LA Times Entertainment Reporter Says Jon Stewart Oscar Gig Could Be Disastrous

On CNN Headline News's "Showbiz Tonight" last night, Tom O'Neil, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and its Oscar website TheEnvelope.com, couldn't seem to make up his mind on Jon Stewart hosting the Oscars. He started out suggesting Stewart could be a disaster as a political "assassin comedian."

It`s a huge gamble, Brooke, because you know, Jon Stewart, the reason we love him as a comedian is that he's one of those assassin comedians and often that doesn`t [end up] working at the Oscars. Remember what happened just last year when Chris Rock went offline. He was insulting Jude Law at one point and then Sean Penn came out and protested. Well, that`s the kind of thing that Jon does all the time.

Twice before he`s hosted awards shows, not successfully. The last time he did the Grammys, "The Hollywood Reporter" said he was, quote unquote, "hopelessly awkward and uncomfortable."

Anchor Brooke Anderson suggested:

"And there really is a lot for him to chew on this year, Tom. It`s the year of controversial movies. You`ve got "Brokeback Mountain" with the gay theme. You`ve got "Crash" with underlying racial themes. This also gives him the platform to really riff on the war in Iraq. These are issues he parodies every night on his show, but in this situation, how ugly could it really get?

O'Neil: It could get as ugly as it got in September, when Jon was asked to host the Magazine Publishers of America and it was one of the worst disasters of 2005.

He was there with Time magazine, Cosmopolitan, and he started to insult them all. He said to Time magazine, how could you have given your notes to the government and then turn around and give your story to Newsweek. He then told Cosmopolitan that "You have nothing but contempt and disdain for your readers."

Everybody thought he was kidding. It got worse. He finally turned to 1,000 of these magazines` advertisers in the audience and he said, "Print is irrelevant." He said, "They don`t even belong at the party, but I`ll let them sit at the kiddies table"....He wasn`t joking. You don`t insult your host is what you don`t do at the Oscars or any of these events and Jon loves to do that.

O'Neil wrote it up with more detail here. But when Anderson concluded, "Why ultimately did the Academy go with Jon Stewart?" O'Neil reversed himself: "Well, Jon does represent a kind of hipness and a kind of irreverence that an establishment that is sometimes viewed as stodgy, like the Oscars, needs. And it`s a great choice."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis