Jon Stewart says Oct. rally not about Beck
Emphasizes 'Sanity' stint is to mock political process, media
NEW YORK -- Jon Stewart said here Wednesday night that he and conservative commentator Glenn Beck have quite a bit in common and emphasized that his and Stephen Colbert's scheduled rallies in Washington D.C. next month are not planned as a liberal counter movement to Beck's recent "Restoring Honor" gathering.
Stewart also said in an on-stage interview at the 92nd Street Y that Fox News and its boss Roger Ailes are "brilliant" at what they do, but "stunned" that no other cable news network has found a way to compete with them effectively. CNN looks "like a clown car" next to Fox News, "The Daily Show" host told the big crowd in attendance.
Asked about the real reasons for Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" and Colbert's "March to Keep Fear Alive" at the end of October, Stewart explained that they are not a reaction to Beck specifically, but just another way to poke fun at the political process and news coverage of it.
"The march is like everything that we do, just a construct ... to translate the type of material that Stephen and I do," Stewart said, adding that he actually "very much" wanted to avoid any suggestions that it was a reaction to Beck.
The goal is not to ridicule political activism, Stewart emphasized.
Questioned about how often he watches Beck's Fox News show, Stewart quipped that he doesn't if he doesn't have to. "He's not our reason [of being]," he said. "He happens to be a phenomenon." And he said that he and Beck had quite a bit in common -- at least similar reasons for being in the op-ed business.
Asked if he worried about his rally possibly taking away from a march organized by the likes of the AFL-CIO, Stewart said: "Yeah, tough shit."
Helping unions or political organizations is "not my job," he added. "We are not warriors in their cause."
Discussing Congressional criticism of Colbert's recent Congressional testimony in character and comments that he should be embarrassed, Stewart said Colbert could at least feel embarrassment because he, unlike many politicians, "still has integrity."
But discussing what he sees as his main job, he said it is holding the media accountable. "I'm less upset about politicians than the media," he said, explaining that the former can be expected to behave a certain way, like a monkey, but the latter should play zookeeper and say "bad monkey."
Stewart also told the crowded room that his team is not engaged so much in journalism as in Googling. "We fact-check not because we have a journalistic integrity," he said. But "jokes don't work if they are lies."
When a written audience question arrived on stage that mentioned that "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" will eventually have to end, Stewart quipped: "Who said this? Is this how it happens? Am I fired?"
He then said the show is "invigorating," but also "exhausting," and he would eventually like to have more time flexibility as his kids get older. Stewart mentioned a return to standup as a possibility and said he has some ideas of what he could do next, but he didn't provide details of a possible time frame.
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