August 25th, 2008
03:34 PM ET
14 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. Mat

    I wish this guy was running for office – although then we'd loose the best news coverage in the country!!

    August 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Bob in Austin, TX.

    Oh BTW, love Jon Stewart... And he's right, ya know?

    August 25, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Scott, Wichita

    Colbert/Stewert '08

    Because America needs a sense of humor!

    August 25, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. deepintheheart

    Thank God for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert! So many of our young people actually have an interest in current events because of these men and their shows. Also, while poking fun at everyone and everything (including themselves), they still manage to provide intelligent analysis of the news and the news presenters. I just hope the MSM was listening and will actually heed his words. I'm tired of a certain political party dictating what is and what is not news and I know I'm not alone.

    August 25, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  5. J

    I hope you were paying attention CNN... Repeating the garbage from racist emails is not Journalism, show a little dignity and ignore the garbage and just report news.... keep your opinions to yourself.

    August 25, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    "It's stunning where this election is going to be decided on."

    Nothing stunning about it–it's only what you'd expect when the choice of the next president is left to a population that lives on "reality" TV shows. This election is just one more of the same, yet another reality show, and the winner will be the man who isn't voted off the set.

    August 25, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. Vote Nader

    It must be nice to complain about the media attention one's candidate gets. I have no idea what that's like.

    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    August 25, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. Josh in Denver

    While I totally agree with Jon and think he is one of the great thinkers of our time, I don't think all the blame should be placed on the news agencies. They run businesses and have families to raise. The truth is, while so many complain about biases and lack of real reporting, we all still watch. The viewers need only stop watching the non-sense spouted on 24-hour news networks and they will change.

    August 25, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Peter

    There are well-known educational studies proving that students rise or fall to the level of expectations placed upon them. Treat them as smart and they will become smart. The news media has treated the whole country as dumb for the last 20 years and the fruits of that expectation were harvested in the 2004 presidential vote.

    August 25, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. gt


    August 25, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    Well spoken, any of the media listening? If the shoe fits, wear it.

    August 25, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Todd

    As usual, Stewart hits the nails squarely on their dull little heads. Mainstream media's coverage of politics and government is AWFUL - the focus is always on soap opera and personal issues, almost never on policy. If I never hear another story about a presidential pet, a candidate's favorite band or ANYTHING ABOUT BLOGS again, I'll be happy. Lazy reporting, lazy reporting, lazy reporting.

    August 25, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Critic

    Couldn't agree more, John. And Soledad's performance on day 1 of the convention is just awfullllll.

    And her voice is all trebled out. She sounds like a mouse.

    August 25, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. bobb dobbs

    One gas bag lecturing the others.

    August 25, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Shawn

    I respect John Stewart. He's a liberal, but is as even handed as one can be with their own international forum.

    August 25, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. K

    Well it seems one of your own feels the same way I do about how CNN covers the news.....coincidence? no such thing, there is a reason behind everything that happens or in CNN's case a hidden agenda. Be better reporter's and report the news not make it up.

    August 25, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Bill Pettingill

    Anyone who wants real news and real confronting the candidates on what they say must watch The Daily Show, which time and again and demonstrated that ut takes the time to research archives and come up with footage that the Big News repeatedly fails to uncover. No one else is asking this question of Clinton supporters who refuse to vote for Obama, so maybe Jon Stewart will: Are you willing to sacrifice the lives of young American men and women –in the war you presumably wanted stopped– at the altar of your own self-centered bitterness? Is your own sensibility really more important than the lives and limbs of our troops?

    August 25, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. you know my name

    What a puppet. Stewart makes ambiguous accusations while decrying the main operations of news broadcasting. When we will learn that this is not a man to be taken seriously. How about a little less whining and a little more action.

    August 25, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Dave Barak

    One of the last straws for me when it comes to trusting the mainstream media with political coverage was when, on August 13, posted a yellow "Developing Story" banner at the top of the page, advising readers that "John McCain's wife was hospitalized with a minor hand sprain after shaking hands with supporters, the senator's campaign says."

    August 25, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. toohip

    Thank you, Jon Stewart, for once again exposing the media, particularly CNN and Fox, the most disgusting names in news, for their careless punditry. And thank you, e-mail person, "notfallinginline" for the sound, detailed, issue-based accounting of the Republican party debacle. People, you've got to get past the "fluff" and media generated so-called "controversies" and look at the real issues when deciding how to cast your vote! Don't let the pundits choose your next President. Look at the real issues!

    August 25, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. Tammy - KCMO

    Jon Stewart the only reporter that actually tells it like it is. Other than to watch the weather I've given up on getting actual unbiased reporting from the MSM.

    August 25, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. bob in L.A.

    His remarks are true but his ratings have dropped, so his opinion means very little.
    He may as well have just posted them here!

    August 25, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. SB

    If anyone is interested ,CNN's John Roberts experience in journalism is as a Canadian video Disc Jockey with zero education. Only he called himself JD Roberts at that time.

    August 25, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. Kerri

    Bob in Indianapolis – you're completely dead on. I watch both shows for the comedy and find that I'm given a more accurate depiction of current events than the main stream media gives me. At least Stewart and Colbert don't take themselves too seriously, and they are so good at pointing out how absolutely ridiculous the coverage of this election has been.

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

    CNN should take note and evaluate their continued production of trash-TV shows hosted by, e.g., Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace. Let FOX "News" cover that territory and put the News back in CNN.

    August 25, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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