Stammering Jon Stewart

The New York Post editorial page has a rather unflattering portrayal of the comedian-talk show host:

Suddenly, Jon Stewart has developed a stammer. Or maybe that’s just the effect John Kerry has on him. The Democratic Party nominee for president reduced Stewart to jelly on “The Daily Show” Tuesday night, rendering the smart-alecky “it” boy of the summer campaign season unable to form complete sentences. And it wasn’t as if Kerry did anything special to jar the tongue-tied comic. All he did was sit down, and Stewart was like a deer caught in the high beams. “Is it a difficult thing not to take personally when — when they come out and — clearly your war record, it’s — it’s in the public files — so . . .,” Stewart blurted out in one of his many unsuccessful attempts to be understood.

“Right. I — I can imagine. When — when — uh, uh — these guys — were you surprised at all that — they went [unintelligible] — that they — that they — that they?” Stewart then struggled to ask.

“No,” answered Kerry, who could be forgiven if he didn’t understand the question.

The highly touted “interview” was ballyhooed as Kerry’s first on TV since the Bush campaign launched its TV-commercial assault on Kerry’s Vietnam War record. It’s possible stuttering Jon was trying to ask Kerry about that situation, but it soon became clear that this would not be an occasion for meaningful conversation.

Ironically, as he was appearing on a late-night comedy show staged four nights a week as a parody of TV news programs, Kerry bemoaned the fact that “intelligent conversation” is largely missing from the campaign. “I think most Americans would like to have a much more intelligent conversation about where the country’s going,” the candidate told the comedian. Yes, we would, senator, but that’s not going to happen if you accept interview invitations only from late-night comedians.


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. vdibart says:

    1) Regular viewers of the Daily Show can attest that this is Stewart’s style in an interview. It’s not stammering. In most cases (although apparently not this one) it’s a comedic ploy to hook the viewer in one direction and then deliver a punch line in another direction, and it works to great effect.

    2) Regular viewers of the Daily Show can also attest that it contains some of the most intelligent campaign coverage in the nation right now. They are apparently alone in the journalistic integrity required to see through each sides talking points and reduce the issues to the bare facts. Frequently the end result of this provides a laugh or two, and I’m willing to take that as gravy. But it certainly can and should not be dismissed as irrelevant or worse yet drivel.

  2. vdibart says:

    As a corrollary, 2 questions:

    1) Which media outlets has the president appeared on, besides the interview with Tim Russert that NBC won’t show (

    2) Last night RNC chairman Ed Gillespie was on the Daily Show (he’s actually a regular guest). I suppose this is an indication that the RNC dismisses this show as just a “late night comedy show” as well?

  3. dcthrowback says:

    Ed Gillespie isn’t running for President.

  4. bryan says:

    The highly touted “interview” was ballyhooed as Kerry’s first on TV since the Bush campaign launched its TV-commercial assault on Kerry’s Vietnam War record.

    I wasn’t aware the bush campaign had launched an assault on Kerry’s Vietnam War record. Is this further liberal bias? Did the New York Post just lie?