The Daily Show, RIP

 

yoo_torture-and-stewartBoth conservative and liberal commentators are marking the passing of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, the premier liberal talk show on television. My appearance in January 2010 has been offered as one of the few examples where a conservative beat Stewart at his own game (which Stewart conceded on his show the following day). Conservatives praise the appearance (see Dorothy Rabinowitz in today’s Wall Street Journal and Gerard Alexander in the New York Times), while liberals feel I got off too easy (see Time’s website).

I’m bemused that, of the thousands of episodes that Stewart has done with probably just as many guests, my amateur appearance has taken on such mythic status. I enjoy thinking of the all the hate mail that Stewart received from lefties who accused him of taking a dive in our mano-a-mano cage match. There are some lessons here for conservatives who have to respond to a hostile media:

1. Know your material. It is no idle boast to say that I knew the issues about interrogation, Gitmo, drones, and the War on Terror better than Stewart. He could ask questions that young producers prepared, but he didn’t have the time or interest to study up. A host may want to use the opportunity to score with a snarky comment, but you have the chance to deflate them by laying out your arguments with sweet reason.

2. Stewart is a comedian and entertainer. Many talk show hosts are the latter, though unfortunately not the former.  The show presented an opportunity to give the facts and walk through the arguments. I had the chance to take Stewart and his audience through how we in the Bush Administration thought about gathering intelligence in the wake of the surprise 9/11 attacks. I think we acted reasonably under the circumstances; if others would have done otherwise, that is their right. We are seeing now what happens when an administration with very different views on terrorism and foreign policy has its chance to make these hard decisions.

3. Don’t repeat the same three talking points no matter what the question. I think this is what allows hosts to get an advantage on guests — they expect talking points, so they prepare to push beyond into new areas. I understand that some guests worry that the whole point of talk shows is to generate gotcha sound bites. If you’re risk-averse, that creates an incentive to just repeat the same safe statement over and over again. But I think the better approach is to listen to the questions and answer them directly. There’s no need to appear quick with a pre-programmed answer. I think it’s better to pause, think, and answer a question just as you would if it was coming from anyone else.

As Jon Stewart calls it a day, all I can say is: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make my case to your audience.

 

Published in Culture, Entertainment
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  1. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    love.

    • #1
  2. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    At an end this show is, and not short enough it was.

    • #2
  3. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    I can’t be the only one who’s never seen this.

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/flktqb/exclusive—john-yoo-extended-interview-pt–1

    • #3
  4. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    That is the only episode of that show I have ever seen. I shall watch no other guest.

    Now, I have to find part 2 of that show.

    Eureka

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/7coohr/john-yoo-pt–2

    edit: this viewer notes that these clips are ‘heavily edited’ and that the link to the Jon Stewart apology is the unedited footage. ;)

    • #4
  5. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    John Yoo vs. Jon Stewart:  Hardly the first time Stewart met an intellectual superior (I have a feeling many of his conservative guests would qualify), but easily the stupidest he has ever looked.

    I loved that Stewart had to resort to literally pretending to be too stupid to understand what Yoo was talking about.  It is a classic.

    • #5
  6. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Jules PA:That is the only episode of that show I have ever seen. I shall watch no other guest.

    Now, I have to find part 2 of that show.

    Eureka

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/7coohr/john-yoo-pt–2

    edit: this viewer notes that these clips are ‘heavily edited’ and that the link to the Jon Stewart apology is the unedited footage. ;)

    There is not enough editing in the world to make Stewart look like any less of an idiot.  I’d love to see him as a guest on Law Talk.

    • #6
  7. Kim K. Inactive
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    Too bad Stewart never had Richard Epstein on the show.

    • #7
  8. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Jules PA:I can’t be the only one who’s never seen this.

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/flktqb/exclusive—john-yoo-extended-interview-pt–1

    No Jules, you’re not.  I’d never seen it.  Not because I’m not a John Yoo fan, but because I never really watched the Daily Show.  A guy mugging for the camera and then making his voice go squeaky as he raises his shoulders in order to make a punchline.  Yeah.  No.

    • #8
  9. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Kim K.:Too bad Stewart never had Richard Epstein on the show.

    epic.

    Yoo, Epstein, Senik and Stewart.

    3 men and a baby.

    • #9
  10. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    “You are the most charming torture writer I’ve ever interviewed.”

    Jon Stewart, Jan 11, 2010

    • #10
  11. dialm Inactive
    dialm
    @DialMforMurder

    I’m inconsolable with grief right now.

    • #11
  12. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Great interviews.

    My husband and I were watching some television program in which a terrorist was being waterboarded. My husband turned to me and said, “You know, there have been only two known cases of waterboarding. You’re actually in far more danger of being waterboarded if you’re a Hollywood actor these days.”

    • #12
  13. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    dialm:I’m inconsolable with grief right now.

    from your interior NSA surveillance camera

    nanny cam

    • #13
  14. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Gee, I thought Stewart was “just a comedian”. Why would he be concerned about “nailing” someone? Oh, right: because he’s a partisan tool.

    • #14
  15. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    I’ll just say that I found Stewart’s closing line of the original interview, given his original goal, quite classy: “I hope someday you get the chance to write–humane briefs.”

    • #15
  16. Redneck Desi Inactive
    Redneck Desi
    @RedneckDesi

    It is amazing how much press that Jon Stewart receives. Echo chambers are loud. The daily show averaged at most 1.5 million viewers. Political shows that averaged more include Megyn Kelly’s show which averages 2-2.5 million, and entertainment shows like the Fallon show average over 3 million. I am glad that blow hard has left the stage. And of course, John Yoo rocked it as always.

    overrated!

    • #16
  17. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Ryan M:There is not enough editing in the world to make Stewart look like any less of an idiot. I’d love to see him as a guest on Law Talk.

    He’s not smart enough to be on Law Talk. Or, to be more precise, he does not act smart enough to be on Law Talk. I can’t rule out the possibility that he is smart enough and that he could hold his own if he stepped out of his television persona. It’s possible that he is identical to his TV persona or that he’s been playing a goofball for so long that he has become what he appears to be.

    • #17
  18. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Ryan M:John Yoo vs. Jon Stewart: Hardly the first time Stewart met an intellectual superior (I have a feeling many of his conservative guests would qualify), but easily the stupidest he has ever looked.

    I loved that Stewart had to resort to literally pretending to be too stupid to understand what Yoo was talking about. It is a classic.

    It’s the same as every other left-prog questioning Prof. Yoo. Stewart simply refuses to let go of the myth that it’s a settled question that what the Bush administration did (particularly waterboarding) was torture. He’s either incapable of or unwilling to accept that the actual question is, “How far can we go without crossing into torture?” His befuddled reaction when Prof. Yoo spelled it out for him in almost those exact words says everything.

    • #18
  19. Shelley Nolan Inactive
    Shelley Nolan
    @ShelleyNolan

    Way to go John Yoo!

    • #19
  20. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Mike LaRoche:At an end this show is, and not short enough it was.

    Someone point me to the grave, so I can take a whiz on it.

    • #20
  21. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    When he made his apology, Stewart used a bait/hook/reel-’em-in analogy. That’s exactly the analogy I thought of when watching the broadcast: “C’mon, John ain’t gonna take that bait.”

    And you didn’t, ever. I think Stewart is probably fairly smart, but if a schlub like me could see through to the hook in every one of Stewart’s “questions,” he’s either not so bright, or he is used to talking to people who can’t see the hook lurking within the syntax of seemingly amiable conversation.

    • #21
  22. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    fishing in sand was what Stewart said, but the fact is John Yoo was a sincere and intelligent guest not to be fished. Stewart cut Yoo off so many times that we never heard even half of the statements that would have strapped Stewart to the wall.

    I read a FB comment about someone, “where am i gonna get my news now? Truthful journalism in a comedy setting. Yeah, he called people out.”

    When I read stuff like that, I hope only the 3 million who watched his show believed it. From what you hear in the media, you’d think everyone in the world watched that show.

    • #22
  23. Eeyore Member
    Eeyore
    @Eeyore

    Jules PA: I read a FB comment about someone, “where am i gonna get my news now? Truthful journalism in a comedy setting. Yeah, he called people out.”

    When I read stuff like that, I hope only the 3 million who watched his show believed it. From what you hear in the media, you’d think everyone in the world watched that show.

    But I don’t think it’s an irrelevant, random 3 million. For instance, take some large percentage of the very most active in the Democrat GOTV effort, as well as some of the major Democrat operatives. If you ask them “Where do you get your news?”, I think Jon Stewart would be disproportionately represented.

    Whether he just reflects their biases, or helps form, direct and inspire them, I don’t know. But these are dedicated, successful players on the political stage. Most likely, to paraphrase Ahnald, “He’ll be back!”

    • #23
  24. Tedley Member
    Tedley
    @Tedley

    Like others, I hadn’t seen the interview. I’m very glad I did. You did a great job presenting your points, and did so without any of the gotchas or “in your face” comments which seem so prevalent on tv. Bravo!
    I must admit that I was surprised by Mr. Stewart’s total ignorance regarding a couple of important matters.
    – He was dumbfounded when you told him that you had never met President Bush. It just goes to prove that he doesn’t have any experience nor understand how a large organization works. I wonder how many on the left share his ignorance of this?
    – He couldn’t grasp the concept of a graduated scale of measures which can be employed against an enemy. As anyone in a military unit or police force learns, there must be rules of engagement which spell out the types of force which can be used against an opponent based on the situation. What you prepared was basically the same thing, but covering interrogation techniques. What he didn’t grasp is that these rules were designed to ensure that our interrogators wouldn’t violate any of our laws or the treaties to which our nation is a party.

    • #24
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