Jon Stewart's Critical Indecision
Fans of Comedy Central's The Daily Show flock to Jon Stewart & Co. for their sarcastic slant on national politics. The Daily team tried summing up their raison d'être at the Television Critics Association press tour in Hollywood, where Stewart said: "I think having this outlet helps us from becoming the old, bitter people at the bar, shouting at the TV screen — which we hope to become anyway, someday."
This year, we can look forward to their irreverent coverage of the U.S. presidential race. Natch, they'll call it Indecision 2004, in the interest of upholding Daily's tradition. And the conflict between Dubya and his as-yet-unnamed Democratic opponent is already yielding juicy comedic fodder...
For instance, what does Stewart think of Madonna endorsing General Wesley Clark for Democratic nominee? "I think he's [expletive] her," Stewart cracked. "You know how chicks love a man in uniform, baby."
All jokes aside, this election is serious business for The Daily Show. "Even in our own fake, bizarro news world, we get a [ratings] spike when there's a real big news story that people actually care about," said co-exec producer Stewart Bailey. "We kind of hope that this is a close election, 'cause people will genuinely care. That's why [covering] Iraq was so good for us."
Arizona Sen. John McCain and others believe a significant portion of America's younger voters get more info from Stewart, MTV and various Web sites than from old-fashioned political reporting. Does this burden The Daily Show team with any sense of obligation to do something more than just amuse viewers? Nah.
"We don't think about it at all," Stewart said with a chuckle. "And I think if there's any reason why they watch, maybe that's it. Either that says something terrible about news organizations, or something terrible about the comedy we're doing, or terrible about teenagers!
"I think that's a fallacy, that they get most of their news from us," he added. "I think it'd be very difficult for them to find us [while flipping channels] and not absorb some [real] news along the way. There's so much information out there."