Comedian Jon Stewart turns tough

ST. PAUL, MN - SEPTEMBER 03:  Host Jon Stewart...

Image by Getty Images North America via Daylife

Former Bush speech writer Marc Thiessen may have thought his Daily Show appearance would just be part of the publicity tour for his book, “Courting Disaster.” But Thiessen, whose book defends the CIA’s post-911 “enhanced” interrogation programs, ran into a Jon Stewart who was both prepared and passionate about the issue.

Stewart took a tough and combative position.  Thiessen held his own. The result is 30 minutes of riveting (and occasionally funny) intellectual parrying, which pits Thiessen’s top philosophical priority, to keep America safe, against Stewart’s, to uphold the Constitution.

Was Stewart too pushy in interrupting Thiessen?  Or did the comedy show host set an example for reporters too often ready to let subjects off too easily instead of challenging their interpretation of the facts? You be the judge.

Whatever your conclusion, this fascinating interview is the kind of candid give-and-take between a conservative and a liberal that we need more of in place of the posturing that defines politics. Hats off to both men.

You can find the full interview on the Daily Show web site (be patient; you have to sit through an ad first) or all watch the 11-minute first part, without ads, on Salon.

About jerrylanson

I teach, write, coach and sing, though you're not required to listen to the latter. I'm a journalism professor at Emerson College in Boston. My third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves," was published in November by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. You can read a sample chapter at My passions are politics (generally liberal in outlook), music, mountains, golden retrievers and my grandchildren, though not in that order. Please stop by and mix it up with me. I always answer those who post.
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6 Responses to Comedian Jon Stewart turns tough

  1. rbrander says:

    Alas, Canadians can’t watch Comedy Central on the web, and our own version of the site, you can’t find anything.

    I watched the part that was on the air, and there’s little question that the guy was right: for the part that made it on the air, Stewart hogged the clock, at least FAR more than he usually does. He overrode the guy about as much as the reviled Bill O’Reilly does with his guests every day.

    Stewart was not, however, otherwise rude or in any way personally insulting, and he did, I think realizing his clock-time, apologize profusely and repeatedly to the guy.

    It was also clear that Stewart simply got carried away. He didn’t go in intending that.

    And – well, I’m not neutral – if any guest ever deserved that treatment, it was this, umm, person.

    One might say that after being too nice to both Rick Santorum and John Yoo, Stewart finally gave an opponent a tough time. (“Opponent” is just the only word for it in these cases.)

    If Stewart weren’t the guy that coined the phrase “it’s theater and it’s hurting America”, you couldn’t hold it against him. But with that CNN moment probably his most famous, he has to be very tough on himself about “getting carried away”.

    • Jerry Lanson says:

      Why can’t Canadians get on Comedy Central? Very weird. I actually felt the part on the web was the most interesting. The two of them had a real back and forth and clearly delineated their different perspectives. I suspect Stewart was in a particularly feisty mood because the current campaign to call Justice Department lawyers the “al-Qaeda 7” truly smacks of McCarthyism. It’s disturbing, and it’s where Stewart began.
      Thanks for weighing in.

      • rbrander says:

        It’s how they divide up intellectual property rights. Canada jealously guards its national TV cable networks, so you can’t get the American “Comedy Central” brand name in Canada. You have a Canadian corporation that, amazingly, buys nearly all their shows – but one-by-one. (We didn’t have Colbert for a couple of weeks after it started while they continued to bargain the price.)

        To keep the web from becoming a way around this, Comedy Central has its servers check whether you are querying from a Canadian IP address, and refuse to stream.

        I did eventually find the interview on our web site, despite its broken search engine.

        It was about as I suspected. Stewart let the guy’s claim that KSM waterboarding saved us from the Capitol Records Building plot. Which was broken up a few months before KSM was captured. Bush claimed that one, I believe, and Stewart made fun of it with that same date problem.

        I suspect the rest of his “KSM told us about” stories were equally bogus – this is frankly the first I’ve hears that KSM gave them anything immediately valuable. Bush would have been making a speech about each one as arrests were made, if so.

  2. rockyinlaw says:

    Terrible not to let Canadians see Jon Stewart. BTW he’s on HULU, too (the interview starts at about 11 minutes):

    Thank you for pointing to it, Jerry Lanson. Good viewing.

    • Jerry Lanson says:

      Thanks for the additional link.

    • rbrander says:

      Oh, Canadians can’t see ANYTHING on Hulu. Canadian companies have the “broadcast rights” to every show affected, so until Hulu cuts a deal with them, Hulu has to block us or get sued.

      Yes, its profoundly stupid. We know. We know.

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