Jon Stewart Scolds Rachel Maddow and MSNBC for Saying 'Teabagger'

Comedian Jon Stewart on Thursday scolded Rachel Maddow for using the word "teabagger" to describe members of the Tea Party movement.

Appearing on "The Rachel Maddow Show" for an oftentimes quite interesting interview, Stewart also criticized others on MSNBC for taking this vulgar joke way too far (video follows with transcript  and commentary):

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: The caricature of the Left being as vociferous as the right is something that…

JON STEWART: I don't think that's the caricature of the Left. I really don't. I think the caricature of the Left is one that is slightly that -- that – they use as a cudgel. Didn't you hate when the Republicans used to use the phrase Democrat. Democrat.

MADDOW: The Democrat Party. Has the word rat in it.

STEWART: It seemed dickish. Democrat Party. Or when you spoke out against the war, there was a subtle undertone of you're un-American, you don't want to win the war on terror. Well, I think that what also comes out sometimes from the other side is teabagger. Now that’s I think derogatory. And I don't think anybody would mistake it for that, for anything other than that. And it's been used on this network quite frequently, by hosts, by guests…

MADDOW: You don't think it was funny that they were calling them, they were saying tea bag the White House before the White House tea bags you?

STEWART: I thought it was funny for a day. I thought it was funny for a day.

MADDOW: Funny enough to play the John Waters clip of the teabagging thing on a bar?

STEWART: For a day. Probably wouldn't have run with it with guests and things for months.

MADDOW: I didn't run it for months.

STEWART: No, but your part…

MADDOW: But I got criticized for it for months.

STEWART: Well, because you kind of made hay of it. You made more hay of it than maybe that, you know, that…

MADDOW: Took the joke too far.  

Took the joke too far. 

Actually, that's rather a propos as Maddow later made the point that she doesn't think what she does is all that much different than what Stewart does.

Although he pushed back on this idea, Maddow was exposing the really inconvenient truth about what she and Keith Olbermann do that separates them from serious journalists: they take the joke too far.

More than that, they're often going for the joke rather than the story thereby making it difficult to take them seriously. 

Driving this point home further, Maddow tried to convince her guest that what he's doing is news. Stewart repeatedly disagreed saying that he identifies far more with Jerry Seinfeld than the folks on MSNBC.

Not seeing the irony, Maddow fought this notion and continued to press the idea that she and her guest are actually playing at the same game.

And therein likely lies the real problem for both Maddow and Olbermann: in trying to inject humor into their reporting, they've both become farcical caricatures of newscasters that can't possibly be taken seriously.

As much as they want to be considered as journalists, they also strive to be Jon Stewart. By contrast, he just sees himself as a satirist commenting on the day's events with as much humor as possible. 

As a result, this interview revealed more about the host than the guest.

Someone cue Alanis Morissette.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.