Jon Stewart Betrayal Update: Concha Gets It Right

Jon-Stewart-and-BarackLast night Jon Stewart finally commented on the reports of his meetings at the White House, and by his smug demeanor and evasiveness, confirmed the assessments of Ethics Alarms and many others.  Joe Concha of Mediaite nailed it:

“Well, I mean, I don’t know if they were secret,” the 52-year-old said last night while pointing out his name (which one?) was clearly on the visitor logs. It all sounds so much like Stephanopoulos explaining that his donations to the Clinton Foundation that were also there for all the public to see… buried on his tax forms. All I know is this: If I met with the president and hosted a program which primarily focuses on politics, pretty sure I’d let my audience know at the very least that what had happened. Unless, of course, I have to carry out my PR orders in a way no White House Press Secretary or Sunday talk show appearance ever could…Why attend a meeting with the most powerful person on the planet if you can’t report back what was said? In the end, these people are there not for an interview, but for instructions. And that’s exactly why Stewart took the Acela down to DC: To come back to New York and serve as the Baghdad Bob of arguably the most influential news program—forget that it’s billed as fake—on the dial right now…No matter…Stewart will get the Letterman treatment next week when he leaves The Daily Show, and rightly so. He didn’t earn $25-$30M a year for hosting a show four days a week for nothing. His timing, delivery and intelligence is something you don’t teach or learn.

In the end, Jon Stewart will be looked back on as one of the great performers of our generation. He’s also one of the more dishonest, and about as phony as they come.”


20 thoughts on “Jon Stewart Betrayal Update: Concha Gets It Right

  1. Jack,
    Saying that it’s dishonest is one thing, but insinuating a plot you (or mediaite) can’t prove is despicable. I’m with you up and until the point that you say he’s a propaganda machine, Obama mouthpiece, etc. We still haven’t the faintest idea what went on during these meetings, who called them, or what was discussed. Perhaps Obama had a particularly difficult trivia question he wanted answered, perhaps Stewart had engaged in an affair with Michelle and wanted to come clean, or perhaps we’ll never know.

    A lack of full disclosure can be proven, accusations of malice can only be inferred. How quickly a story can change from unanswered questions to unsubstantiated guessing …

    In other words, you’re better than that.



    • I think the issue is that nobody has come up with a plausible explanation for why Stewart didn’t talk about the meeting on his show that doesn’t involve something sketchy. The alternatives you came up with just now were not very plausible.

      Even if they’re just hanging out as friends, that’s a bit of a conflict of interest for someone who would be obligated by integrity (journalistic, political, comedic, take your pick) to criticize someone who really (badly) needs it. The very least he could do is admit he’s friends with the president and will take it easy on him.

    • Who suggested a plot? It’s simple: He’s allowing the powerful to influence what he represents as independent commentary, and isn’t being forthright about it. It’s not a plot. It is a betrayal of an audience that has been sold the tale that the guy is an independent truth-teller, and he’s not, that’s all. If he were, he wouldn’t have behaved like this. He’s being seduced by power and his own ego. Oldest story in the world.

      • I disagree that he has been “sold as an independent truth teller.” Truth teller, maybe, but definitely a liberal.

        • Independent and liberal are not exclusive , and if you reflexively read “independent” to mean “no party affiliation” you are too obsessed with politics. He has represented himself as a progressive commentator who is giving his own views,uncontrolled or programmed or dictated by anybody else…you know, independent…like the Declaration of Independence declares the nation to be.

    • One thing that seems a sure bet – Jon Stewart didn’t call the meetings.

      I get the argument that we don’t know what was said, and therefore cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stewart was being, in the words of Mediaite, “dishonest” and “phony.”

      But you have to admit, based on the totality of the circumstances, it looks that way. Even allowing a great deal of latitude, it looks very suspicious. The President didn’t call Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh to the oval office for talks. As far as I know, he also didn’t call in Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann in for a meeting either.

      Jon Stewart paints himself as an equal-opportunity social critic who leans, but does not live, to the left. Now, we have reason to believe that he does, in fact, live on the left. A genuine liberal social critic, Camile Paglia, evaluated Stewart thus in a recent interview at Salon:

      Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that’s my standard–a comedy of personal risk. And by that standard, I’m sorry, but Jon Stewart is not a major figure. He’s certainly a highly successful T.V. personality, but I think he has debased political discourse. I find nothing incisive in his work. As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he’s partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States. [my emphasis]

      I think we’ve seen this writ large via the revelation of his meetings with Obama, and her evaluation makes perfect sense in that light. She’s much more perceptive than I.

      To me, your argument rings of cognitive dissonance, but to be fair, I haven’t read enough of your comments to be confident of that suggestion.

    • Huh? Why are people saying this? Independent means nobody is pulling his strings, and he is definitely NOT just a comedian, any more than Bill Maher, Denis Miller, Rush Limbaugh…or earlier, Mort Saul, Will Rogers and Voltaire. Its a little late to be making that argument…like 12 years or so.

    • We know better than that… Stewart has on several occasions been a mover and shaker in politics, more so than any other person from a ‘legitimate’ News organization. But what he’ll do is once he’s said or done something that goes just a little bit too far, or when someone tries to hold him accountable, he retreats to his emergency clown nose and talks about Puppets Who Kill for a week. He has the self awareness to know he has that clout… See what he did for the 9-11 responders or to Crossfire… Why don’t you?

      • Well, sadly, I think the answer is that Stewart’s fans have adopted the same dishonest “clown nose on/ clown nose off” defense that he has employed from Day I to avoid both the accountability of a pundit/ journalist (which he is) and the relative impotence of a comic (no matter how hard Conan or Jimmy skewer a poll, it isn’t taken seriously). This is why I stopped watch the show and stopped respecting the man years ago.

    • Neil, you are purposefully being obtuse and ignoring the facts you do not like. The appearance of impropiety is often times more important than the impropriety.

      Since Stewart targets an audience of my age group and younger, I have had the misfortune to run into swaths of people who get all of their news and opinions from Stewart. They know he is a comedian but he is trusted.

      This brings into question every single comedic joke he has ever said or any factual evidence he has used on his show. Can you imagine how up in arms you would be if Rush Limbaugh had hidden meetings with any republican president? It is the exact same idea. He isn’t a journalist but he is a trusted man.

      We will never be able to trust Stewart or Obama about what has happened in those meetings. Not without tape evidence. You know? Like the Watergate tapes?

      • Not spin at all and false analogy on your part. Obama has appeared on the Daily Show A LOT. Can you say the same for O’Reilly?

        So, if they did conspire, it wasn’t a very good conspiracy because everyone knows they are friends.

        Next up — George Steph. had a secret lunch with Hillary last week! Now, at least George pretends to be a “real” news anchor, but I would still file that under the “tell me something I don’t already know” category.

        • I don’t know they are friends. Why do you presume that, because they smile at each other? Because Stewart is jovial? Again: an independent pundit has an obligation not to cozy up to his targets. One of the major theater critics in this town told me that if he didn’t have to review my theater’s shows, he would like to get to know me better, but he can’t without creating a conflict of interest. Why should pundits be held to a lesser standard than theater critics?

          And re: George…how pathetic. So if we know that he’s biased, that’s OK? Bullshit. If he’s biased, he needs to be pulled off the campaign reports.

            • @Beth,

              Everyone doesn’t know about it. That’s the point. It’s something that it seems like Stewart would have talked about on his show, and definitely should have disclosed.


              You aren’t using the word conspiracy, but that’s what you are alleging. At least, an appearance of conspiracy. Hidden coordination is conspiracy.

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