the global pool in five to ten years). Even if we increase the supply by 5 million barrels per day, oil will still be sold at market price.
    John McCain still fails to rid his campaign of the lobbyists he claims to have fought for the last 26 years as a public servant (a very loose use of this description). The once favorable label of maverick has long left John McCain. The only thing maverick about him is that his has more Bush cronies in his camp than Bush originally had.
    After all these failures of John McCain, one has to ask himself what can John McCain for America. Anyone seriously considering voting for John McCain needs to himself why. Is it because Senator Obama is that bad or is John McCain that safe?

    August 25, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. karen-phoenix

    Thank you Jon Stewart!!! I've started watching C-Span just because of the pundents arguing and stiring up trouble!!! Time to send Obama some more MONEY $$$$$ Love being part of his campaign this way and I'm an OLD republican who NEVER sent a republican money!!!! McCain will bring back the draft and we will be in wars for 50 years!!! McCain is NOT getting my kids or grandkids!!!

    August 25, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. REG in AZ

    What I seek is an honest, transparent, fair, equitable and responsible government that represents all of the people. The Republican Party has currently clearly demonstrated that not one of those things is of interest to them; they simply arrogantly and aggressively pursue a private agenda to benefit Special Interests and a select few, those who return support, contributions and later kickback compensation, and they then give the average American only apathy, the costs and subterfuge. If you are one of the few, you probably are happy with Bush-Cheney-Rove-etal and feel good about continuing with more of the same. However, if you are not of that small group, which most of us aren’t, you may think you are, which many do, and then you are part of the problem. The Republicans have deceptively appealed to us using negative attacks, false accusations, exaggerations, distortions of the terms ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ and with efforts to excite our emotions over biases, prejudices and even religious beliefs; all efforts intended to confuse the reality of things. The only way to really understand is to look at your own status: are you better off today with more security and more spending power; are you satisfied with the Iraq War or do you believe it was falsely justified, falsely reported, has cost us too much and greatly benefited only a select few; do you feel the War on Terror has been neglected in favor of positions that benefit the few; do you feel too much has been neglected, like America’s infrastructure, education, medical costs, Global Warming and so on; do you feel that we are handicapping future generations, our children and grand children, with deficits and the current concentration on immediate gratification for the wealthy and powerful; do you feel the Bush administration has been consistently lying to us and so on. The Democrats are not perfect either but just noting how the Republicans focus on the meaningless garbage and avoid the issues, tells a story; they have literally developed dirty-politics into their art form. How can they seriously fault a lack of experience when their pride and joy was a movie actor and while McCain has a lot of time in as a Senator, there simply is still nothing impressive? Then there are the attacks on Obama because of those who are mere acquaintances and yet McCain was the one actually investigated during the Keating scandal and likely was excused only because he cooperated. No, it is really time for change, desperately needed change. Change from Bush-Cheney (-McCain) and change from Washington as usual (which is something Hillary didn’t offer). More of the same is really nothing but more negatives and even just a chance for change is what we really need!

    August 25, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. Martin Agnew

    Absolutely right on! The media parrots the press releases without critical analysis. The media personalities set themselves up as commentators and experts, but their opinions are special only to themselves and their buddy journalists.

    Hard-nosed news gathering and analysis is gone. Critical thinking in the media is gone. Unfortunately there seems no way to bring such practice back.

    August 25, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. deb

    right on jon stewart!! it's a sad state of affairs when you get more truth out of a late nite comedian than from the traditional news media.

    August 25, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. bert

    He can't find anything to say about Obama other than race because he is a racist. There are plenty of lighthearted things to say about anybody and if he can't think of any, he is not that good of a comedian. The fact that he does not care who wins shows you just how out of touch this guy is. I don't have anything against rich people, I just have something against stupid one's. Vote for Obama in 08 and 2012.

    August 25, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Rick FL

    Jon Stewart tells it like it is.

    I have to admit being disappointed in CNN, as it seems to be more of tabloid journalism. I stopped watching Fox News for that very reason. CNN, please report the news and quit with the inciting spin. Your viewers would appreciate it.

    August 25, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Vancouver, BC

    Canadian journalists also see their role as questioning the person being interviewed objectively and respectfully and don't find it necessary to have a balanced "panel" of party hacks that basically yell over each other with pandering slogans. Nor do journalists, like many on American media, think that their ego and agenda is more important than the person they are interviewing. I miss Tim Russert!!!

    Will watch the coverage of the convention on Canadian news !!

    August 25, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. Luis

    August 25th, 2008 2:21 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Obama/Biden, Socialism you can believe in, LOL

    All you Zombies for the false messiah will need crying towels in November. The majority of American people (55-60%) will wait until judgement day and show CNN and the mainstream media the consequesnces of insulting their intelligence by creating this media idol. No experience, no judgement, questionable dealings and a product of Chicago politics. I am from Chicago and know all about Barry Obama.

    Nice try Obamites, but it ain't gonna happen………peace out! LOL

    August 25, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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