Friday, October 15, 2004

Jon Stewart rips into Tucker Carlson, Triumph loves Pat Buchanan

“I‘m a little disoriented, you know, because we live in this time where Pat Buchanan is voice of reason. “
- Triumph the Insult Dog, MSNBC October 13, 2004

It’s been a great week to see some fun political punditry on cable television. On Wednesday, right after the last presidential debate, I tuned into MSNBC’s “AFTER HOURS” show to see Triumph the Insult Dog sit in on a panel with Ron Reagan Jr. and Pat Buchanan. Hilarious stuff!

Note to NBC: Give this rubber dog puppet his own show! One of the best entertainers on the network!

There really should be a place where folks can see a replay of this show, but unfortunately, there isn’t one. Luckily, you can read the transcript.

Today, as I edited some projects, multi-tasking with the TV blaring in the background, I stopped in my tracks when Jon Stewart of the Daily Show appeared on CNN’s “CROSSFIRE” show. Like the MSNBC show a few days ago, it was exceptionally inspiring television, not intended to be repeated. In both cases, I didn’t even think about taping this stuff, but I wish I did.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s show:

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CARLSON: Didn't you feel like -- you got the chance to interview (John Kerry). Why not ask him a real question, instead of just suck up to him?

STEWART: Yes. "How are you holding up?" is a real suck-up. And I actually giving him a hot stone massage as we were doing it.

CARLSON: It sounded that way. It did.

STEWART: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility.

CARLSON: I felt the sparks between you.

STEWART: I didn't realize that -- and maybe this explains quite a bit.

CARLSON: No, the opportunity to...

STEWART: ... is that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity.

STEWART: So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous. I think you're...

CARLSON: "How are you holding up?" I mean, come on.

STEWART: No, no, no. But my role isn't, I don't think...

CARLSON: But you can ask him a real question, don't you think, instead of saying...

STEWART: I don't think I have to. By the way, I also asked him, "Were you in Cambodia?" But I didn't really care.

STEWART: Because I don't care, because I think it's stupid.

CARLSON: I can tell.

STEWART: But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows.

CARLSON: We're here to love you, not confront you.

CARLSON: We're here to be nice.

STEWART: No, no, no, but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us. And it's -- the idea is...

BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is -- if the indictment is -- and I have seen you say this -- that...


BEGALA: And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.


BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.

BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.

STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.

BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.

CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring.


CARLSON: Let me ask you a question on the news.

STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?

CARLSON: Thirty-five.

STEWART: And you wear a bow tie.

CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do.

STEWART: So this is...

CARLSON: I know. I know. I know. You're a...

STEWART: So this is theater.

CARLSON: Now, let me just...

CARLSON: Now, come on.

STEWART: Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie.

CARLSON: They're difficult.

STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.

BEGALA: We do, do...

STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.

STEWART: What is wrong with you?

CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago.

STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.

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Jon Stewart continued to debate Tucker Carlson over journalistic integrity, and actually called Carlson a “dick.” I wish every episode of CROSSFIRE was this entertaining.

One odd moment occurred when someone asked Stewart about “Bush’s hump”- the controversy about Bush being wired to receive instructions during the first presidential debate. I was surprised that Stewart knew nothing about this situation. What was even stranger was how quick Paul Begala was in dismissing this topic as a myth. Didn’t he hear George Bush say “Let me finish” to nobody in particular? He had plenty of time to respond, and the moderator did not ask him to finish. A rational person would conclude that Bush was hearing voices.

You can read the entire transcript at:

The Free Speech Zone website has some little video clips of this Crossfire exchange, if you don’t mind viewing it in that awful Windows Media format.

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Both Triumph the Insult Dog and Tucker Carlson wear bow ties. Both characters stir controversy with their hilarious mistruths. One is a pompous ass. The other is a rubber dog puppet.

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E.P. Friday, October 15, 2004