"Jon Stewart"
Inside Politics
May 3, 2002
Hosted by Judy Woodruff


Shanley Chooses Not to Fight Extradition to MA; Bush Urges Senate Democrats to Act Quickly on Judicial Nominees; Interview With Orrin Hatch

[Non-Jon material edited.]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: From Comedy Central's world news headquarters in New York, this is "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: From Ralph Nader to yours truly, we turn the tables on Jon Stuart of "The Daily Show," next.

WOODRUFF: Jon Stewart and his unique spin on politics are usually seen on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": How come you're funnier than me?

(LAUGHTER) STEWART: That doesn't seem fair, does it? So you could do my job easily, I could never in a million years do yours.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, unless you have -- well, I won't mention the qualifications that are necessary.

STEWART: To be a senator?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, to run for president, if you're a United States senator, unless you're under indictment or detoxification, you automatically consider yourself a candidate for president of the United States.

STEWART: I didn't realize that. Which one of them is under indictment or detox? I'd be interested to hear about this.

MCCAIN: The 99 other jokers. (LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: You would qualify, without a doubt.

STEWART: I appreciate that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Jon Stewart and his qualifications are all here to go "On the Record." Jon Stewart, thank you for being with us.

STEWART: What a wonderful program that looks like.

WOODRUFF: You need to watch that program sometime.

STEWART: I really should. How are you?

WOODRUFF: I am well. It's good to see you again. We thank you for stopping by.

STEWART: Thanks for having me. My pleasure.

WOODRUFF: Now, how much fun is it for to you talk to politicians? Or is it?

STEWART: It's a little nerve-racking, because they certainly know a lot more about the subjects than I do. So I get very -- and I get tripped up with actors. You know, I'm always saying, so, your movie opens up on Friday. No, actually it opened up the week previous to that. Right, right, I should read my notes.

But it's fun. Guys like McCain can really speak extemporaneously. A lot of politicians actually will never move off the script, I'm sure as you've seen. And that's not fun for anybody.

WOODRUFF: Well, there are news people who don't move off the script, too.


WOODRUFF: Now, you've had John McCain on. We know you've talked to Ralph Nader. Who are some others that you've had on that, you know, you've really felt...

STEWART: Senator Lieberman was on.


STEWART: Although his breath, quite frankly, a lot of Manischewitz. I could smell it.

We had on quite a few. Senator Dole was our political correspondent during the conventions. And he had a lot of insight. For instance, I would say, who's that guy in the brown jacket there?

He'd go, "Oh, that's George W. Bush. He's running." So he was the one who would clue me in on a lot of the information.

WOODRUFF: If you could pick anybody or any group of people you'd like to talk to, who is on your wish list? Who would you like to talk to that you haven't talked to already?

STEWART: Can I say Destiny's Child? I should probably say someone in the government, right? Someone important, like the secretary of -- I'd like to talk to Wolfowitz about this defense policy issue, or Destiny's Child, because they're hot. You know, it's difficult for me because I find that when you don't live in Washington and you're sort of out of the zone, your passions move very quickly in and out. You know, when the Enron story broke, that's what I wanted to talk about. You know, you want to go immediately after that. But we don't have access to those people. So we end up getting people, you know, a couple of weeks after the tide has broken.

WOODRUFF: How do you know when you go after a story, whether it's Enron or something like that, that it's going will be funny? I mean, can you just test it on your own staff and know for sure?

STEWART: I do the entire show into a mirror with a hair brush before the -- and whatever comes back to me. No, you don't know.

WOODRUFF: You'd like to get that on tape.

STEWART: Exactly. You never know. It's like music in some senses, that, you have a barometer, an internal barometer. And if it sounds right, if it doesn't sound like you're hitting the flat or the sharp notes. And that's why we write, we rehearse it. And we're really, like a machine. Every day it's geared towards 6:30, just getting on the air.

WOODRUFF: We hear more and more that your show and shows like your show are the places where young people are getting their news. They're not...

STEWART: I apologize for that. Who do I apologize to?

WOODRUFF: Well, what do you think about that?

STEWART: I don't think that's the case. I honestly don't think that young people can avoid getting news. I mean, news and information surround you almost on a molecular level these days. I think that kids get it by osmosis more than anything else.

And if you don't inform yourself, or have some sense of what's going on, our show won't even make sense to you. Because we don't honestly give very good information. You were there. We're basically very reactive.

WOODRUFF: But you talked about what happened in the world that day. For example, you've talked about the Catholic Church situation.


WOODRUFF: You did talk about Enron.

STEWART: Which, by the way, I know that it's a tough situation for the Catholic Church and I do understand. What I'd like to propose to them is, just give up the molestation for Lent. Just try it for 40 days. See how that goes. A trial period, if you will.

WOODRUFF: I can hear in the control room.

STEWART: Is that the giggling? I can't even believe they're back there. I always assumed that the control room, that this was like some sort of green screen B roll. I didn't know those people were actually there.

WOODRUFF: You didn't know there were really people in there.

STEWART: Yes. You know what's weird? When I first walked in, they were all playing quarters, which I though was strange, for a news organization. But, yes, you don't know when it's going to be funny. But for us to make references to those issues, unless you have a larger understanding of those issues, it won't make sense.

I don't imagine people are watching the show saying, hey, the Catholic Church is having some sort of a row? What's going on over there?

WOODRUFF: But you naturally are read in. I mean, you read newspapers, you watch a lot of television. When you and I talked in New York, you had seen this show a couple of times, anyway.

STEWART: Oh, I see this show all the time. I watch this show -- we keep CNN on 24 hours a day. This is, unfortunately, our show is purely reactive. We don't break stories. We have no infrastructure, as far as -- I mean, you saw, we don't have real reporters. We have a green screen.

And we put up -- "what are we doing today, Ramallah? OK, find a picture that looks like Ramallah and put that up there." So we have to wait for a situation to break and insinuate itself into the public consciousness before we can even deal with it. Because you can't make jokes about something nobody knows about.

WOODRUFF: It's quite extraordinary. Now, speaking of CNN, there was something you said when I was on your show a few weeks ago.

STEWART: Am I being fired?

WOODRUFF: Here's something I want to you watch, then we're going to have somebody comment on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: Is this Blitzer? Here's a present just for Blitzer, still with the soup in the mustache? Is he cleaning that at all?

WOODRUFF: You know, I'll have to ask him. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: All right, now, you're obviously referring to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer.

STEWART: Hey, what's up?

WOODRUFF: We though we'd give Wolf a little equal time -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jon, no food in the beard at all. It's clean. We made a complete check before I went on the air. I need you to help me, though. The turn -- the turn from one camera to the other. I have trouble with that. I need your help on it. Can you show us how you do it?

STEWART: Listen, I helped Rather out. He came to my fantasy camp.

BLITZER: Give us a little turn.

STEWART: You want me to go one to two?

BLITZER: Yes. From one camera to the other, I want our director to follow you.

STEWART: Now, are we changing from a serious story to one of those heroic dog type things, or -- what stories are we switching to?

BLITZER: We're exchanging from headlines to Lewis Black.

STEWART: All right. Here we go. Those were headlines. (LAUGHTER)

STEWART: But it's -- you got to make...

BLITZER: Let me try. STEWART: You want me to tell you why, Wolf? It's all about the audience, baby. It's all right here.

BLITZER: Jon, I'm going to try it right now. OK, let me try it. Tell me how I'm doing.

STEWART: Loosen the eyes, baby.

BLITZER: Those were headlines. How was it?

STEWART: Yes, that was very nice. (LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Do you think, Jon, that he has a future in this business?

STEWART: Not really. Not that I can see. You got to realize...

BLITZER: You could have put a tie on for this show.

STEWART: I do, underneath. I wear all my stuff underneath. I drove down today from New York. I barely made it. I got caught in a whole cavalcade of stuff, as I was coming through town.

BLITZER: Well, all of Washington will want to see you tonight.

WOODRUFF: That's right. He's at the Warner Theater in Washington and he is at a theater in Philadelphia...

STEWART: It's a big Pen rally. Everybody come on down. (LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Do have you any idea how so many French politicians are that conservative -- DeGaulle, Le Pen, DeLay? They're all terribly right wing anti-immigrant people.

WOODRUFF: We'd love to have you stay on for the whole show.

STEWART: Oh, I'm staying.

WOODRUFF: But you've got to go get ready for the Warner -- oh, he's staying? He's going to go get ready for his appearance at the Warner Theater tonight and in Philadelphia...

STEWART: Tower Theater tomorrow night, yes. Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: Jon Stewart, great to have you with us.

STEWART: The Wolf thing, you know, there's nothing you can do about that.

WOODRUFF: I think only if he shaves.

STEWART: Yes. Affirmative action is a wonderful thing and I'm glad he's got a job. (LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: OK, Jon Stewart, thanks. Wolf, you get equal time the next time, too.

BLITZER: Thank you.



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