Jon Stewart has spoken up about how satire, fake news and the media in general did or did not help to elect Donald Trump President of the United States. He did so in an interview with The New York Times Talks.
Stewart sat together with Chris Smith, author of the new book, “The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests.”
Some people are saying that if Jon Stewart had only continued to host “The Daily Show” through the 2016 elections it might have helped Hillary Clinton, but the comic is not so sure of this himself.
— TheDailyShowTheBook (@TDSTheBook) December 3, 2016
He told Times TV critic James Poniewozik, “I think that generally is satire’s role and has always been: the rise and fall of civilization at our whim. I would have probably allowed Hillary to come a little closer in the Rust Belt, but I still think I would have given Michigan to Trump.”
As for the media’s role in the election, Jon Stewart contradicted those who say that news networks like CNN helped Trump win by giving him an unprecedented amount of coverage, “Trump didn’t happen because CNN sucks, ” Stewart said. “CNN just sucks. He happened because that’s the push and pull of this nation at all times. It’s a push and pull between nativism and a more inclusive multi-cultural approach.”
Stewart was also dismissive of people who say that all of Donald Trump’s supporters are racists. “Not everybody that voted for Trump is a racist. I don’t give a f*ck what any of you say to me. You can yell it at me, you can tweet it at me. They’re not all racists. Or they’re not giving tacit support to a racist system. We all give tacit support to exploitative systems as long as they don’t affect us that badly.”
About the book itself, Jon Stewart talked about how “The Daily Show” is just satire and that too many people forget that fact when talking about his supposed influence on voters.
“I think of one of the lessons of this book and what we’re talking about is to put satire and culture in its proper place—that controlling a culture is not the same as power.
He also admitted a failure on his part with regards to videos that he aired mocking groups like the Tea Party saying, “the lesson there is, as much as I love what we did and I liked it, there is a self-satisfaction there that is unwarranted, unearned and not useful.”
— TheDailyShowTheBook (@TDSTheBook) December 2, 2016
The book includes interview with Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carell, Lewis Black, Jessica Williams, John Hodgman, Larry Wilmore, John and Cindy McCain, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, and many more.
USA Today said of it, “Smith, a contributing editor at New York magazine, weaves an often artful, if occasionally unwieldy, combination of interviews, asides and segues with classic scripted moments from Stewart’s tenure between 1999 and 2015.”
“It’s an insider’s look, for sure, with all the protections and discomfort that affords. Friction and strife between Stewart, staffers, the network and guests are all mined and discussed in detail but with a polite patina that suggests even the most candid moments are a bit muted or get a friendly edit.”
The New York Times’ review was more biting saying, “Mr. Smith lets hero worship and repetition slow the book’s momentum. And doses of snark from embittered ex-staffers sound like exactly what they are. Different editing priorities — filling in gaps, cutting out overlaps, keeping in mind a more general audience — would have made for a book that caught more of the lightning of ‘The Daily Show.’”
“So this otherwise detailed book (want to know Mr. Stewart’s opinion of the White House’s M&Ms?) requires a lot of acrobatics from Mr. Smith. He omits transcript material that’s important to the show’s history. For instance, he cites Mr. Stewart’s best-known disembowelings of guests or interviewers Mr. Stewart has found morally repugnant but doesn’t describe what was said.”
“The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests” by Chris Smith and Jon Stewart is available in hardcover with a list price of $30.