Saturday, May 18, 2024

Jon Stewart Has Good Reason to Dislike Anthony Weiner


Give Jon Stewart credit. The Anthony Weiner story is delicious copy for comedians. From his double entendre name to his “shaven” chest (yes the New York Post coined that word today), the soon to be ex Congressman is a pathetic joke. And he has a history with Stewart. They’ve known each other for about twenty years. But that doesn’t mean they’re “friends.” No, no. Here’s an interview that Weiner gave in May 2009 to CityScoopNY He said Stewart’s “Daily Show” has a “corrosive effect” on his business.

CS: You used to be roommates with “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. How did that come about?

AW: We knew each other after college. I worked on Capitol Hill for [then-Congressman Chuck] Schumer with a guy who played soccer with Jon at William & Mary. So we were all in the same circle. I was dating a woman at the time, she lived where he did and we all kind of…it was a classic New York [situation]. We were all making twenty grand.

CS: Where did you all live?

AW: Soho. I was living there more or less because I was bumming off of my girlfriend who was living there. Technically speaking, I was living in my mom’s house. We were all living together, and we shared a beach house, too.

CS: Are you and Jon still friends?

AW: Yeah, we stay in touch. We talked a lot during the campaign.

CS: Have you been on “The Daily Show?”

AW: No. I don’t have a book. You gotta be selling something to go on his show.

CS: Well, if you run for Mayor…

AW: If I become Mayor, then they’ll probably waive that requirement. I wouldn’t want to go…I don’t know.

CS: Because it would be too weird?

AW: No, I love Jon’s show, and I TiVo it and watch it every day. But I think it has a bit of a corrosive effect on my business.

CS: In what sense?

AW: Its entire ethos is to make fun of politicians. Colbert’s worse…or better at it, I don’t know. I guess it’s really not fair to say it’s corrosive. It’s just that for a remarkable number of Jon’s viewers, that’s the sole source of news, and that’s both good and bad. It’s good that they’re gonna get it somewhere, and if it’s gonna be at a comedy show I’d rather it be there than Bill Maher or something like that. But on the other side, I don’t like the idea that there’s such a cynical view of politics and government.

CS: But you understand why that cynicism exists, right?

AW: Do I understand why that cynicism exists? Yes. I think it exists because of Jon’s show.

CS: Do you really?

AW: We could have the circular argument if you want. I think it accelerates itself. I think there becomes a feedback loop that’s corrosive. Congressmen do dumb things, yes, then are highlighted for doing dumb things, and highlighted some more, and people watch it and say that congressmen do dumb things, and so then when another congressman does a dumb thing, it’s like, “Well, my audience wants to watch a congressman do a dumb thing,” and then the audience laughs at the congressman doing a dumb thing, and then Jon says, “Hey, I got a great scam here, lemme go find another congressman doing a dumb thing,” and where do I get in? Where do I get in not doing a dumb thing? Not being a bozo?

CS: Have you ever expressed that to Jon?

AW: Oh yeah, we had…yes. The answer is yes.

CS: What did he have to say?

AW: The argument was somewhat predictable.

CS: Well, after last night, we know very well how Jon argues. (This interview took place the day after Stewart’s takedown of CNBC commentator Jim Cramer – Ed.)

AW: What I thought was interesting about last night was the irony of watching the comedian be critical of the news guy for being funny.

CS: I don’t think that was the reason…

AW: …at the crux of it, it was the news guy defending himself by saying, “I’m being an entertainer. I’m being funny.” And the comedian saying, “Dude, don’t do that. You be the serious one and I’ll be…” which is kind of a theme of Jon’s joust with the “Crossfire” guys. The irony with Jon…we have to remember that Jon was critical of “Crossfire” because it dumbed down the debate. Some of my concern about Jon is that, it’s smart, but it can be just as corrosive, because we’re being treated like we’re dumb. And maybe some of us are.



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News