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. strong

    Jon Steward is not funny. He tries to be funny, but it doesn't come across. He is not a natural, he is boring. The candidates are far funnier than Stewart.

    August 25, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. Dave

    It's all true. Television journalism is particularly to blame for the downfall of the "in depth story." Instead we get 2 minute sound bites and "experts" who sum up their analysis in one minute or less. If you have a Republican strategist and a Democratic strategist doing political analysis on your show, is what he or she says really worth anything? Are they shedding new light on any issue or just repeating their party lines? It's just another wasted 2 minutes that you could have spent exploring issues in depth.

    August 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Sorry Jon Stewart, you are a comedian, plain and simple. Since when is a "fake news" satirical comedy show constituting real journalism.

    Give me a break. I MISS TIM RUSSERT!

    August 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. Roy

    I hope was listening to Stewart. This website's political coverage is devolving worse and worse as this campaign season goes on.

    August 25, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Sharon

    Jon Stewart is absolutely right! I have been increasingly annoyed by even CNN and it's absolute willingness to accept as important any kind of campagin garbage that comes out of either candidates mouth.

    I don't care about bowling scores, or Obama's father or minister I care about who is going to take care of the health care disaster, the economic recession and the frightening mess in the Middle East.

    I am an habitual CNN watcher, but I have been annoyed more than not lately. We have become a nation of petty thinkers and CNN is playing along. It's time the responsible cable networks, obviously NOT FOX, started exposing Limbaugh and yes, Glenn Beck too for the bag of winds that they are.

    The desire of the present administration is to get people so angry and tangled up in useless information that we forget what the true issues are. The ad lambasting Obama for NOT selecting Hillary should be exposed for the tripe that it is.

    Some of us rely on CNN to bring NEWS and that includes exposing the lies for what they are, not repeating them. Olberman gets caught up in his own rhetoric half of the time, but he does have the cajones to reveal lies when they are uttered.

    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. Sigh

    And the king/queen of generalized statements is tedious898. God...yes GOD... forbid somone votes what they think is right vs. the way tedious here thinks we should. As an independent I find the pious "My party is ALWAYS right" (Democrat OR GOP) schtik to reek of Communism, your party is WRONG, probably 75% of the time. Bush is an idiot, unfortunately Congress is a BUNCH of idiots (9% approval rating anyone?). Get over yourselves, your party politics, and help get the country to a better place already.

    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. FairMinded

    CNN – you have been a disgraceful news network. Now that the man – who entertatiningly teaches you about politcs is coming to your turf. I cn't be happier.

    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. Indy in Ca

    Colbert/Stewart 08

    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. Chris


    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Cheyenne

    He is totally right. I am in Germany at the moment and the only English channel is a 24-hour CNN network. They rerun the same stories constantly. And they keep talking about how angry Hillary is at Obama and how she's not VP, but they don't quote anything she actually said or did. And now they're building up all this hype about the huge rift between Hillary and Obama, and how they're going to handle it at the convention. It's all speculation, but over time it becomes news. Now I'm afraid that because of this false sense of urgency, more Hillary fans are going to think twice about voting for Obama because apparently everybody else is and Hillary is upset. It actually has made me very angry. The "liberal media" is hurting the liberals.

    Jon, you really nailed that one on the head. Way to bring it to attention.

    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. Mike D

    Stewart has got it right about CNN... they are a joke, regurgitating McCain talking points all day long.. you could learn a lot from the comedian

    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. anonymous

    Comedy Central? That's worse than the news media darlings thinking they're the almight source, now comedy central?? Jon Stewart? Another clown full of himself.

    August 25, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. R

    Jon Stewart is criticizing the media? What a joke. It's amazing he can speak, at all – as buried in Obama's back pocket as he is.

    August 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Former Dem

    Funny how CNN refuses to report how Clinton has rejected McCain's latest ads. You just can't stand to give credit where credit is due, can you? How about a little coverage of her attempts to unify your sorry party of democrooks?

    I hope someone sues CNN for blatant misinformation and for repeatedly withholding the truth. You have been the biggest smear campaign in this entire election!

    August 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Dave Barak

    The thing about using comedy to report (and yes, it's a form of reporting) is that the humor will get the viewers thinking, and will either result in "Yes, I agree!" or "He** no, I don't agree!" Either way, humor has the ability to wake people up in ways mainstream "journalism" can't or won't.

    August 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. Paul B

    Dead on about the cable news monster. Too bad they wont realize how bad they have become until it's reported on the Daily Show.

    August 25, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. United democrats

    Please disregard all comments from Obama or Clinton 'supporters' who are nasty and insulting towards each other- they are actually REPUBLICANS who are trying to make the democrats fight.

    Don't fall into their trap- please!

    August 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. Ted, Washington DC

    Well done young man even though your comments are most often psychadellic in nature and irrelevant to reason.

    August 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. James

    Swami says "McCain answer in all debates will follow this format-




    OBAMA/BIDEN 08,12

    August 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Tucker Carlson

    Darn you, Stewart!!!!!! We will meet again!!!!!!

    August 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Jake

    John Stewart is, as usual, right on point. On a more general point: America we CANNOT afford to vote another Republican administration into office. Especially one with much in common, ideologically, with Bush. I urge you – INCLUDING the Hillary backers – to vote Obama-Biden.

    August 25, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Peggy Robson

    Thank you Jon Stewart and I am in total agreement with you, it is irrevelant who takes the White House...neither one of them strikes a chord with me and I am thinking about after these 4 years what a mess we will have on our hands.

    August 25, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. Tom

    While CNN, et al, are repeating the gist of the latest fraudulent attack ad, Stewart and company are analyzing the events of the day, albeit humorously. Which group is fulfilling the duties of a journalist in a free society?

    August 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. Chuck

    I was enjoying Stewarts comments and agreed with a majority of them until he got to the "ya but" part. When he was asked about the candidates appearing on his show and Stewart stated ya but it is just another way of the candidate's to make their sales pitch.

    So although Stewart rightly criticizes the mainstream media for the manner in which they cover these elections Stewart has to admit that he makes a pretty good living at the expense of the candidates with interviews that rarely have anything to do with the serious nature of the issues we face today. And as with the mainstream media Stewart does have a certain amount of influence over some voters who may just cast their votes based on a comedy script rather than on the candidate's positions on these issues.

    I like Stewart but he has to be careful that he does not create a false sense of reality when he interviews the candidiates.

    August 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. Jack

    Right on Stewart!

    Actually CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all feed us with garbage news and stuff that have been engineered to garner high rating. Especially CNN, has forgotten its role in a democratic process is to inform people so that they can make informed decisions and instead it is now too driven by corporate greedy and have lowered the journalism standards in the process. That to me is an unpatriotic act.

    August 25, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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