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. Anonymous

    Jon Stewart for President!

    August 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Dee, Tx

    Jon Stewart is absolutely correct. When I heard on Sun that John McCain had Biden response AD walked over to the CNN News room, I nearly fell over. McCain using the media like an info commerical with these attack web attack Ad. Media, please come back to reality.

    August 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. matt

    Hey Idiots, I keep seeing comments about how bad of a job the GOP is doing running the government. You addle brained knitwits seem to forget the democrats control congress and have every bit as much to do with failed Washington politics. While GW has a low 30% approval rating and admittedly as a Republican I am dissatisfied with HIS (not McCains) last term in office. Your democrat controlled congress has an incredibly low 17% rating. Partisan politics are for weak minded gerbils in the first place. We should pick what is better for the country not what the media tells us to pick. I'm hoping everyone sees BHO for what he is a liar. If not our country is in for a rougher four years than you could ever imagine. One last point. CNN=OBAMA ,MSN=OBAMA , NBC=OBAMA, ABC=OBAMA, FOX=MCCAIN. Argue it all you want, the truth is it's four networks against one and all 5 are wrong. They should just report the news not the views.

    August 25, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Truth

    EC – just about everybody voted for or was ok with the Iraq war. Senator Clinton voted for the war. Obama's running mate is not going to be perfect, but Biden brings a lot more to the table than his faults. Clinton would be bringing Slick Willie to the table.

    August 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Karen Raleigh

    The media is making a bigger deal of the Clintons than is necessary–and the media is trying to put words in everybody's mouthes–the clintons are history and without grace

    August 25, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. Jerry

    I love MSNBC they are the best they are not bias against Obama CNN I like read your comment but majority of my time I watch MSNBC they report news better then CNN,

    MSNBC=OBama/Biden 08

    August 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. Colonel

    I love reading Jon Stewart quotes in the afternoon. They read like victory.

    August 25, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. ted

    It seems that the media is doing there best to "prop Mccain up" because he's such a bad canidate,they need a good fight to make this coverage interesting.

    August 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  9. Joel

    Once again, it is proved that the court jester is the one who can get away with speaking the truth.

    Don't run for office, Jon, we need you where you are, doing what you're doing.

    August 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Ben

    Jon Stewart should run for office

    August 25, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. So

    Was anyone actually alive here for Edward R. Murrow. I mean seriously.

    August 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. helen

    All cable news channels are competing with trash like FOX NEWS.
    PBS is much better they don't get pay for advertising.

    August 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Kristina

    He's absolutely right, not that that's going to change anything.

    August 25, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. luckydj

    And CNN doesn't post criticism of themselves.

    August 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. Randy

    Dear John Stewart,
    Your public shaming of the corporate news is failing because you don't pay their salaries like their owners( GE ) and their sponsors (the S&P 500). Hey let's start a news university so the professors/reporters can have tenure and be promoted based on the quality and truth of the news they report. Maybe you could provide a grant or develop a foundation. There is a draw back however. Where will you get new material.
    Thanks Randy Funk

    P.S. You are the H. L. Mencken of our time. Continue the good work.

    August 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Phil in KC

    I certainly agree that there is no in-depth reporting any more. I also agree that the news media focuses on some rather trivial and meaningless things. Everything now is "Breaking News". When I was younger, "Breaking News" meant that war had broken out, a world leader had died or some other truly significant event had occurred. Now, it could be a report on how the 2 candidates prefer their eggs cooked and how that might play with the electorate.
    I would love to see the news media back off a little and give me some real information that's actually pertinent to the running of this country.

    August 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. Anonymous


    August 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. A CANUCK

    Jon Stewart and his ilk make more sense than most irritating journalists and talking heads!!!!!

    August 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. KKK for McCain

    At least there is one group still united!

    August 25, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. for Obama

    Jon is so right about the deplorable state of so called "news". I wish these reporters would go back to journalism school. But they are getting well paid for this schlock, right?
    They can't seem to tell the difference between gossip and actual signifigance. Yes– the current media definitely helped contribute to the dumbing down of the past 8 years of Bush's watch. No questions, no follow up, no ability to discern.

    August 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. luckydj

    The media is not doing its job in being more critical of McCain. There is a lot that voters may not realize like he is against equal pay for women. John Stewart has it right! The media has become a pawn for the Republicans again.

    August 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  22. BH

    John Stewart is amazing. He is right on the money.

    (1) FOX is right wing propaganda machine.
    (Bill O reily, Sean Hannity)
    (2) MSNBC is left wing propaganda machine
    (Matthews, Olbermann, Rachel etc)
    (3) CNN is slightly better but not up to the standard.
    (Ronald Martin, Campbell Brown etc cozied up to Obama)

    But there are a few good journalist or talking heads such as Anderson Cooper, Larry King, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Joe Scareborough, Bill Maher.

    I lost respect for all other biased talking heads on TV.

    CNN go ahead delete my comment.

    August 25, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. Drew

    Once again, Stewart shows that he is one of the best reporters in the country right now. Really sad that the media needs to take cues on journalism from a comedian....

    August 25, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Steve, FL

    Right on. The media has been absolutely disgusting during the campaign season and it's nice that a big name is finally starting to call them out on it.

    August 25, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. John in Memphis

    Why is this filed under Barack Obama? So it will get more hits? Geez, stop milking the man's name. He mentions other politicians in this, you know...

    August 25, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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