"Jon Stewart Interview"
Connie Chung Tonight
June 24, 2002
Hosted by Connie Chung


[Edited to keep Jon content only]

Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, is there anything in the news that's funny? Comedy Central's Jon Stewart barges onto the anchor desk. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEWART: Now who's making excuses? (END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: They made America proud in World Cup soccer, but just who are they? You'll meet them when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT return. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHUNG: Newspeople, including me, know that thousands of our viewers just sit at home criticizing us, making fun of us. It's OK. It's your right. But one guy not only makes fun of news anchors and newsmakers, he does it on national television day after day, night after night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW")

STEWART: Let's do some headlines. Come on!

You like that? An independent -- you're allowed to laugh by the way.

What? Now, let me say this about the FBI. Lay off people! It is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and they investigated. Conclusions are a different department. By the way, the CIA also screwed up. We'll be right back. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart not only gets paid for his antics, he gets critical acclaim too. You got a lot of nerve.

STEWART: I got to tell you, Connie, first of all, congratulations. Second of all, that clip wasn't edited at all. That's just what I do. I dissolve. I dissolve into myself. It's an honor to be here...

CHUNG: Thank you.

STEWART: Especially following arson and pedophilia. Really, I couldn't ask for a better...


... really a wonderful setup for me. I can't believe you don't have a guy on who eats people, really, right before me. Perfect comedy set-up.

CHUNG: Be my guest, you know. You're allowed.

STEWART: I couldn't possibly. Congratulations, very, very lovely set.

CHUNG: Thank you. I mean, you really mean that, don't you?

STEWART: No, I really do mean it. It's very nice.

CHUNG: What do you like about it?

STEWART: I like the fact that they put money into it. Now I work on cable as well and my set is -- I like to call it...

CHUNG: I think your's is fine.

STEWART: What's the word I'm looking for? Crepe paper. It's made of crepe paper.

CHUNG: Oh, no. No, no, no. It's nice.

STEWART: It's very nice.

CHUNG: Van Nuys. My parents used to live in Van Nuys.

STEWART: And you have free sodas?

CHUNG: We don't. But we have...

STEWART: You had pizza (ph) back there. You had all kinds of stuff.

CHUNG: Yes, we did have that. You know what? That's for the team that's coming out a little later.

STEWART: No, it's very nice. It's very nice that they're treating you with such great esteem and respect and putting the money in and I, in no way, am jealous of that at all.

CHUNG: Yes, you are. I can tell. Do you like the jib (ph)?

STEWART: You have a jib (ph). You've got (UNINTELLIGIBLE) plasma screens...

CHUNG: That's right. How did you know that?

STEWART: There's an X-Box.

CHUNG: Right. What's an X-Box?

STEWART: You don't know what an X-Box is?


STEWART: Oh, it's a magic box that takes you back in time. It's a gaming box. It's like Nintendo, Atari. You don't play any of that?

CHUNG: No, I don't.

STEWART: Oh, what do you, read, is that what you do. You're a reader?

CHUNG: No, my son plays with those little things.

STEWART: And how old is he?

CHUNG: Seven. There you go.

STEWART: Well, that's what I'm saying. That's my demographic. You have yours. Let's just call it a day!

CHUNG: All right. Your news, you say, is fake.

STEWART: Yes, that's correct.

CHUNG: So what's so funny about the news or is it the people who present the news that you make fun off?

STEWART: It's no so much funny. No, it's not. I mean, we obviously do topical humor about situations that are going on, you know, those sorts of things. But it's not so much funny. It's more what makes us sad or angry about the news, and then we try and turn that into something that could be considered humor or satire or a poem or a song, that sort of thing.

CHUNG: Because there's such a fine line between...

STEWART: It makes us crazy. You know what it is? I don't think that these networks are built to be watched constantly in the way that I watch them. I have them on...

CHUNG: Which networks? You mean...


CHUNG: The cable programs.

STEWART: Yes. No, not this one.

CHUNG: What are they meant to be?

STEWART: They're meant to be watched like with the sound off at a gym. You know what I mean? Like when you're on a treadmill and you look up and then you read on the ticker, like, we're bombing Peshawar. How about that? One one-thousand, two-one thousand, three one- thousand. But you're not supposed to watch them all day long because the aggregate weight of what comes at you is devastating, diminishing. It's very difficult.

CHUNG: What aggregate weight?

STEWART: Well, just as an example. OK, you know bumpers in and out of commercial, like you do teases and things like that.

CHUNG: Right. Right.

STEWART: Just an as example, you know that one video shot of the World Trade Center coming down and that huge cloud of white smoke and people running for their lives?


STEWART: Yes, they use that as like a commercial on for 24 hours.

CHUNG: This is not funny. This is not funny. I'm sorry, Jon.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, no. But the excess of that speaks to something that could be satirized.

CHUNG: Which is?

STEWART: Which is that the people have forgotten that these are tragic images and they're using them as bumpers in and out of commercials...

CHUNG: I see. So what do you do?

STEWART: ... so by overloading that, we make fun of those kinds of things. Dirty bomb, that was a great example of excess. When the dirty bomb was announced, the first thing that happened is everybody went into dirty bomb mode. And everybody got on the phone, dirty bomb, we got a dirty bomb expert over there. What is a dirty bomb? Well, it's not this, and then they would show a nuclear explosion. It's not that, or it's not -- and they would, you know, basically just jazz everybody up until at the very end of it, they'd go, and in conclusion, this is not a very dangerous thing at all. It's like the old -- remember the old method that they used like, you won't believe that what's in your washing machine could kill you. You know, those -- the old scare tactics to get you to watch...


STEWART: You won't believe the bacteria in your bathroom. Well, yes, I would. I go to the bathroom in there. I'm assuming that's where most of the bacteria would be. So, it's using those things to...

CHUNG: I want to -- you know what I'm really curious about?

STEWART: Yes. Sagittarius.

CHUNG: No, no, no.

STEWART: This is real Lucite.

CHUNG: Gemini?


CHUNG: No. What I'm real curious about is have you been asked to take the place of Rather or Brokaw -- I mean Jennings. Brokaw is out of the picture.

STEWART: Are you serious? Listen, I barely get asked to take the place of Yakov Smirnoff. Like, I'm not -- you know, I would never get asked to take those. Those people are, listen...

CHUNG: No, but you're very good at anchoring. I'm telling you, you really are. You do it very well.

STEWART: Yes, three years ago I learned how to read and that has made a huge difference for me, to have everything spelled out phonetically has been an enormous help. People with wonderful journalistic credentials or credibility are a brilliant asset to this. I think that for our show, it's more about how decisions get made and how things are presented. And that's where we call our humor from for the most part.

CHUNG: All right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You know what?

STEWART: I have to leave.

CHUNG: No, no, no, no, no. No.

STEWART: You're going to bring the pedophile back in?

CHUNG: No, no, no, no. We're going to bring on some people that you will love to see, honestly.


CHUNG: When we come back, we're going to put you to work, Jon.


CHUNG: We'll both be joined by the U.S. soccer team coach and a couple of top players just back from their stunning performance at the World Cup.

STEWART: That's exciting.

CHUNG: You ready for that?

STEWART: I think so.

CHUNG: You used to play soccer?

STEWART: I kicked it around a little bit before the osteoporosis set in.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... speed, turns the corner, Donovan going middle. Deflected, into the middle, Donovan, scores! (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW")

STEWART: But before we do anything else, we must take you out right now to Au San (ph), South Korea. My God, the excitement is building for tomorrow's historic soccer match for the United States team. They take on heavily favored Germany, as you well know. (LAUGHTER) Heavily-favored Germany -- soccer? (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHUNG: A rare instance where Jon got it wrong. So, now Jon Stewart, anchor of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central and former college soccer player is going to show us what he can do on a real news program. Huh, huh, huh.

STEWART: I'm ready to do it.

CHUNG: And to put him on the spot, fresh from their thrilling performances at the World Cup, we have some key players from Team USA, Coach Bruce Arena and forward Brian McBride, who scored one of the three goals in the crucial game against Portugal; and midfielder Landon Donovan, who scored right beforehand. They made it to the quarterfinals, a far cry from Team USA's last place finish of 1998. And they arrived back home just yesterday. So thank you so much for being with us. I'll just give me five and five and five.


CHUNG: It's great. And as for you, OK. Tell me, you did Letterman tonight, didn't you? You taped it?

BRIAN MCBRIDE, U.S. SOCCER TEAM: Technically. I think it was a lot of Landon.

CHUNG: Really?

MCBRIDE: Landon did Letterman.

CHUNG: Did he hog?

MCBRIDE: No, no. He was, rightfully so, center stage.

CHUNG: So tell me, how does it feel to have your life kind of change, you know, because you're such stars now?

STEWART: I'll take this one. (CROSSTALK)

LANDON DONOVAN, U.S. SOCCER TEAM: We definitely didn't expect to be on CNN and we're happy to be here. And congratulations, by the way.

CHUNG: Aren't you nice.

DONOVAN: But it's awesome. We're enjoying it. We're having fun. We've been in New York kind of living it up, just going non-stop and it's fun.

CHUNG: So, people were making a lot of fun of you all. Don't you feel vindicated now?

MCBRIDE: Probably the biggest thing going in was this question mark on how we would do, especially after '98. For us, it really wasn't a matter of that. It was more focusing on the team and playing how we knew that we could play. And if we got the results out of that, that would be great. And it just so happened that we did and everybody stuck together.

CHUNG: Right. Coach, how did it become so different? I mean, this team compared to last time's team?

BRUCE ARENA, COACH, U.S. SOCCER TEAM: Well, first of all, we have an outstanding group of players and all the credit goes to the players. And World Cups are difficult. You know, this is the greatest sporting event in the world. The magnitude of the World Cup is incredible. Our team has been together on and off for the last four years. And we went into the tournament optimistic that we could play well. We opened up a great win over Portugal, which was a huge upset, and we had the momentum to carry us through. And we had a big win against Mexico. And then the...

CHUNG: Right. How about Germany? It was unbelievable.

ARENA: The game against Germany in the quarterfinals, we played quite well. We were a little unlucky, fell short, but I think overall we left a great impression not only for Americans, but around the world. And now there's a new earned respect for soccer in the United States.

CHUNG: Jon, are you OK? You're OK?

STEWART: No, listen, I played ball -- Coach Arena will remember, I played for William and Mary and UVA which was...

CHUNG: You mean he really does remember that?

STEWART: ... Coach Arena's team, used to beat us every year in the NCAA tournament.


STEWART: But the level of soccer that has come up is -- I mean, these guys are light years ahead of what we were doing. We used our hands. (LAUGHTER) We actually would dribble with our hands. It's a whole different game now.

CHUNG: Coach, is it true that a lot of the players from Germany came up afterwards and said you all should have won?

ARENA: A lot of them gave us a lot of praise after the game and said, you know, you guys were a little unlucky and you should have won the game today. So that meant a lot. But in all honesty, we would have rather have won the game and not have heard that, but that's life. But, you know, the thing now is that we're moving forward as a soccer playing country. MLS is beginning to receive the recognition they deserve. That's our domestic professional league that has not gotten the kind of attention I think it deserves. And they've really nurtured a lot of our players and have positioned to us be a team that's competitive with anybody in the world.


STEWART: No, they're great players. I enjoy watching it on the MLS. I was a little disappointed that when Landon scored -- I can't remember which game it was, he whipped off his shirt, no sports bra. Very upsetting. Brandi Chastain had set the mark there.

DONOVAN: Got to keep you on your toes.

STEWART: To see Landon just...

CHUNG: With nothing?

STEWART: But some of the goals -- I tell you, some of the goals that Brian scored especially were I think some of the prettiest goals that had ever been scored in United States soccer, certainly in international play. I don't know if you guys agree. I thought they were magnificent.

ARENA: I agree.

MCBRIDE: Definitely.

CHUNG: Do you think it's going to change, you know, how soccer is perceived here in the United States? I mean, isn't baseball attendance down and basketball attendance down? I mean...

DONOVAN: We've been working hard to make that happen.

ARENA: Perhaps a little bit. I think there's a built-in bias with the old regime of sports editors and people that cover sport. And there's always been a bias, and hopefully we can earn some respect from those people and allow the sport to get recognition. We don't claim, obviously, to be the sport that's going to take over from football, baseball, basketball, hockey. No. We're just another sport and a competitive support in an industry that I think deserves recognition. And hopefully our showing in the World Cup is going to do that for soccer.

CHUNG: Have you guys gotten any offers for endorsements?

MCBRIDE: I'm pretty laid back.

DONOVAN: Mr. Model.

MCBRIDE: My brother's my agent. So, I think there's a few more people behind this kid so...

DONOVAN: Actually, I just signed...

CHUNG: I mean, they're knocking on your door?

DONOVAN: I just signed a $150 million deal with Gatorade. So I'm really excited about that.

CHUNG: You're putting me on.

STEWART: I just signed, actually, with Diet Fresca.

MCBRIDE: Oh, that's Lipton. I was going to ask if you were one of the little guys.

STEWART: Oh, if I were at my playing weight.

CHUNG: I am so gullible, you know.

DONOVAN: Oh, you believed me, huh?

CHUNG: Absolutely.

DONOVAN: I wished I believed it too.

STEWART: He's 20, Connie, it might be coming. It might be coming for him.

CHUNG: What?

MCBRIDE: It might be coming for him.

CHUNG: Yes, or maybe you'll just be doing the Bud commercials. You know, how ya doing?

DONOVAN: I'm underage though.

MCBRIDE: Yes, he's underage.

STEWART: Are you going to go back to Germany and play or are you going to stick with the Earthquakes?

DONOVAN: Interesting question.

ARENA: Getting hot here!

DONOVAN: Yes. That will be discussed in the coming weeks, definitely.

STEWART: I think there's a lawyer in his earpiece.

DONOVAN: Yes, Landon, don't say anything.

STEWART: Don't answer that.

DONOVAN: No, we're going to see. You know, if it works out...

STEWART: That's exciting, that you guys get to...

DONOVAN: Yes, definitely.

CHUNG: Yes, you did great. We're really, really proud of you.

DONOVAN: Thank you.

CHUNG: All right. Thanks so much, Jon Stewart, Coach, Brian and Landon, thank you for being with us.



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