Bill Moyers interviewed Jon Stewart
April 29, 2007 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Bill Moyers interviewed Jon Stewart on April 27. The video is on the Moyers' soon-to-be great new site.
posted by McGuillicuddy (68 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite part:
BILL MOYERS: Well, what is your thinking about why it is as-- the war enters its fifth year, and the President has announced - an extension of tours to 15 months, and they're going to call up the National Guard. And April was the bloodiest month so far since the war started, and there was one day in April that was the bloodiest day. That people have seen they have no way to get the guys in Washington, and Condoleezza Rice, to listen to them. That there seems a detachment emotionally, and politically in this country from what is happening.

JON STEWART: You know, one of the things that I do think government counts on is that people are busy. And it's very difficult to mobilize a busy and relatively affluent country, unless it's over really crucial-- you know, foundational issues. That come sort of sort of a tipping point.


JON STEWART: But war that hasn't affected us here, in the way that you would imagine a five-year war would affect a country. I think that's why they're so really - here's the disconnect. It's sort of this odd and I've always had this problem with the rationality of it. That the President says, "We are in the fight for a way of life. This is the greatest battle of our generation, and of the generations to come. "And, so what I'm going to do is you know, Iraq has to be won, or our way of life ends, and our children and our children's children all suffer. So, what I'm gonna do is send 10,000 more troops to Baghdad."

So, there's a disconnect there between - you're telling me this is fight of our generation, and you're going to increase troops by 10 percent. And that's gonna do it. I'm sure what he would like to do is send 400,000 more troops there, but he can't, because he doesn't have them. And the way to get that would be to institute a draft. And the minute you do that, suddenly the country's not so damn busy anymore. And then they really fight back, and then the whole thing falls apart. So, they have a really delicate balance to walk between keeping us relatively fearful, but not so fearful that we stop what we're doing and really examine how it is that they've been waging this.
Stewart is the most trustworthy anchorman in America.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 5:05 PM on April 29, 2007 [5 favorites]

This was quintesenntial Jon Stewart - witty and insightful with a clarity of analysis that is remarkable. If you are a fan of the Daily Show, the interview is not to be missed (the followup with the writer from the Talking Points blog was also excellent).
posted by bluesky43 at 5:07 PM on April 29, 2007

McG - I loved that interchange and I realized that hearing someone else in the media say what I feel was strangely comforting. Once there is any sacrifice demanded by a large part of the population, popular attention will be turned directly on the war and the Bush administration does not want that.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:11 PM on April 29, 2007

Stewart/Colbert '16
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:18 PM on April 29, 2007

So glad to have Bill Moyers back.
posted by found missing at 5:18 PM on April 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Awesome. I was watching it this morning. It's the best interviewer today being interviewed.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:31 PM on April 29, 2007

I agree with Jon Stewart, and yet if the populace are really as asleep as he makes it sound then what happened in November 2006? And in the polling right now?
posted by DU at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2007

It's the best interviewer today being interviewed.

I have as big an intellectual schoolgirl-crush on Jon Stewart as anybody else, but I don't think he's that great an interviewer. He's a little too desperate to make sure he delivers some kind of laugh line at least once every thirty seconds, often to the detriment of the interview itself, I think.

Still, he's dreamy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:39 PM on April 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Stewart is the most trustworthy anchorman in America.

I knew that already. What I took away from this is that Jon is the most humane person on television. He really does care about America and the World in a pretty deeply idealistic way. He's so non-cynical that it's a little shocking.
posted by octothorpe at 5:40 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best interviewer? He might be the most sensible and simultaneously funny political critic around, but he's often painfully clumsy as an interviewer.
posted by found missing at 5:41 PM on April 29, 2007

or, what stavros said.
posted by found missing at 5:42 PM on April 29, 2007

The few times I've seen Stewart as the interviewee have only make me like him as the interviewer more. Yeah, he's not perfect, but I still like the guy behind the stumbles.
posted by Cyrano at 5:46 PM on April 29, 2007

Awesome. I was watching it this morning. It's the best interviewer today being interviewed.

Is he really the best interviewer? He may have one of the most awesome shows, but his interviews can be kinda dull.

I noticed Moyers also interviewed Josh Marshal, who is an even better news source then Stewart, IMO.
posted by delmoi at 5:49 PM on April 29, 2007

Stewart is running a comedy show. That's why people watch it. Comedy interviews with non-comedians are inevitably going to have awkwardness, and Stewart does it remarkably well.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:49 PM on April 29, 2007

He's an incisive man, and I love him to death, but the format of the show - a five minute interview, punctuated by laugh lines - does not let him be that great of a conversationalist.

There have been exceptions, of course. Madeleine Albright and Zbigniew Brzezinski were great subjects. But still.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:52 PM on April 29, 2007

Btw, check out Josh Marshal's vlogs such as this one if you're interested in getting a quick summary of the stuff that he's reporting on.
posted by delmoi at 5:55 PM on April 29, 2007

And how about a tip of the hat to Bill Moyers?

"I can assure them they are not getting any journalism from us. ...We function as an editorial cartoon."

Jon Stewart's being humble and snarky and purposefully sells himself short. He knows people turn to The Daily Show for their news. Not all people, but some, and he's cringing about that... all the way to the bank. The entire news industry is a joke, and his 'editorial cartoons' are more informative than what passes for news today.

What concerns Stewart is that if you don't go to the (alleged) serious news sources that he's satirizing, you may not get the joke.

It's like if I asked you, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" and your answer was, "What's a chicken?" odds are you're not gonna laugh at the answer I was going for. Granted, NO ONE laughs at that joke anymore, but this was just an example.

Or maybe a better example, Farmer's Daughter jokes only make sense if you understand the premise of sex. Most human beings do, but say you're too young to get the birds and the bees, or you've never seen a member of the opposite sex in your life, or you're an asexual paramecium, it will be harder for you to grasp WHY this is funny, if you have no frame of reference.

Stewart's afraid if you listen to his jokes without actually paying attention to the news, you're not gonna get it.

I don't think Stewart gets it.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:06 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Is he really the best interviewer? He may have one of the most awesome shows, but his interviews can be kinda dull.

Compared to other celebrity interview talking heads he's definitely the best, especially in that he asks legitimate questions beyond the usual "so how did you get into character for Garfield, Ms. Hewitt?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:17 PM on April 29, 2007

It's the best interviewer today being interviewed.

Is Jeremy Paxman still doing interviews over in the UK? Because in my mind, he's the best in the world (even if he is a smug bastard).
posted by dw at 6:18 PM on April 29, 2007

I watched this the other day and it is a great interview. I got a little annoyed when Moyers seemed to want Stewart to respond a certain way, but in those instances Stewart always flatly contradicted Moyers' interpretation if he needed to.

I don't have a real problem with Moyers' interviewing techniques, it is more the mild annoyance I feel when Ira Glass on This American Life tries to subtly force his interpretation of an event on the interviewee.
posted by Falconetti at 6:27 PM on April 29, 2007

When it comes to grace, Stewart's in a league of his own. I'd love to see him in Tom Snyder's old format. No audience, just him and a guest for 25 minutes.
posted by davebush at 6:32 PM on April 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

I like Jon's interview techniques so much better than, say, Bill O'Reilley's. Jon gets a few zingers in, but he always does it with respect and humility. His McCain interview is a case in point. He did end up talking over McCain, but that was because McCain wouldn't quit prattling on about bullshit that had nothing to do with the questions he was being asked.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:32 PM on April 29, 2007

the Josh Marshall segment is worth watching too.
posted by pruner at 6:34 PM on April 29, 2007

That was a really great interview. Stewart comes across very well.
posted by dazed_one at 6:41 PM on April 29, 2007

Again, Bill Moyers is an awesome interviewer and journalist and we're talking too much about Jon Stewart. Myself included. Just wanna again start on that note and then completely fail to expound on Moyerishness.

By the way, Stewart being interviewed by Moyers is kinda cringeworthy. Good stuff, and thanks for the link btw, but it's cringeworthy, cuz Stewart hates this. He looks like he's been sent to the principal's office in the fifth grade. He's so uncomfortable and yet he still looks good. Must be all his fashion consultants and hair stylists and the guy who gets him coffee making him look good, cuz he looks depressed in that seat.

This is like having to explain the joke. Have you ever told a joke at a party and nobody gets it and so you start trying to explain the joke? You should just stop right there. It's impossible. It's too late. If they didn't get it, they're not gonna. Wait a couple hours for them to get real drunk and then try the same joke again, but don't try to explain it to them. You'll just dig your own hole.

It's like dissecting The Daily Show. Why is it successful? Why do people tune in. When you do X on your show do you think Y or what are you thinking? To Stewart this is like someone taking apart lightbulb jokes and distilling what makes some funny and others not so funny. Approaching comedy in a serious manner like this is like sending death threats to comedy. It kills the joke.

One of my favorite books ever is called How To Be Funny by Steve Allen, and I don't recommend you read it, cuz essentially that's just what Steve Allen does to humor - he tries to define it and describe it and ends up just citing examples of what works and what doesn't and by the end he's like shrugging at you and going "I dunno how to be funny, you bought this book so the joke's on you." The dead bastard.

Watching the interview within the interview, I can't believe how much respect Jon Stewart has for John McCain - and I understand it because I share it I mean McCain's a war hero he was a POW when we talk about sacrificing for your country, McCain is a living embodiment of that.

I disagree with McCain but if I ever met the man I'd probably be willing to do anything he asked me to do short of giving up my inalienable rights. Coffee? Right away Mister McCain and by the way thanks man. Give blood to the Red Cross? Yes sir.

Stewart disagrees with McCain but he respects the heck out of him. You can see it in his eyes, and I think McCain respects Stewart in a way too - not the same way cuz let's face it, Stewart wouldn't have lasted five seconds in a POW camp he woulda been like, "please I'll do whatever you want just don't take away my hair stylist pleeeeeeease! I'm a metrosexual! I need all my fashion consultants and the guy who gets me coffee and picks out the black jelly beans. I'll do anything. Don't make me rough it!"

So when you go back and look at the last interview Stewart had with McCain - and previous interviews I've seen them do together - Jon looks up to this man which makes his job as comedian that much harder. He has to put a cream pie in McCain's face. That's Stewart's job. This last time though, it wasn't lemon merraigne that was in the pie. Stewart was throwing some serious shit at McCain, who took the pummelling diligently just as he did when he was a POW.

McCain will throw himself on the grenade for this Administration. How does any comedian find the punchline in that? That's not comedy. That's tragedy. I don't wanna see McCain slip on a banana peel or get blown up like in the cartoons. That ain't funny no more.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:44 PM on April 29, 2007

Stewart's interview with McCain: Part 1, Part 2
posted by pruner at 6:56 PM on April 29, 2007

MOYERS: wouldn't recognize it, but we [the media] recognize it, transformation from the stand-up comic to a serious social and political critic?

STEWART: I don't consider myself a serious and social political critic.

MOYERS: But I do. And I'm your audience.

STEWART: Yes, and I end up with one of your tote bags.

posted by ZachsMind at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2007

Jon Steward embed mov, here.
posted by acro at 6:59 PM on April 29, 2007

I just think Bill Moyers is awesome. He's bar none my favorite interviewer... insightful, intuitive, and genuinely warm and folksy. I used to see him with some frequency when I worked near Channel 13, and I always got a super geeky butterfly rush. So, yeah, thanks for the Jon Stewart link, but more thanks for the link to his site!
posted by kimdog at 7:02 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Stewart went on at length about how he is a comedian and his show is a comedy that happens to be about the news and politics. It is not a news show that that happens to be funny. His primary responsibility, as he puts it, is it infuse the political situation with some context and humor. The fact that the show is often more spot on than many news programs perhaps speaks more of their failure than his success. I love the guy too, but I think people too often look to him and his show as a serious analysis of the issues and not a comedy show.
posted by sophist at 7:03 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

o/t [I'm not a web designer, but why do they emebed quicktime without offering d/l links? Could they not tell robots to skip it without using javascript? Is posting a link here going to cost PBS lots of bandwidth?]
posted by acro at 7:07 PM on April 29, 2007

To derail slightly, I never thought I'd see Steve Allen get snarked at, but if it were going to happen anywhere, this is the place.
posted by pax digita at 7:11 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Bill Moyers has compared the phrase Net Neutrality to Switzerland, and thinks we need to refer to it more as equality, because if it's limited only to the affluent, commercial interests will be able to determine what you get, and how much you pay - like cable tv.

I can't find the link now, but a year or so ago Moyers gave a speech shortly after he'd been fired from PBS over some BS regarding republican reaction to his show and he gave a competent, scathing breakdown of American media and news reporting and politics and oh man it was a sight to behold. I can't find it, but since he's back on the air, I guess it's not important. He proved with that speech that he was still relevant, and he continues to do so with each broadcast. Powerful speaker and influential correspondent on the Human Condition. Moyer rocks.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:15 PM on April 29, 2007

Snarked? I love Steve Allen. I may roast him, but I didn't intend to snark him. I actually got to talk with the man once briefly over the phone, essentially to put him on hold so he could talk to someone more important than me. Great guy. Love his book. He's still a dead bastard.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:18 PM on April 29, 2007

The more I read or see of John Stewart, the madder I get at the O'Reilly comment about a year ago about how all Stewart's fans are stoned slackers. I'd wager that the average John Stewart fan is way better educated and certainly better read (seeing how every time Stewart has an author on The Daily Show that author's book sales get a big bump) than an O'Reilly watcher. I would fire off a letter to O'Reilly but the joint just made its way back around to me.
posted by vito90 at 7:28 PM on April 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

vito - republicans aren't necessarily less intelligent than their democratic weed smoking rivals ;)
posted by 2shay at 7:32 PM on April 29, 2007

McCain. The POW, the guy Bush & Co. completely shat upon and impugned in so many awful ways during the 2000 election. A guy who somehow through all that has held true to his politics without resorting to the batshit insane tactics of so many others of his party. And I think Stewart has relied on him because he has been willing to be candid, and if anything gave us all a certain hope that even if the Republicans were voted in again in '08, here might finally be an individual with the ability to heal the massive rift that the last 6+ years has wrought in the country.

But the title "presidential hopeful" seems to have turned the man's head of late. He has said and done many things in the last few months that stink of that desperation of so many politicians currently running for the job - the desperation that makes you listen to and start acting like your handlers.

So I think Stewart's respect had waned a great deal, and his dissapointment overflowed, live, as he watched McCain's normal candidness dissappear and saw him turn into the same kind of talking point borg as so many others before him have. In fact there was a point there where McCain clammed up, and I wonder, if he too realized it...

We can only hope.
posted by bobloblaw at 7:35 PM on April 29, 2007

The more I read or see people commenting about how mad O'Reilly's comments make them, the more I wonder why people still listen to O'Reilly.

We're not still listening to Limbaugh, are we? Speaking of people we've stopped listening to, Bill Maher interviewed Bill Moyers not too long ago. I apologize for the opening monologue. If I could find a vid of this interview that wasn't prefaced by Maher's calling Cho a turd, I'd link to it. It gets good when Moyers shows up, trust me.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:35 PM on April 29, 2007

I'd vote for McCain if he'd come clean and stop backing the war... aaaaand maybe just reconsider his economic policy approach a little bit... aaaand admit that he can't reform Washington cuz it's owned by corporate interests... aaand admit that 'sanctity of life' is a code word for anti-abortion and denial of choice to American women... aaand admit he doesn't believe in protecting wildlife unless that counts preserving hunting grounds...

Okay. I can't vote for him. I still respect the heck out of him. He disagrees with me, but is willing to fight to the death for my right to say that. I loves the stuffin's outta him.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:45 PM on April 29, 2007

I still respect the heck out of him.

*boggles* Really? I figure he's shown himself to be the worst kind of opportunist, say-anything whore in recent months. Utterly free of any kind of real conviction, it seems, if it might lose him votes. But then, maybe I dreamed all that.

If I could find a vid of this interview that wasn't prefaced by Maher's calling Cho a turd, I'd link to it.

Well, actually he calls him 'a little puke'. Neither epithet seems inappropriate to me. I actually thought you meant you were talking about Margaret Cho... and was almost prepared to say the same thing.

Maher's alright, he's just not very funny.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:53 PM on April 29, 2007

What a wonderful exchange. Stewart vs. Moyers, etc.
posted by rhizome23 at 8:18 PM on April 29, 2007

I'd vote for McCain if he'd come clean and stop backing the war

There's nothing to come clean about -- McCain is an enormous hawk and always has been. He was basically the only Republican to support American military action in Kosovo.

And to the person who mentioned Tom Snyder above, Stewart was Tom Snyder's standing guest-host on The Late Late Show and was superb in that role; I was really disappointed at the time that he didn't get that gig permanently.
posted by aaronetc at 8:19 PM on April 29, 2007

John Stewart just exudes decency, doesn't he? Which is really an amazing feat to pull off and at the same time perform the material that he does, which has such a hard edge.

I think he's probably in the top 3 of "people I'd like to meet".
posted by empath at 8:29 PM on April 29, 2007

I'm just going to say that the thing that bothered me about some of the interview clips from the show (and also the same thing that bothered me about Bill Maher's show whenever I caught it playing) was the sudden interruptive cheering of the audience. I realize that a show like Jon Stewart's is reliant upon an interactive audience (laughing and whatnot), but I hate what it does to an interview or discussion (as in Bill Maher's case).

Suddenly, the interviewer becomes backed by a huge crowd of people and his point seems to lose its sincerity in the process; and at the same time the person being interviewed or asked a question is put on the defensive and is less likely to give a sincere, thoughtful answer. Again, I realize the audience is necessary, but there are times that I wish they would shutup.
posted by the other side at 8:31 PM on April 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

So I think Stewart's respect had waned a great deal, and his dissapointment overflowed, live, as he watched McCain's normal candidness dissappear and saw him turn into the same kind of talking point borg as so many others before him have. In fact there was a point there where McCain clammed up, and I wonder, if he too realized it...

Around 2003, John started to look at himself differently in the mirror. He began to see something on his back, a little black baby to be precise, a baby with a familiar face (he knew at once it was Karl's). It was a wretched little thing with fingers like talons gripping the flesh on his shoulders. He tried not to think about it, and started to avoid mirrors in public; still, he would not let his appearance or suffer on account of it.

At first the baby was silent. Then it began to speak, but at least not in English; he could just tune it out whenever he had to shave or put on his tie.

The English was to come later. Then came the requests. They started out innocently enough: what to wear, advice on pore cleansers and aftershave lotion, so he obliged. Soon he was keeping chestnuts in his cheeks to keep the thing quiet.

Then the requests got stranger, darker. With great trepidation he did as he was asked and found himself in the basement of a long neglected mini-mall outside Richmond. When he walked inside a chill ran down his spine, and old memories bubbled out of the depths of his unconscious. The walls were bare concrete, cracked in places and discolored. The air had a stale, acrid smell. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, Ted and Jerry appeared out of the shadows in one corner. Ted had a ball gag in one hand, a paddle in the other. For a moment, John thought he saw a nervous smile twitching on the corners of his lips. Jerry just stared at him, his face expressionless but his hands belied a simmering anger just below the surface. He held a wooden yardstick in a quivering, white knuckled grasp.

Later the voice told him he would run for president, and by that time, there was no voice left inside him to say no.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:35 PM on April 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

I agree with TheOtherSide that Maher needs to do his schtick w/o an audience but the guy's a conceited arrogant prick (I love Maher but he is) and without an audience he wouldn't know what to do with himself. He especially likes an audience that he can wave his hand at to quiet them, cuz it makes him feel powerful. They're putty in his hands, mostly because they're handpicked fans and were primed properly by guys Maher's people hired to prime them. Probably struggling comedians who worship Maher's feet.

But I digress. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

"I actually thought you meant you were talking about Margaret..."

He wasn't? Oh my bad. Sorry. =) I'm kidding!

Okay. So McCain's trying to figure out how he can stay viable and get the republican nomination for president. I think if I found myself within shouting distance of the opportunity, I'd try to figure that out too. Power corrupts, and who wouldn't want a free night in the Lincoln Bedroom? I mean let's be honest. Hell, if I could get my own talkshow with five hundred people in the audience that I could cause to applaud, laugh, or quiet at my merest hand gesture, I'd do that too. I'm as much a sucker for power corruption as the next guy.

So McCain's signing his soul to the devil and all that. I can't blame him. He wants the nomination. I'd respect him more if he'd be more honest about it, but being honest in Washington is precisely what DOESN'T get you the presidency, so we want him to be just what he can't be to get elected. It's a catch-22.

I don't respect his recent actions, and as I have said before I disagree with pretty much all his politics, but I respect the man. He's done a lot in my opinion and deserves a little slack.

I seriously would have preferred the past eight years with John McCain as president and Colin Powell as vice president (okay actually I'd prefer the reverse but whatever) than what we got now.

...Okay. I'd prefer John Travolta and Brittney Spears in the White House to what we've got going now.

...Okay. I'd prefer a potted plant and a used Q-Tip to Cheney & Bush.

Of all the above options, plus Kerry and whoever he got for VP (who DID he get for VP anyway? I forget), I'd still prefer Powell & McCain, cuz even though I disagree with them, I still respect them, and if left to their own devices, they would sincerely do what they think is best for the country, without turning the constitution into birdcage liner.

I'd also want a democratic congress to keep Powell & McCain from going completely bonkers with power, but if they decided to go to war I for one would have more confidence that two men who've served in the military and respect the armed forces and the men and women who serve today, would only put them in harm's way if it was absolutely necessary, and they'd have an exit strategy before they had an entrance strategy, cuz actual military men would do that.

Oh. And Moyer still rocks the hizzy.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:45 PM on April 29, 2007

Great stuff. One of my favorite Bill Moyers pieces is his address at West Point. Amazing stuff.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:47 PM on April 29, 2007

ZachsMind: John Edwards was the VP candidate
posted by edgeways at 9:52 PM on April 29, 2007

wow! what a kick-ass show. Moyers, Stewart, Marshall - jeez. the heavyweights.

It is almost as good as Ian Masters sublime interviews today on Background Briefing with William Odom and the former #3 man at the CIA - stunning:
posted by specialk420 at 11:33 PM on April 29, 2007

You know what I've taken away from this thread?


ZachsMind has sold his account.

To respond to the idea that Powell would do what he genuinely thought was right for the country, look at his performance before the UN. Or perhaps look farther back in his history. He's just as much an opportunist as anyone. In fact, I'd think Kerry is more likely to do what's right, given his history. Fuck, I'd trust Edwards more than I'd trust Powell, but I don't buy into the idea that "trial lawyers" are sleazy, so what do I know (other than some trial lawyers)?

In any event, Moyers is awesome. He's probably one of the three best television journalists still alive today.
posted by wierdo at 11:52 PM on April 29, 2007

I liked that part with the Iraqi author and Stewart saying he felt a bit guilty about not having enough empathy with the daily slaughter in Iraq as it stands in contrast to the singular event of Virginia Tech. It was a kind of acknowledgement of the limited viewscape that is described as being Americocentric by some. I don't hightlight this as a backhand comment - I just wonder sometimes about the level of perspective that makes it into the US media. It is to Stewart's credit I think that he can at least express his feelings of inadequacy about a self acknowledged 'disconnect from distance'.

Anyway, it's a little bit disingenuous (although I perfectly understand and relate to it) for Stewart to claim that he doesn't think about how his show is perceived or that it is only a comedy show. The question has come up for him so many times previously that he can't rely on being humorously disengaged as a defense to analytical criticism of the political, media and social messages in his show.
posted by peacay at 11:58 PM on April 29, 2007

Thanks for posting this; I would have missed it... as it won't be aired here in the UK.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:30 AM on April 30, 2007

I agree with dw - Paxman is still the best interviewer on the planet. I'd give nearly anything to see him in a 1-on-1 with Mr Bush.

Having said that, I'm a huge Daily Show fan (I just wish More4 would carry The Colbert Report as well as TDS) and I think Stewart is often purposely awkward for comedic effect. His interview with John Bolton was surreal.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:29 AM on April 30, 2007

I was so glad to see Bill Moyers back last week with "Buying the War" - the show was phenomenal and the after-show chat on crashed within 8 minutes from overflow traffic. That meant it got a lot of viewers. It warmed my heart.

What I didn't care for so much were the semi-high-profile left-wing bloggers who immediately after the show went to the chat to chew out Moyers for not including blogs in "Buying the War". As much as I love the work the blogs do, I didn't feel blogs really had a place in the show, and I felt they were being opportunistic, to a certain extent. And now, seeing Moyers interview blogger faves Stewart and TPM's Josh Marshall, I see Moyers had already anticipated the bloggers' reactions, and while he included them peripherally, it's more than any other mainstream reporter would have done.

It makes me love Moyers even more.
posted by smashingstars at 5:20 AM on April 30, 2007

Moyers/Stewart 2008 ?
posted by specialk420 at 6:21 AM on April 30, 2007

Wierdo: "ZachsMind has sold his account." can do that? How much you think I'd get for it? Cuz I could really use the money right now.



PeaCay: "a little bit disingenuous (although I perfectly understand and relate to it) for Stewart to claim that he doesn't think about how his show is perceived or that it is only a comedy show."

Stewart has no choice. He has to take that position. It's like if he were the butt-half of a pantomime horse, and reporters started walking up to him while he and Colbert were doing their pantomime horse schtick going, "gee willikers Mister Stewart you guys really do this pantomime horse thing really well but don't you think you're really being more like an entire zoo than just a horse?"

Even if they were doing that on purpose, Stewart would have to say "No really I'm just the butt-half of a pantomime horse doing my job. Will you leave me alone please? I'm trying to be horsey. Your microphone cord might trip me up."

Stewart's just trying to be horsey. Back in feudal times when a jester showed the king and his court to their faces what was wrong with the kingdom, he'd end up put in the stocks unless he did it with such humor and veracity as to bowl the king over. Colbert, Stewart, and their whole team of humor wranglers... they're just modern jesters. They're just VERY good at being horsey.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:28 AM on April 30, 2007

That was the most lucid interview I've seen in recent memory.
posted by pepcorn at 6:59 AM on April 30, 2007

Zachsmind is onto something: by reflecting our culture back at us in such an insightful way, their 'little comedy show' has been elevated to the position or moral arbiter. That it was the first show Kerry went on after winning the nom (instead of Nightline, etc) speaks volumes.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:39 AM on April 30, 2007

Not to mention the fact that if Stewart were to ever slip up and acknowledge that he's running a news/journalism show, the once-fawning media dogs would hold him & his little show to the highest news standard immaginable -- the kind of standards O'Reilly, Larry King, and the rest of the sub-par infotainment clones ought to be held to, but aren't, except by the likes of Moyers. "You think you're a journalist now, eh Stewart? Then what was that little piece with John Meyers the other night? Jessica Simpson's boy-toy counts as news now? Pandering're no better than all the rest of us."
posted by junkbox at 8:35 AM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

but I don't think he's that great an interviewer.

I think this was true during his first few years on, but I think he really got religion about this after his abysmal interview with Rick Santorum a couple of years ago. I think he's improved by leaps and bounds since then. The Bolton interview was bizarre, but that had less to do with Stewart than it did his odd interview subject. Last week's interview with John McCain was one of the most gripping and effective takedowns of a current political icon that I have ever seen. I can't recall the last time I saw a politician of McCain's stature just completely shut down like that. Jon had some excellent questions, and even when McCain turned into a tree stump, Stewart was still going for it. Even though they did devolve into talking over each other McCain was exposed, once and for all, as having nothing.

It was a job Mike Wallace might have been proud of.
posted by psmealey at 9:39 AM on April 30, 2007

Ooh. Good point JunkBox. The fact that Stewart purposefully insists on keeping the bar lowered allows him to get away with more. If he accepted the 'compliment' that the media is trying to bestow, then they'd start accusing him of all kindsa things, but by keeping the bar low and offering more than 'just a comedy show' he comes out ahead.

It's like when Gonzales goes up there and pretends to be braindead. If the congress buys it, that it was a miracle he made it to work every morning at all and found his way to his desk without falling into an open manhole, then Gonzales comes out ahead.

Of course, nobody's buying that, and I don't know how long Stewart can pretend to be just a comic doing a satire, before we refuse his explanation and acknowledge that The Daily Show does news better than most news shows. Would that mean The Daily Show would stop being funny, or would that raise the bar on all the news shows? Or would actual news shows start trying to *gasp* be funny themselves? Oh the horror, the horror.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:06 AM on April 30, 2007

Stewart must have some understanding how he has become an Important Person in American politics and media. I think he's also desparately trying to avoid fulfillment of that role because the moment he does, he loses his greatness and becomes part of the opportunistic media whore culture whose absurdity has mandated that someone like Stewart come along.

Stewart's a fine comedian, and a poor interviewer, but what makes him great is that he still has the same common sense as most of America, namely (and regardless of your personal politics) that something has gone very obviously and seriously wrong with the country. I know of no reasonable American who would have had a problem remarking on the relevance of 150 dead Iraqis on the day of the Virginia Tech shooting, yet on national television Stewart is the only person who can get away with it, and even then sheepishly.

So when Stewart says, "No really, it's just a comedy show" he's really saying "No, we're just talking about the things that matter to any average joe with compassion and intelligence and if things weren't so terribly absurd, this wouldn't have to be done within the context of a comedy show."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:09 AM on April 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think we've spoken of this before, but I reiterate..

Jon Stewart is a Fool.. and I mean that only in the most respectful of terms. He had embraced one of the most ancient of roles.. that of pointing out the foibles of our Emperors, and that they frequently forget to put their clothes on. I have an enormous respect for him, and I thought the interview was well done.
posted by elendil71 at 10:31 AM on April 30, 2007

I've had the deepest respect for John Stewart ever since the sobering show that was right after 9/11. I kind of wish Moyer would have worked that one into the interview much like his other serious moments (as well as the Crossfire interview which while was pretty awkwardly funny, was really something I believe made *some* positive change at CNN...maybe a teeny bit)

Thanks for posting this! I really think its moments like these that we will look back at for perspective on where we were. That's saying of course, that we're able at all to look back.
posted by samsara at 11:54 AM on April 30, 2007

The Marshall interview is on YouTube in 4 parts, btw.
posted by homunculus at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2007

A year or so ago I got a present in the mail from my mom - one of those "Jon Stewart for President" tees. While I appreciated the gesture, I hate to wear it because I think it just feels simple. There's an important distinction between Jester and King, and I don't believe we do ourselves a service to switch those rolls. Plus I'm an anal little prig when it comes to politics, and I don't like the idea of turning the '08 election into a glib "LOL I like his show it's fnny" catchphrase, so the problem's entirely with me. I also just generally shy away from wearing anything with a statement on it to begin with, but I digress.

In any case, I'm wearing the shirt today because I need to do laundry, and I see this clip, and for once I'm proud to display it. I swing by the Strand (bookstore) on my lunch break, and the cashier compliments me on it. I get it, finally, and decide out of respect to this immensely funny, genuine guy, that I'll stop taking shit so seriously for a bit.

There's a lot of back and forth going on here about whether he's a good interviewer or not. I guess, technically, his form leaves a lot to be desired. He stumbles a bit, and talks over people, and often-times is clearly looking for the punchline instead of the follow-up. Still, he's my favorite interviewer because he forces his subjects off of their usual game. Bill O'Reilly will bully anyone who he disagrees with, right from the start, and to hear people tell it, he gives off the impression that he could snap and physically attack them at any moment. It's not an interview - it's a battle. Barbara Walters will play that roll of therapist/dissapointed mother with the cloying faux-sincerity that makes me want to vomit. The Late-Nite guys will joke along with you as you plug your latest and then get off the stage. None of them, however give us a real picture of the subject the way that Stewart does.

For one thing, he starts every interview with actual respect. He's the cheerleader, screaming their name and getting the crowd excited. The crowd is, of course, relentlessly liberal. For anyone who hasn't been to a taping, about 90% of the studio audience is made up of NYU and Columbia kids. Still, when the audience turns on an interviewee, Jon is quick to protect his guest. I doubt you'd get the same out of O'Reilly, or Hannity, or many other partisans. He makes people comfortable, and excited (There's an old show with Sarah Vowell as the guest where she essentially acts like a giddy schoolgirl the whole time. She's articulate, of course, but you get the feeling that she's never felt so cool in her life as she did on that couch.) He has zero respect for talking points, and refuses to shape his questions to them, but hey - it's a comedy show - so his guests get the feeling like it's okay to say what they really think for a minute.

And when they don't, and they stick to their script - that's when you see Stewart come out swinging. The man's greatest asset, aside from his sense of humor, is his hair-trigger bullshit filter. When that alarm goes off, it is unmistakable, and it puts the guests into a very uncomfortable position. It isn't like the staged (or maybe real- I don't know) anger that O'Reily manufactures in his "No-Spin Zone." O'Reilly wants to shut down his guests; to win; to play the honest guardian of truth in discourse. With Stewart, it's more like he truly cares about the show, puts all of his efforts and energy into it, and wants the interviews to be about something more than mutual back-scratching. When Stewart's bullshit-alarm goes off, it's like he's truly hurt and disappointed that the guest decided to use him and his show for the airtime. And he won't let them get away with it. So the guests are forced to either capitulate on t.v. in the age of youtube and sound-bite politics, or try to run out the clock, grinning like a schmuck while every second of the interview has Stewart essentially asking why the guest would disrespect him so much as to come on his show and lie through his teeth.

In other words, Jon Stewart's style is to respect his guests enough to expect a lot out of them. Which brings us to McCain.

McCain long held his place as every Democrat's favorite Republican. Sort of an anti-Lieberman. We didn't agree with him, but we liked him and trusted him. Jon Stewart liked and trusted him, this being back in the day when the "Straight-Talk Express" wasn't a sad joke. The only problem is that McCain didn't want it. He's a conservative, and wants to be taken seriously by his own party. Hell, in '04 a lot of people were hoping he'd run as a Democrat. We were so "anyone-but-Bush" that we believed our interests were in line with a man from Bush's own party, just because he'd run against Bush before. So McCain ran back towards Bush in order to restore his image, and in doing so sold out everything that the left loved about him.

Stewart didn't want to take him down. Stewart liked him - probably still likes him - but this time suddenly felt betrayed by one of his favorite regular guests, and he couldn't let it slide. SO there was McCain, a politician once repsected for his honesty and straight-talk, a "disagree with his beliefs, but not with his conviction," kind of guy, and Stewart had to shut him down within the confines of his own new focus-group soundbites.

TDS and Colbert are a powerhouse not just because of the passion and genius of their stars, but because they have Viacom paying out the ass for them to call bullshit on, among other things, Viacom. They can keep doping this for only as long as their rating support it, and their ratings will support it only for as long as they continue to be, first and foremost, comedy shows, and only as long as Stewart and Colbert see temselves as something other than the news journalists that they hate so much. SO it might be legit, and John Edwards might announce his nomination there, but it's still Comedy, which is nothing to sneeze at.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:29 PM on April 30, 2007 [9 favorites]

On preview: That was really long. Sorry guys.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:31 PM on April 30, 2007

That's OK, Navelgazer. I think you pretty much nailed it.
posted by jaronson at 3:45 PM on April 30, 2007

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