'The Daily Show' Producer Admits "Blind Spots" on Race

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Wyatt Cenac, Jon Stewart

"One of the reasons that these topics are generally good fodder for us to deal with at the show is because they’re difficult to talk about," an executive producer of the show said in an interview.

The Daily Show producers elaborated on Friday about a 2011 argument between former show writer Wyatt Cenac and host Jon Stewart that made headlines this week after Cenac spoke about it. 

Executive producer Steve Bodow stated that there were "blind spots" when Cenac was a writer, "and I'm sure there still are now," he told The New York Times.

"One of the reasons that these topics are generally good fodder for us to deal with at the show is because they’re difficult to talk about," Bodow told the paper. "There’s tension around them."

Bodow continued, "But I would never say that we were perfect or without fault on any of that stuff,” he added. “And the incident with Wyatt was a real reminder of that."

A fellow executive producer, Jen Flanz, told the Times that because the show tackles hot topics, including religion, gender, race and sexuality, "sometimes uncomfortable debates" arise.

"Nobody wants it to get out of control the way that particular discussion did,” Flanz said. "And I’ve been here for 16 years, and I can count on my hands the times that it even got close to that. But they are healthy debates."

On a recent episode of WTF With Marc Maron, Cenac, who was the only black writer during the time that led up to the 2012 election, admitted that he and the Daily Show host did not get along during his four-year tenure. Cenac recounted a specific incident when he addressed Stewart about an impression the host did of Republican candidate Herman Cain that he found offensive. 

"I raised a concern, like, 'Are you sure you want to do this?' ... [Stewart] got incredibly defensive. I remember he was like, 'What are you trying to say? There’s a tone in your voice.' I was like, 'There’s no tone. It bothered me.' ... And then he got upset. He stood up and he was just like, 'F— off. I’m done with you.' And he just started screaming that to me, and he screamed it a few times. … 'F— off! I’m done with you.' And he stormed out. I didn’t know if I had been fired," Cenac recalled.

Cenac said he had an emotional breakdown following the argument: "I was shaking, and I just sat there by myself on the bleachers and f—ing cried. And it’s a sad thing," he said. "That’s how I feel. That’s how I feel in this job: I feel alone."

When asked during the podcast if he will attend Stewart's final taping (after he was invited by the host via email where he "kind of apologized as much as he could"), Cenac replied, "probably, yeah."

Stewart's final episode of The Daily Show will take place on Aug. 6.

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