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Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Updated: February 19, 1:00 PM ET
10 Burning Questions: Jon Stewart

By Miki Turner
Page 3 staff

Jon Stewart recently appeared before a group of TV critics to discuss his Comedy Central series called "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart/Indecision 2004." Don't let the title fool ya, however. Stewart is a dude who is decidedly irreverent in all that he does.

So much so that the New York City native opened his session with the following remarks:

"First of all I just want to say, you know, we're interested in truth and not bullsh--. And you can write that down," Stewart said. "I don't like a------- because that's us. We're the... we don't like ourselves is what I'm saying."

With a field of virtually unknown Democratic candidates and an often embattled incumbent, "Indecision 2004" promises to provide Stewart and his cronies with plenty of material to zing and zap their way to another Emmy. Stewart chatted about the show, the upcoming election and other such significant issues during a Q&A session at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel.

1.Can you contrast the do's and don'ts of "Indecision 2000" to what you'll be doing in 2004?

Jon Stewart: OK. It hasn't happened yet.

But as far as what you learned from the first go-round...

What we learned from the first go-round. Ah, boy. Did we learn anything? Does anyone remember? I think in 2000 we learned that we didn't have to. I mean, the nice part is when you're not an actual organization that has a news-gathering capability, you can just put a picture up and say you're someplace. That saved us an awful lot of money. And I think in many respects CNN could learn a thing or two about that.

And by the way, how excited do you think Wolf Blitzer is to get grouped in with Brokaw, Jennings and Rather as an a------? I'm sure for him he's thinking, "I'm hittin' with the big boys."

2.You're show is like the hot new show but you used to be outsiders. You once told Harrison Ford that your show was beneath him.

I stand by that, by the way.

But now everyone is lining up and trying to get on board.

Are you saying we're the new gay?

3.You do a comedy news show but are you a guy who loves the serious news, who gets into it and is a pretty good student of real news?

I think the people around the show are. I'm mostly a bit of a trained monkey. I can't... I read phonetically so when I see the words spelled out, I say them.

4. All the major networks are kicking into high gear already for the primary season--

Yes. We've ordered Post-its and...

5.Do you know where you'll be going?

Our new slogan is: Eager, but ignorant.

6. Do you have any kind of plan?

That we could release to you? Release, like a vapor cloud of plans? Or like the hounds-- release the hounds!

7.Are you going on the road to all the primaries? Are you going on a bus?

We're going to New Hampshire, not for the primary. It's just beautiful this time of year. We're going to New Hampshire. We're going to go to both conventions-- one of them actually being in New York, which saves us. As you know our travel budget is less than high. And that's really about it. I mean, again, we have the advantage of not really needing to be a newsgathering organization so we mostly just-- we have a TiVO now so we just record what they're doing and yell at it.

8. When you're interviewing candidates, what do you think about when you're interviewing them? Do you feel a responsibility to ask certain questions?

I'm sorry, did you just say do I have a responsibility?! No, our responsibility, hopefully, is purely to be the smartest, funniest show we can possibly be. We don't have any sort of illusions when a candidate comes on. What we're looking for in those interviews is a human moment. That's all we want is one human moment... sort of like when Tom Daschle was on and talking about how, you know, nine candidates. It must be a grind for the party to have nine people. And he said: "No, it's a great debate and it's great that the party can show all these different viewpoints so we can get together." And I said, "Really? Because it seems like it's crushing you." And at that moment he just kind of stopped and started to giggle. That's the moment you look for...where they're showing you their humanityif it still exists. Which, in many cases as you know, it does not.

8a. Do you, however, think about the fact that a lot of younger voters in this country probably get more information from you, MTV and websites instead of traditional political reporting?

Every day, ma'am. I don't know if you know this, but the children are our future. And if we don't treat them well they won't lead the way.

9. You were almost canonized in that Newsweek cover story.

Yes, that was very uncomfortable.

How many copies have you bought and will you ever wear that red, white and blue suit again?

They did give me the suit and I'm wearing it underneath this.

It's very uncomfortable to be on a magazine cover. You know, Time and Newsweek are sort of sister publications and I think it's uncomfortable to be on the cover of one of them when the cover on the other is a salute to the American soldier. And I think it just points out exactly why we probably shouldn't be on the cover of a magazine, you know. So we're very please when nice things are said about us in those things, but we also recognize the fact that the only time we should be on Newsweek is if we pay for it ourselves at a boardwalk booth in Jersey. It's one of those sort of gag things.

10.What's your take on the announcement that Madonna is endorsing Wesley Clark?

I think he's [having sex with] her. You know how chicks love a man in uniform, baby.