Good thing this did not work out

Gabriel Sherman says that NBC News aggressively courted Jon Stewart to take over the role of host of Meet the Press held by David Gregory when the latter was kicked out. NBC offered him practically anything he wanted but it did not work out. Sherman then goes on:

Though not a traditional journalist, Stewart can be a devastatingly effective interrogator, and his Meet the Press might have made a worthy successor to Tim Russert’s no-bullshit interviews.

This is so wrong. For one thing, Russert was a terrible host too. He was a disgustingly obsequious courtier for the ruling class who never challenged them on anything of substance but made a great pretense of being an aggressive reporter, an act that seemed to be good enough to fool Sherman.

The other is that Stewart is also a terrible interviewer of major political figures. His show does a good job of skewering them in his sketches but when they come on for actual interviews, he is terrible at it. Although I like the show, I actually don’t bother to watch those segments where he interviews political figures because it is frustrating to see.

Sherman also says:

It makes sense that NBC would make a run at Stewart. The comedian-cum-media-critic possesses something that broadcast executives covet: a loyal, young audience.

As [current host Chuck] Todd told a reporter last month, it’s a tough time slot for the young folks: “Are they rejecting the brand or are they just not getting up?”

I can answer that, Todd. I don’t understand why anyone, young or old, wastes their time watching those shows and the fall off has little to do with its time slot. I am amazed that you still have the viewership you have, even if it is dwindling.


  1. jimmyfromchicago says

    If they courted Stewart, they obviously haven’t been paying attention to what he’s been saying. He’s a comedian who spends a lot of time satirizing how the so-called “news” shows aren’t serious enough about their jobs. Hiring him would be a step backwards.

    Also, the fact that he is a comedian explains why you think his interviews are terrible. He, Dave, Conan and the rest are not supposed to do hard-hitting interviews on their shows.

    As for Russert, I like Fred Clark’s take on him: He would initially ask a tough-sounding question but never follow up to make sure his interviewees actually answered it–so, if you were ever stuck on MTP, all you had to say was “I believe in America, Tim.”

  2. Katydid says

    Jon Stewart would be a fool to leave a comedy show on a comedy network for an unwatched “news” program. Why aren’t younger people watching? Because it’s always the same thing–John McCain, the two-time political loser, whining and pointing fingers at other people.

  3. Katydid says

    One thing Stewart does well is to highlight a politician (virtually always a right-winger, because that’s their M.O.) self-righteously claiming something….then showing dozens of clips of them self-righteously claiming exactly the opposite.

  4. Mano Singham says


    Yes, but while Stewart does those clips well, he never does that in real time wile he is interviewing them and thus never puts them on the spot. The one time he did such a thing to devastating effect was with that loudmouth financial ‘advisor’ Jim Cramer. As far as I know, he has never done that with a major politician, though it would be easy to do.

  5. says

    While I agree Stewart is more conciliatory during in-person interviews as opposed to scripted segments, I am curious if you can think of any media personality that is more confrontational to both Democrats and Republicans (as opposed to just one or the other).

  6. Mano Singham says

    One Brow,

    No, there is no one that is confrontational with any major political figures. That is because they need these big names to appear on their shows again and again and so cannot afford to alienate them. I don’t think Stewart has the same pressure to not alienate as can be seen from the non-interview clips where he is quite harsh. I think he just does not have the dogged interviewing skills for this.

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