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. D in NC

    Thank you John. I swear the next major topic regarding our candidates will be, who's the best at eating southern sweet potato pie?!?!

    Only in America will people vote against someone because they're angry & bitter versus voting for that person b/c he's closest to their values.

    We deserved the past 8 years because of American Moron-voters (and Moron-nonvoters), and we will deserve the next 4 if we elect McCain...

    No wonder our schools are failing...join me and volunteer!!!

    August 25, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. bridgette

    I think someone needed to tell these shows to grow up and get over themselves.

    August 25, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. daryl

    Stewart's opinion on the media is always right on. Just like cigarettes are nothing more than "nicotine delivery devices", CNN has become nothing more than a "spin delivery device" for the campaigns. CNN , and in particular Wolf Blitzer, seem more intent on acting like Don King the fight promoter than the true journalist and "truth delivery vehicles" they are supposed to be. The 24 hour news cycle has changed reporting for the worse.

    August 25, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Liz T, Tucson

    The media and their pundits wallow in the same conjecture day in and day out. No wonder people are tired of this campaign that is the most important in several generations.

    If there is no controversy, the media speculate about what it might be, and before you know it, some yokel out there is repeating it over the water cooler as fact. I heard it on CNN. Even NPR is starting to be apologists for truth.

    Stephen Colbert and John Stewart have become the consumer watchdogs of the news media. We should demand better coverage from the 4th estate.

    August 25, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  5. from Spring, TX

    Stewart is sooooooo right on!!

    August 25, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. Kevin

    CNN – we are done with your new station....You are worst than fox now. what happened to you guys.

    The bogus polling results – you guys think America is that stupid and believe this BS.

    NO your ratings will fall because of this type of BS reporting.

    Mark my words

    August 25, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. Tonya, Richmond, VA

    Wow, we love using that same ol tired excuse...HE'S INEXPERIENCED...

    Bush had experience and look where it got us. So clearly having experience doesnt mean a thing. It's all about good judgement and taking the time to make clear thought out decisions. COMMON SENSE if you will and sad to say Bush and McBush lacks that. McBush is short of a few marbles therefore I feel he isn't right for the job. I dont care how long that man has been involved in politics. HE'S EVIL!

    Obama is the man.

    OBAMA/BINDEN 08!!! way...

    August 25, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. Brenda S. from NJ

    I am a retired (21 1/2 yr) black female military officer who believes and knows for sure, that a great leader (Obama) enlists the best NCO (non-commissioned officer- Biden) along side of them enhancing everyone's chances of successfully completing the mission with their joint teamwork, even though the officer is ultimately responsible. You see the character and strength of a great leader like Obama when they acknowledge those weaknesses and for the greater good of the cause make that decision ... because we ALL... have weakness but many want to be right rather than successfully like (GWB and McCain). I hope that for all of us females in the military and otherwise Hillary sincererly acknowledges that she has made a trememdous mark in this presidential campaign and now it is trully her victory by stepping aside. Her supporters who will support McCain and not unify the Dem. party were not true to her to begin with to me. If Obama contacted her and told her that he did not pick her ( which I believe in my heart he did )then she should say so!!! As I recover from breast cancer (even with insurance have to still pay additional medical bills) want to here about the issues not upset kids pouting from the playgroung sandbox !!! People will speculate about anything and I tell you if I were still in the military, I would want someone who would go to great lengths to talk thru peace options first than just jump to war, wouldn't most people? Lastly, the constant in life is change but we need to ask what type of change are we willing to stand up for? Remember how many fellow americans don't have a kitchen table to sit at and I believe Obama would be the first to understand what that is like don't you think? Thanks

    August 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. Chris

    It's definitely cool of CNN to feature this article, because Jon has a good point, but he may be missing the real issue. It is amazing how CNN and many other news organizations have to scrape the bottom of the pan to keep people viewing and advertisers paying. It is excessive at most times, but urgency sells. Unfortunately the real problem isn't 24hr news, but the people like us who can't stop watching it. Drama is addictive any way you slice it and Americans are always "tweaked out!" for another hit of "spin". 🙂

    Maybe we should call it intravenous advertising?

    August 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Sonia G. MS

    I am glad somebody has said something about this problem...

    August 25, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. nic, bellingham wa

    What's so amazing about stating the obvious? Speaking of biases...I wish Mr. Stewart would let go of his pro-Clinton stance.

    He's no better than the MSM pundits, really. In fact, he's one of them.

    August 25, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Roger

    It's embarrasing to watch the world's super power decide the future leadership of it's country and the direction fo the world by running attack ads and story lines that are better served in a junior school playground. Do the campaign staff and the media have no shame? Good on John Stewart. The way the media portrays the election – through inuendo, frequently without any basis on which to substantiate the trivia, which the vast majority of the country takes on face value, makes the rest of the world shake their head and worry for all our futures.

    August 25, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Riney

    You are absolutely correct, Mr. Stewart. The media (like most Americans) just want to collect salaries and do nothing of any substance to earn it. Seems sensationalism, triteness and junk reporting is what most Americans like.
    Riney PA

    August 25, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Big D

    And another thing – the media lets the RNC/McCain camp drive the narrative day after day. Why do we hear so much about controversy in the DNC, and who supports who and who won't support who, and who dissed who. But we never hear any of that about the RNC side. And they have plenty of controversy too. Did you know that there actually are R's that are not supporting McCain? You'd never know it from the media. Ron Paul has refused to endorse McCain and his supporters are having their own convention in StPaul during the RNC convention. Why don't we hear endless drama about why Ron Paul won't release his delegates? Why don't we hear about 3rd party candidates and their supporters? Why don't we hear the actual statements of unity from the Democrats? Why – because the media would like us to think that the D's have endless drama and the R's are the ones united. But that's not actually true, is it?

    August 25, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. NatSTL

    Wow, I came to read the comments thinking there would be a lot of criticism of Stewart, and am instead SO pleasantly surprised that almost everyone agrees with his argument (Though perhaps I shouldn't be that surprised).

    There is hope for Americans yet!

    August 25, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. 18,000,000 plus the disenfranchised

    Jon Stewart is pretty smart! He seems to catch what everyone else,in the media,is missing. The media's insistance in making Obama a household name,has sickened everyone with an Obama virus. We hear to name ,now ,and we want to throw up!. He has been linked with so many radically liberal activists,that we don't want to even hear the name..... It has been enough to turn blue people red,no joke! The people feel as if they are being force fed by the media,on Obama rations, and people just don't like being forced to do anything. The DNC and the Media,share this problem,equally. The DNC ,whether deliberatly or not, set in to motion a Primary geared for electing a minority,worthy or not,,while stealing the voices of millions of voters,and the media forced fed us til we all got sick! There it is, plain and simple.

    August 25, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  17. eric

    Youcneed to take these words to and the other cable news have sunk to the lowest depths in NOT covering real news that I have ever seen...I watched MSNBC this afternoon because of Brokaw...a real reporter who has no need to need to chase the pumas need to wisen!

    August 25, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. JPM


    August 25, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. In Tears.....

    CNN took the Poll-Of-Polls off the political front page because Barack is up by 4 points instead of 2 and they dont want to report it.

    OBAMA 08!!

    August 25, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. DJ Los Angeles

    OUTSTANDING TAKE! Jon is 100% on the mark, great job speaking up about the tabloid style obsession of the media.

    August 25, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Texas Witch Twister

    It will we decided on lies if you let the news media convince you of who you should vote for. People need to use their, "God Given Brains," for one in making this important decision. If you listen to CNN then OBAMA is your man, if you listen to Fox network then McCAIN is your man. I for one am am a past Democrat. One for 51-years who will now vote for the man. If anyone had any sense they would never consider someone of Obama's morality and bearing. He has no experience for being Presidential. He is a crook, a liar, anti-Christian and a terrorist supporter. I WILL SELECT JOHN McCAIN THIS GO AROUND BECAUSE HE IS THE BETTER OF TWO EVILS. BUT LET ME TELL YOU FOLKS AS LONG AS WE KEEP THE KENNEDYS, DEANS, PELOSIS, BYRDS, BUSHES AND OTHER REPUBLICANS WHO HAVE BEEN IN OFFICE OVER TEN YEARS. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BETTER SELECTIONS. THE AFRICAN AMERICANS WANT TO SAY WHEN PEOPLE LIKE ME SAY I WILL NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA THEN IT IS RACE. FAR FROM IT. HE JUST DOES NOT MEET THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A MORAL AND JUST MAN.

    August 25, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. kima

    Please Democratic Party, I want my country back. Heal yourselves and move on and give our nation two of the most intelligent people we could ever hope for. Take a cue from the Republicans, get in lockstep with each other and get behind Obama and Biden. I shudder to think of what the Supreme Court would look like with 1,2, or even 3 McCain appointees......

    August 25, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. Alexander Buls

    Jon Stewart is a victim of his own publicity. In his own narcissistic way, he believes he is saving us from the evil political establishment. Slow down jonny boy and remember you are just a pseudo-comedian with a show on comedy central and not the next MLK for political unity.

    August 25, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Peter (CA)

    This is why I watch Stewart get a laugh and to sometimes see some wonderful perspective. Like when Cheney says he never said a certain thing and then they show when he did.
    The network news would never call them out. Why does it take a comedy show to do it?

    And before you right-wingers get your underalls in a wad, watch his (and Colbert's) show. Although they slant liberal, they go after everyone in power. I have see lots of stuff on the Clintons and now the Obama stuff, too. McCain has been a frequent guest on both shows (and I give him big props for that).

    August 25, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Sylvia B

    I am so glad people are seeing what a fraud CNN is. They are rooting for John McCain. It is evident every night with the likes of Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger, Lou Dobbs, Glen Beck and even David Gergen. I used to think David Gergen was objective, but he is always saying "Obama has a problem with blue collar voters". That is his MO. Candy Crowley is another McCain cheerleader. I have even been surprised by Anderson Cooper. There is not one person on CNN that I can consider objective or pro-Obama. MSNBC is not all pro-Obama. Only Keith Olbermann. Look at the pro-McCain Joe Scarborough, Pat (Disgusting) Buchanan, Chris Matthews (appears to favor McCain sometimes), David Gregory. So MSNBC should not be called pro-Obama just because of Keith Olbermann. Thank goodness for him. I despise CNN and have stopped watching it. They are competing with FOX News to become a one of the worst news organizations.

    August 25, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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