And this is why I love Jon Stewart…

by alphamonkey on October 4, 2007 · 9 comments

in Uncategorized

Stewart vs MatthewsI try very hard to avoid posting television clips simply because hey, you probably have a television. Anything I can contribute in that regard is frankly a little redundant. However, I’m going to break with that not-really-a-rule this afternoon to post this interview of Chris Matthews by my not-really-a-secret mancrush Jon Stewart.

Unlike Stephen Colbert, who brilliantly sends up positions he finds ridiculous by taking them to their most illogical extremes, Stewart has to walk a finer line because well, he’s not a character. It’s the fact that Stewart displays his convictions so nakedly that gives the show so much of it’s power, but that element can often work against him in an interview, as Stewart doesn’t have the facade of a cartoonish character from which he can distance himself afterwards.

I’m showcasing this clip because this rather combative interview with MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews gives great example as to how Stewart’s sincerity sometimes works in the world’s favor. To whit, Matthews’ newest book (which likens life lessons into political campaign jargon) obviously tweaks Stewart’s sense of decency to the point where he simply finds no reason to allow his show to become a platform from which Matthews can shell his pseudo-philosophy. It’s a brilliant insight into what Stewart is willing to do in terms of truly thumbing his nose at those he perceives as contributing to the poisonous nature of our culture.

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  • Savage

    I was most surprised when I saw this on TV, as I’ve never seen Jon act that way and I thought it was great!

  • elkciN

    Man, it’s scary just how important TDS has become. Having PRESIDENTS on now, that’s just crazy talk.

    I did manage to catch this one on the TV, and yes, it was glorious. It’s interesting to see an interviewer actually take a position, in this day and age. Plus, Chris Matthews is kind of a jackass, and someone needed to do it.

  • rmurdoch

    So let me get this straight: Jon Stewart invites a person on his show presumably to do a book interview. Jon proceeds to insult the book and and the person while not allowing the person to explain themselves to any degree. And people are lauding Jon Stewart for this? Did you guys think that the infamous “Fuck Bush” editorial was another example of quality journalism? Jon has come across as a closed minded (campaign = bad), rude person who doesn’t even have the ability to attempt to relate to a person and understand them. Maybe that book is a steaming pile of shit, maybe its not, maybe its something in-between. All I got from that “interview” is that Jon Stewart does not approve of it.

  • .alphamonkey.

    Jon Stewart saves most of his invective for journalists, if you haven’t noticed. They’re the one crowd he’s simply unwilling to give softball interviews (William Kristol, Juan Williams, etc). He holds them to a damned high standard, so I’m not surprised when they get blindsided by him (even though they should certainly know it’s coming).

    If you watch the clip closely, you can see that in the beginning he’s honestly trying to have an honest debate regarding the philosophical merits of Matthew’s book, but shit like Matthews trying to liken the whole thing to Clinton getting laid in college just ups the ante for Stewart to not back down.

  • schisis

    I think it’s a good example of one of the keys to The Daily Show’s success- rather than sensationalizing everyday events like most other television news programs, Stewart focuses on what’s ridiculous in the world and puts it back into an everyday context. It’s a common theme on the show- Stewart throwing his comedic lasso around the nutjobs like Chris Matthews and reining them back in to reality. Matthews is just another dude shilling for a book to make some cash- which Stewart subtly points out by describing how empty the book seems to be.

    Not that I’ve read it- but based on the drivel spewn in this clip, I don’t need to.

  • Adam

    I kinda gotta agree with 3rd comment, but not completely.
    Is it disrespectful as a host to lash out like that at a guest, just because you disagree with their opinions? I’d say yes, but that’s just me. I guess if it’s exciting, gets rating, pumps peoples’ emotional/political blood-vessels, then it’ll keep on happening.
    Stewart has the advantage that humor is on his side. His show is meant to be funny. If he wants people to go along with him, he laughs at what the other person is saying, and cracks a joke that also reveals something he feels about the subject. The audience laughs because they like him, obviously why they came onto that show.
    Guess all I’m saying is this – I haven’t read the book. And I’m guessing a lot of people will see this clip and think “Hell yeah, Jon Stewart!” without actually knowing what the book in question is truly about. There were no direct quotes of the book. Just the author trying (in vain in my opinion) to describe what he has written, and the host continually belittling his words with quips and laughs. All I heard in the interview is “I’m trying to say this” and the reply each time was “No, you’re saying this instead!”.
    Food for thought – if Jon Stewart was replaced by Bill O’Reilly, and the interview was not changed at all, it was just O’Reilly talking and mocking Matthews, how differently would this interview be perceived? Would the person supporting Stewart still support O’Reilly because, it’s the same words and opinions, just in the different person, right? For some reason, I feel that people perceive words and feelings different depending on who their coming from. It’s so much easier to love the comedian than the politician, even though both are completely capable of being as much a hypocrite and swindler as the other.
    But those are just my thoughts on the topic.

    • Mary

      Wow, that was incredibly well put. I didn’t think anyone could cast a shadow on my love for Jon Stewart. Thanks.

  • happiness in slavery

    ok, to explain a bit of what shouldn’t need explaining, but does. jon stewart is not a journalist. he has a show which does some journalistic pieces, mainly to point out the utter sham that 90% of actual journalism is. it’s a comedy show, as such, he gets free reign. these are the cultural rules the daily show uses to their advantage. jon’s called out mccain for pussing out, betraying his personal beliefs, and playing to the republican base in a desperate attempt to get elected. tds routinely implies or outright states that dick cheney is pure evil. there can be little question regarding their leaning, if not the details of jon’s personal stances. they also feel a strong obligation to their audience to call bullshit when it needs to be called, and the premise of chris matthews’ new book is bullshit, although it is also true. the interesting part of it for me as a cog in corporate america is that millions of people already live every day as if their lives were a campaign. what i think jon’s point is is that’s depressing because it promotes the exact values that lead to scandals like iran-contra, enron, steroids in baseball, the stolen election, and blowjobgate. politics plays to the lowest common denominator, the worst of what humanity is, and not the best of what humanity can be. all that is required to be successful is plausible deniability and intimate knowledge of the minutia of the law that allows you to do things which are not righteous, but are allowed. this is not limited to left or right wing. all politicians are liars. all politicians have ulterior motives. all politicians work for their own gain under the guise of the greater good, and you and i are no different. we are all politicians already and the matthews book plays to that. altruism is dead. charity is dead. nobility is dead. the only hope lies in sovereign citizenship. the future gets bleaker by the day, strap on your hardhats, cats. we are in hell.

  • s

    Happiness in Slavery: exactly right. What you wrote is beautiful in its insightfulness and it is exactly what I read into the interview. Also completely agree re: lowest common denominater rather than focusing on the best humanity can be.

    Out of interest, do you feel the same after the 08 election? I for one, feel much better about American politics now (though obviously it still contains politicians and people who think like C Matthews). It doesn’t make my stomach turn so much anymore, and it feels easier to focus on the important things in some ways. Are we still in hell? 😉

    Anyway, just chiming in to say that you are have phrased my thoughts almost exactly and in a much more articulate way than many people inc myself could ever hope to accomplish.

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