The debate I’d like to see

by Eszter Hargittai on September 29, 2004

If you ever need to reach me, don’t bother trying at 10pm (CST, Mon-Thu) because I am likely watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I am obsessed with that show not only because the entire cast is incredibly funny, but also because Jon Stewart is so well informed and quick on his feet. He did a great job talking tonight (Tue) with Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and chair of the Southeast region Bush-Cheney campaign. It was an interesting glimpse into what it would be like to have Jon Stewart take part in a presidential debate. I am not referring to the laughs we would get out of it, but the witty and sharp comments that would keep everybody on their toes. Even Al Gore, in his NYTimes op-ed today about debating George Bush, quotes Stewart. Bummer that Bush likely won’t go on TDS, it would be interesting to watch him interact with Jon Stewart. But as someone from the Bush campaign who recently visited the show commented: why would Bush bother showing up on TDS?

To spice things up a bit this Thursday, I will be watching the presidential debate with a group of students in Northwestern’s Communications Residential College where my colleague David Zarefsky, an expert in argumentation and Presidential rhetoric, will lead a discussion about the debates right after.



nick 09.29.04 at 7:21 am

If you don’t already own ‘America: The Book — A Guide To Citizen Inaction’ (by the Daily Show’s writers), then you should.

It only really has its full impact if you’ve ever read one of the ‘Government and Civics’ textbooks for the usually-mandatory undergraduate course in the US, since it’s a parody of the style. But it’s actually worth buying one of those textbooks to appreciate the unintentional humour that so many contain: I remember several laugh-out-loud moments when reading a particularly inane textbook that was used for my wife’s course.


eszter 09.29.04 at 8:46 am

Thanks, yup, I ordered it a few days ago.. should be arriving any day now.:)


Rob 09.29.04 at 1:09 pm

Obviously you are one of the stoners that Bill O’Reilly claims are the only ones who watch The Daily Show.


KCinDC 09.29.04 at 1:43 pm

I was disappointed in Jon Stewart’s performance with Ralph Reed. Why hasn’t Stewart read the 9/11 report — or at least learned more about it — so that he could respond to Reed’s attempt to paint it as supporting Bush’s worldview? Usually Stewart is better prepared to confront people’s talking points.


eszter 09.29.04 at 3:04 pm

KCinDC – It’s not at all clear whether he’s read it or not (or whether he’s been briefed on it, I guess:). His references to not having read it was an important comical element of the interview. Stewart is always very serious about keeping the comical element up front and center. I thought he had some very nice responses to the comments by Reed.. like the one about suggesting that he was looking for evidence from “not before 91”.


patriotBoy 09.29.04 at 3:45 pm

You know, it turns out that the “stoned slackers” who watch the daily show are actually better informed than the “ordinary people” who watch o’reilly. I find that hilarious and telling.


nhayhoe 09.29.04 at 6:01 pm

I was in The Daily Show audience on Thursday and I was especially blown away at how lightning fast John was in his crowd warmup. Someone would ask a question and Stewart would shoot five minutes of hilarious and relevent material back at them without taking a breath.

I think he’s noticably more brilliant when he doesn’t feel obligated to listen to the person across from him.



Krybo Amgine 09.29.04 at 9:35 pm

It’s a shame that Stewart’s sharp wit didn’t come shining through during the tongue-bath he gave to Kerry on The Daily Show several weeks ago.


eszter 09.29.04 at 10:32 pm

Nate – care to say a few words about how difficult (or not) it is to get on a taping of The Daily Show? I’m interested.:-)


Patrick 09.30.04 at 2:35 am

I live in Chicago.

Do you have anymore information about the debate and the discussion so that I can attend?

Is it only open to students and friends?


eszter 09.30.04 at 4:13 am

Sorry, the event to which I referred is only for residents and faculty fellows of the college. I was invited, because I’m a faculty fellow. If I hear of public events about upcoming debates, I’d be happy to post about those.


alain lunge 10.02.04 at 8:41 am


I find it particularly ironic that ‘’ turns out to be a clueless lying turd.


zhixiong 10.02.04 at 11:41 am

good job
Michael santlouis

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