Jon Stewart Brushes Off NYT Allegation

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, during an hour-long appearance on CNN’s "Larry King Live," didn’t take the New York Times story on "the possibility of a relationship between John McCain some years back and a female lobbyist" seriously, which, as King put it, was "in the embryonic stages" during the show. "[T]his has an awfully tired and dusty feel to it, in terms of the way that political reporting has been going." Stewart went on to criticize some of the Times’ reporting. "You know, The New York Times does some pretty amazing reporting and The New York Times puts stuff out there that is as sort of spurious at times. You know, Judy Miller's reports in The New York Times were about as fictional as James Frey's, you know, ‘Million Little Pieces.’"

King began the second segment of his program, which started about 10 minutes into the 9 pm Eastern hour, by bringing up the Times story and after summarizing its contents, read a statement that had been issued by McCain’s campaign. He then asked for Stewart’s take on it. Stewart admitted that John McCain "is someone who I have great respect for" and thought that "this is a strange time to be injecting it into the race." He also lamented the entire situation. "It's just -- it's a shame and I feel badly for him and I feel badly for his family, because they're lovely people."

KING: We now turn it to you. Well, what do you think? You've had John on. We've had John on. I've known him for years

STEWART: I think John McCain is someone who I have great respect for. And I think it's just sad that that kind of boilerplate response even has to be drawn up to something. And this is a strange time to be injecting it into the race. I mean I haven't read The New York Times story...

KING: It will be in tomorrow morning.

STEWART: But if it's concerning his relationship with a woman, it's -- it's very unfortunate. I'm not suggesting that public figures don't have to be held to certain standards of behavior and things. But this has an awfully tired and dusty feel to it, in terms of the way that political reporting has been going. If this is about lobbying and things like that, certainly that's very much in the public interest. And it's certainly very much -- but I think the general parasitic nature of lobbying to government is pretty out there for everyone to see and there should be no shocking revelation. The appearance of impropriety in terms of lobbying and government is...

KING: What's new?

STEWART: ...is out there in spades. And I think this sounds like a pretty hurtful personal thing.

KING: And both parties deny a romantic relationship, by the way.

STEWART: Right.

KING: Both parties did.

STEWART: Well, I'm glad, then, that he had to answer to something that both he and the woman deny and that that gets injected into the campaign. It's just -- it's a shame and I feel badly for him and I feel badly for his family, because they're lovely people.

King then brought up the fact that the story itself appeared in the New York Times. This didn’t really phase Stewart, and he injected a little humor into the discussion by bringing up CNN’s credibility.

KING: One other thing on it. The thing that makes it -- sets it apart is The New York Times. I mean...

STEWART: And that sets it apart how?

KING: It's not The Globe.

STEWART: Yes. You know, I think it's all -- there has been a certain blending. You know, The New York Times does some pretty amazing reporting and The New York Times puts stuff out there that is as sort of spurious at times. You know, Judy Miller's reports in The New York Times were about as fictional as James Frey's, you know, "Million Little Pieces."

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: So, you know, I think you -- at this point, unfortunately, you have to judge each piece of material. There are very few organizations left that have a credibility savings account that they can draw on anymore -- except, of course, for CNN, that has the best political team on television.

KING: Do you think we have the best political team on television?

STEWART: No, I was told I have to say, that every seven minutes...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Good (INAUDIBLE)...

STEWART: ...or Wolf Blitzer would come in here and beard me.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center