Latin America

Slow-Pitch Softball with Evo


Apropos my Wednesday anti-Jon Stewart rant, the New York Times TVDecoder blog reports that The Daily Show today launched a website independent of Comedy Central which houses a massive archive of clips dating back to when the show was funny (i.e. the Colbert years). CNN says that "Videos of every skit, every joke and every guest are available for free, fully searchable on According to Comedy Central, 13,000 videos will be stored in the database." (Will this include Craig Kilborn's stint as host?)

Featured on the front page of is Stewart's embarrassingly sycophantic interview with Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales. Stewart, the scourge of American politicians, plays slow-pitch softball with at the divisive revolutionary leader: "You promised to nationalize resources and help distribute money to the poorer folk in Bolivia; convene a constitutional assembly and institute agrarian reform. You did that within eight months of your election!" And, of course, his trademark, "lets love one another" incoherence: "We have a tendency to group South American leaders. If you visit Castro, if you visit Chavez, then we all of the sudden, I think, get scared. So that understanding and dialogue is important for us to open up as well."

Stewart, mostly in serious interviewer mode, doesn't find time to ask about recent strikes in La Paz, the Cuban dissident illegally expelled from the country for criticizing Morales, or his controversial, Chavista-like statements about the private media. As The Economist recently observed, "Morales calls the media the 'main adversary' of his government and wants to hold them accountable to the people. On June 5th the judiciary staged a one-day strike to counter a presidential assault on its independence."

Update: The embed code from Comedy Central is screwy. Here's the direct link

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  1. You know, I never really liked the guy.

  2. Maybe Stewart thought he was talking with Ponch. That is some awesome hair.

  3. He looks like a guitar tech for Herman’s Hermits

  4. Can’t find a link (what, my word isn’t good enough?) but Comedy Central has said they are working on the Kilborn shows and they should be ready in the beginning of ’08.

  5. Moynihan, I think that you are just trying to win reason’s informal “my posts get all the comments” competition by putting up posts that you know will get joe all riled up.

  6. This place used to carry Stewart’s water. What happened? Is South Park next?

  7. ok, this Reuters link mentions the Kilborn shows.

  8. A week or two later Stewart had on Vicente Fox, where Fox proceeded to bash Morales. That interview is on their front page too.

    Stewart responded something to the effect of “See, you make a lot of sense to me right now. When Morales was on, he made a lot of sense…”

  9. Episiarch,
    Errr, maybe. But I was actually pretty stunned by that interview. I mean, if Stewart doesn’t take any cheap shots at a guy who nationalizes industry at gunpoint, I’ve lost all faith in him. That said, I still really enjoy the show, just not when he gets into Mr. Serious Interviewer mode.

  10. I like Stewart, but I also miss Craigers.

  11. This is stupid. Jon is not always the best interviewer because he tries to be respectful. Is Michael accusing Stewart of supporting socialist /authoritarian governments? You are not going to get guests if you are belligerent. Stewart has demonstrated his anti-establishment liberalism cred enough times.

  12. Does Stewart take cheap shots at *anyone* he has on the show??

    If anything, he’s the anti Papa Bear, and given the choice, I’d take him every time.

  13. Kilborn was just like Stewart. Only relevant. And really funny.

  14. Stewart, the scourge of American politicians…

    This is getting really silly. Stewart is consistently sycophantic with political leaders.

    The fact that you don’t point out Stewart’s sycophantic interviews with Pervez Musharraf and Henry Kissinger, both men (especially Kissinger) guilty of crimes that make Morales’ misdeeds seem minor in comparison, is somewhat consistent with your tendency to attack bad (or even merely annoying) behavior by leftists while ignoring it when it comes from those on the right.

    First today, Ms. Mangu-Ward finds time to write about the shallow hypocrisy of a teenaged columnist, and now Mr. Moynihan reminds us that he’s really annoyed with a TV comedian who sometimes gets to badly interview world leaders.

    I really think there are subjects much more worthy of your talents.

  15. dating back to when the show was funny

    Oh, c’mon. The Aasif Mandvi bit about the Armenian genocide last week was freaking hilarious.

    “Spain had it’s Inquisition reduced to an informal Q&A. And Britain has done more than enough to earn it’s ‘Boston Misunderstanding’.”

  16. I still really enjoy the show, just not when he gets into Mr. Serious Interviewer mode

    Of course not, because he is jettisoning the whole comedy concept when he feels that the interview is “important”. This marks him as a shitty comic. Good comics do their thing in any situation, no matter how they personally feel about it. That’s part of what makes Colbert so superior to Stewart.

    Plus, I hate asslicking of any sort, and Stewart does it a lot.

  17. “I really think there are subjects much more worthy of your talents.”

    That is, as they say, a pipe dream.

  18. Stewart, the scourge of American politicians, plays slow-pitch softball with at the divisive revolutionary leader

    The scourge of American politicians? Moynihan, have you ever watched a Daily Show episode? Or maybe looked over the transcripts of his interviews with American politicians? How about those four (at least) times he’s interviewed McCain?

  19. Judging by that picture, those Menudo reunions are getting more and more depressing every year.

  20. Jon Stewart is an anagram of Start Jew On.

  21. I just started watching the show again, after a number of years abroad so, in my defense, I haven’t seen the interviews with Kissinger (who, I agree, deserves both barrels), etc. I have seen him be rougher on McCain (who also really, really deserves it…see Matt Welch’s book and brilliant take down in the magazine), though. That said, I have been reading column after column on Stewart’s influence on the American political debate and I am just a little baffled by it, to be honest. But the mob has spoken…no more Stewart posts.

  22. I mean, if Stewart doesn’t take any cheap shots at a guy who nationalizes industry at gunpoint, I’ve lost all faith in him.

    Whereas not taking any cheap shots at a guy who cans Supreme Court justices so he can stay in office (Musharrif) is just fine.

  23. The problem with when Stewart goes into “serious” mode is that criticism via humor is what he’s good at. When you remove the satire all that is left is run of the mill moderately-well-thought-out liberalism combined with a bland and differential interview style that’s no worse or better than the standard cable new talk show fare.

  24. I suppose I should do a full audit of all his interviews. If you click on the link, Morales is the first interview on the left. I didn’t exactly go seeking it out. And it’s not a left or right issue, as a mentioned in the piece the other day, though J.S. clearly tilts to the left and most of the people I have seen him rip were on the right…But then again, most all of them deserved it (i.e. Bill Kristol)

  25. I think it says a lot about the current state of political discourse in America when Jon Stewart gets the reputation of being “embarrassingly sycophantic” because he is respectful towards those he interviews.

    Stewart’s recent interview with Tony Snow was amazing to watch – two guys with very different political stances getting along while disagreeing? What?

  26. Just remember – the insistence on jumping all over anybody who doesn’t immediately act like Castro was worse than a dozen Hitlers is just a coincidence – it’s not evidence that Reason tilts to the NRO wing.

    And Batista was like the George Washington of Cuba. Don’t forget that.

  27. But the mob has spoken…no more Stewart posts.

    Naah, Michael, feel free to take some more swings at Jon when he takes himself too seriously, and forgets he’s running a comedy show, and that liberal politicians can also be jackasses who deserve to be skewered — that conservatives don’t have a monopoly on pandering and statism — just space the rants out more sparsely, mmm-kay?

  28. Also worth noting is that the majority of Stewart’s interviews are of people who are really just promoting their latest book or movie. So it’s probably understood that Stewart is not going to be too hard on them.

  29. I’m really excited by the Kilborn news. Daily Show was actually pretty funny back then. Especially the correspondents. The Joycelyn Elders interview the chick correspondent did was classic. Can’t wait to see it again.

  30. Count me among those who isn’t really seeing the point of this anti-Stewart forced contrarianism. He’s always been a late-night talk show host. He’s always been fairly affable and non-confrontational (and funny). Taking him to task for this is just feels beside the point.

    It is true that Stewart is a source of huge media fascination, and possibly true that he has some influence on national political discourse. But this has never had anything to do with his sharp style or willingness to speak truth to power.

    Rather, it’s because he frequently tweaks the obvious vapidity of the supposedly serious media outlets, and because he is generally pretty good at calling out obvious bullshit. If you look at his shining moment — the interview with Tucker Carlson — all he did was point out that Carlson is a pompous dick. Which was totally fucking awesome.

    In fact, Colbert’s routine is very much of a piece with Stewart’s, although they obviously have different schticks. And if you read articles where they’re interviewed together, it’s clear that they fire on the same cylinders.

    So, um, yeah, Jon Stewart is not the second coming of Edward Murrow. Roger that.

  31. It’s really just as well that he didn’t do hardball because Jon Stewart does an awful job at hardball. Even when trying to be tough he gives wide openings, and covers a too broad range of topics without giving enough pressure on any of them to force the interviewee off their talking points. When he interviewed Tony Snow last week, it seemed like he was actually unaware that Snow would be prepared for the questions he asked. Small wonder he became a talk show host and not a prosecuting attorney.

  32. People watch the daily show for comedy not hard hitting news journalism. Sure every so often Stewart puts on a newsman’s mask but give him a break. He’s just trying to get laughs.

  33. Of course, Jon Stewart will never have the opportunity to do hardball with a governing libertarian because Libertopia doesn’t exist, and libertarianism on any scale that might implicate libertarians in actual failures has never been tried. He could do hardball with some keener libertarian fanatic like Ron Paul, but there wouldn’t be much point. Ron Paul has never had to take responsibility for actually implementing any of his more radical policy prescriptions. It’s easy to have clean hands if you never manage do fuckall except spout off.

  34. It’s easy to have clean hands if you never manage do fuckall except spout off.

    I’m guessing Edward has some very clean hands…

  35. Dewces:

    Stewart has demonstrated his anti-establishment liberalism cred enough times.

    Remember, anti-establishmentarianism and anti-authoritarianism are two very different things. We know lefties and liberals are all anti-establishment, but what they’re not is anti-authoritarian. The latter is the exclusive domain of libertarians.

  36. Stewart is a hack and this thread is troll central.

  37. Evo looks like someone who enjoys Brawndo & EXTRA BIG ASS FRIES

  38. Does anyone remember his interview with Jennifer Love Hewitt when Garfield the Movie came out?

    He bashed her far worse than he did Kristol or Matthews. While he is respectful to John McCain and John Kerry even when the show has bits making fun of them. He disagrees with Tony Snow, yet the two had a cordial interview.

    My point? From the interviews I’ve seen, he gets frustrated with the pundit class because he feels like they can see through the spin and the crap just as well as he can yet they seem to pretend that they don’t. Politicians and their flacks are expected to pander, while the media is supposed to help us see through it, not just point to both arguments and say “here’s both sides, figure it out”.

    Or in the case of Chris Matthews, “here I am in the middle of an Ann Coulter and Fred Thompson sandwich. Figure out who I find sexier.”

  39. When Morales was on the show he used a translator, so it took longer for him to communicate and Stewart seemed to conduct the interview in such a manner as to maximize Morales’s time to talk. (After all, it’s not often the show gets world leaders.) I don’t think Stewart wouldn’t have been hostile even if Morales hadn’t used a translator, but don’t mistake being accommodating and polite for being “embarrassingly sycophantic.”

  40. Ashish George — I’m not sure whether Stewart was kissing ass with Morales or whether he’s so liberal that he couldn’t decode such phrases as “agricultural reform” for what it really means — “stealing private property and distributing it to your political supporters under the pretense of justice”. I frankly think it was the latter — Stewart is so liberal that he can’t even imagine the hard questions that he ought to be asking.

    I don’t think politeness is synonymous with “failing to ask tough questions using a courteous tone of voice and body language”.

  41. libertarianism on any scale that might implicate libertarians in actual failures has never been tried.

    Dunno, seems like the libertarian move to abolish the draft has worked out fantastically well. Seems like every move to implement a sliver of a truly libertarian agenda has worked out well, which implies we ought to do even more of that. Anyone want to try giving a counterexample of an unambiguously libertarian idea that was tried and failed because it wasn’t workable?

  42. Seitz said: “Oh, c’mon. The Aasif Mandvi bit about the Armenian genocide last week was freaking hilarious…”

    Hear, hear!

  43. Trey parker AND matt stone a pair of perverts and their nasty COMEDY CENTRAL

  44. “…the interview with Tucker Carlson — all he did was point out that Carlson is a pompous dick. Which was totally fucking awesome.’

    Actually, I think Stewart was looking in the mirror at the time.

    This thread proves exactly what critics of Stewart’s painfully unfunny show have been saying all along: he’s an irrelevant, overrated asshole. His defenders always claim he is so indispensable because he is not afraid to criticize politicians and speak the truth, no matter what. But as soon as people call him on his sickening ass-kissing, of a socialist goon no less, his defenders immediately claim he is only a comedian. You can’t have it both ways. Either he is a fearless purveyor of truth, or he is a kiss-ass comedian. Which one is it?

  45. “We know lefties and liberals are all anti-establishment”

    What fucking bizarro world are you living in?

  46. Of course Morales is a revolutionary. That is what Bolivia needs. It goes way beyond left vs right, socialism vs capitalism. This is about Indians, the MAJORITY, taking back what was stolen from them 400 years ago. It is finally their time. So butt out!

  47. Re: The Daily Show

    The Senior Black Correspondent is pretty damn funny.

  48. I think you guys are being a little too hard on Jon Stewart… he has been consistently funny and made a lot of valid criticism of American politicians and media figures.

    That said, I think he’s in over his head when he has foreign leaders on his show and I don’t really expect him to be well versed enough on their politics to be able to ask the right questions… and he really should just avoid having them on as guests all together.

    The interview with Morales was uncomfortable and pointless.

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