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. TonyS

    Right on Jon. We are the change we have been waiting for.

    August 25, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    He speaks the truth. Are you listening, CNN?

    August 25, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  3. EMJ

    Anyone who can't see Fox News is a Republican organization is brain dead. I was hoping CNN would be the real 'fair and balanced' news but saw a large slant towards Hillary. CNN is so scared their going to miss out on a story, they blindly follow 'anything' the McCain camp says. Doesn't matter if it's true, we just don't want to get the fake story out there last! Fox is McCain, CNN now goes with anything from the Republican attack machine, and again, WHERE IS THE VETTING OF JOHN MCCAIN???? Let's here about his long senate record, his trying to vote down the MLK holiday, the Keating 5, ... CNN WHY does MCain get a free ride but no negative story on Obama is ignored?

    August 25, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  4. Jennifer

    He is so right. I have thought for some time that CNN is in the same league as Fox News, and that is not intended as a compliment.

    August 25, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  5. Mark

    The sanest voice in this election....Jon Stewart. Hopefully the MSM puppets were actually listening when he made his speech.

    August 25, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. bernj

    CNN is airing false information about their so called poll of polls. The margin of error is gigantic. This kind of deliberate misleading of the public is reprehensible. Looks like Fox all over again. CNN you should be ashamed.

    August 25, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people." -H.L. Mencken

    More true today than it was when he wrote it...

    August 25, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  8. Political Junkie

    Kudos to Jon Stewart for saying like it is!!!
    Its downright disgusting to watch how all the media outlets spew out one sided garbage instead of being the independent and impartial observers they need to be.
    Hope the media will soon wise up and report on the issues in a fair and accurate manner instead of being campaign mouth pieces!

    August 25, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  9. Dan, Maryland

    John Stewart for president 2016.

    Unfortunately, a comedian recognizes the responsibility of the news media long before the producers and talking heads ever will. It's time for the media to actually do their jobs. Report ont he issues, report on the platforms of each candidate. Study the candidate's plans and report on them. Explain to the average American what the numbers would be, what the plan would look to do. The news needs to get out of the horse race mentality and catch up with what the people want to hear, the facts.

    August 25, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. Mussmelon

    Sadly in this country the most honest and forthcoming place to get your news are sources like Stewart, Colbert, Bill Mauer. Watch a documentary once and a while people. You might just learn that you don't have it all figured out yet. Life is a continued process. You don't stop learning when you graduate (although it seems like some do) you need to continue to educated yourself.

    Think for yourself, question authority.

    August 25, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. JB from NH

    Jon should host a Presidential debate!

    August 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. JB, Boston

    It is the giant elephant in the room. All news organizations are driven by viewers or listeners. More of them increases the amount of money they make.

    What drives viewers in the US? Tabloid news. That is why TMZ is getting so big. Therefore, the more tabloidesque the better they do. As a result, the news is starting to morph into TMZ. Treating their politicans like celebrities.

    It is a road we shouldn't travel. The argument that certain organizations should not be public(and therefore responsible to their stockholders) is valid as far as I am concerned. News organizations and Healthcare should not be driven by earnings, but by satisfied customers.

    August 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Obamalism

    McCain compares to Bush about as much as Obama does. All you fools that repeat the McSAME mantra over and over are showing what moronic hypocrits you are.

    We get it, NO ONE really likes Bush. The republicans never really liked him either...just more than Kerry or Al 'lockbox' Gore.

    I honestly laugh at all the Obamatards that are voting for Barack because they hate Bush... That like me voting for McCain because I don't like Bill Clinton.

    I'm sorry, but I'll take the politician that doesn't talk out both sides of his mouth, change his opinion based on weekly polls or vote near 100% along party lines. Hope and Change means NOTHING to me.

    I'll take someone with a record that I can judge over a community organizer with nice speeches everytime.

    August 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. Obama/Biden 08

    You tell them, Jon! You're probably the best television reporter out there (besides perhaps Jim Lehrer), so stick it to 'em!

    August 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Peter

    It is sad that it takes a comedian to tell the news media what is wrong with them. That whirring noise is Edward R. Murrow spinning in his grave. (Note to 20-something cable news vice presidents who don't know who Edward R. Murrow is: see Wikipedia.)

    August 25, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. Hill Supporter

    Stewart is so highly overrated. Why does he invite politicians? He is part of the same old spin that he accuses everyone else of. My husband thinks Stewart’s funny and relevant; I think Stewart’s full of himself that way Obama is. That’s why I don’t watch him.

    August 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Vincent VDW

    Go Obama.

    August 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Anonymous


    August 25, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. Steph

    Obama made a great choice. Biden was my 1st choice for President and I voted for Hillary in the primary election but I feel fortunate in that I believe Obama, Clinton & Biden to all three be excellent choices for the Presidency for differing reasons.
    Those who aren't voting now or are voting for McCain simply because they didn't get their way when Obama didn't pick Hillary are a good example of the selfishness and frankly juvenile attitude that has hurt our political system in the past. These are all excellent choices and people need to mature enough to vote on the democrat who can win, rather than pouting like children and giving fuel to the republicans. I wish Hillary would address this on national TV so her former backers (of which I was one) will quit thinking with their egos and get behind this GREAT Obama/Biden ticket! And more so, behind the democratic party so we don't have to deal with McCain!
    Peace, Steph

    August 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. bert

    John McCain will be worst than W Bush because at least W had his pops to lean on and he still couldn't get it right. Even W sees that we should set a time table in Iraq. Get John McBush to admit that Obama's strategy is right as far as getting the hell out of Iraq. If you think it's a mess now let Mcain win and it will be ten times worst. Vote for Obama 08 and 2012.

    August 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Why is it that the only people doing real journalism are two comedians and a sportscaster?

    August 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. ObamaAllTheWay

    I like this guy, tell them journalism died in 2008 when Foxnews and other networks start hiring high school granduates like sean hannity.

    August 25, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. beth - tampa

    How desperate is the Obama camp...

    They basically forced Ted Kennedy into making a speech tonight.

    August 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Olbermann should be Obama's Press Secretary.

    August 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Dominique

    Proving once again that Jon Stewart actually gets it. The sad part is that we have to go to his fake news show to get real political commentary.

    August 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
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