Jon Stewart on MSM: Fox agenda-driven but ABC, CBS, NBC, NY Times are not

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
Font Size:

This is the appearance we’ve been waiting for – Comedy Central host Jon Stewart making an appearance on a Sunday morning national public affairs program, especially one on a network he so often ridicules.

On Sunday’s “Fox News Sunday,” with host Chris Wallace, “The Daily Show” host explained why he thinks Fox News is different from other news organizations which are criticized by some for being “as liberal as Fox News is conservative.”

WALLACE: [Y]ou love to take shots at Fox News.
STEWART: Yes I do.
WALLACE: Over the years, you have called us –and we’re going to put this on the screen because this is heavy stuff: ‘A biased organization, relentlessly promoting an ideological agenda under the rubric of being a news organization.’
STEWART: Rubric?
WALLACE: And I think that was slightly the wrong use of the word – ‘a relentless agenda-driven, 24-hour news propaganda delivery system.’ Where do you come up with this stuff?
STEWART: It’s easy when you feel it. You have to feel it in your soul.
WALLACE: Well, here is the deal – are you willing to say the same thing about the mainstream media, ABC, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, New York Times?
WALLACE: Would you say the same thing about them that they are, in your words, a ‘propaganda-delivery system relentlessly pushing a liberal agenda’?
STEWART: No, I wouldn’t say that.
WALLACE: Why not?
STEWART: MSNBC is attempting that. I think they’re attempting — they have looked at your business model and they have seen the success of it and I think they’re attempting to be a more activist organization.
WALLACE: You don’t think The New York Times is a liberal organization now pushing a liberal agenda?
STEWART: The New York Times – no. I think they are to a certain extent. Do I think they’re relentlessly activist? No. In a purely liberal partisan way? No, I don’t. I think this is — Fox is a very special.

Stewart went on to defend some of the material on his shows, including a montage comparing a video released by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to a herpes medication commercial. However, he said that ridiculing conservatives for the sake of promoting an agenda isn’t his primary focus.

“Here is the difference between you and I,” Stewart said. “I’m a comedian first. My comedy is informed by an ideological background – there’s no question about that. The thing that you will never understand and the thing that conservative activists in some respects will never understand is that Hollywood – yeah, they’re liberal. But that’s not their primary motivating force. I’m not an activist. I’m a comedian.”

Stewart said Wallace’s presence on the network acted as a counterbalance to others hosts in order to bring credibility to the Fox News.

“I think that you are here in some respects to bring a credibility and an integrity to an organization that might not otherwise have it without your presence,” Stewart said. “So you are here as a counterweight to [Sean] Hannity, let’s say, or you are here as a counterweight to Glenn Beck because otherwise it’s pure talk radio and it doesn’t establish the type of political player it wants to be.”

Stewart acknowledged that the mainstream media has a liberal bias that sometimes unfairly vilifies conservatives. (No pass for Rep. Anthony Weiner from Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart)

“I think there is, probably a liberal bias that exists within the media because of the medium in which it exists,” Stewart said. “I think that the majority of people working in it probably hold liberal viewpoints, but I don’t think they are as relentlessly activist as the conservative movement that has risen up over the last 40 years and that movement has decided that they have been victims of a witch hunt. And to some extent they’re right. People on the right are called racists and they’re called things with an ease that I am uncomfortable with and homophobic and all those other things. I think that that is absolutely something that they have a real right to be angry about and to feel that they have been vilified for those things. And I’ve been guilty of some of those things myself.”