MOLLY JONG-FAST (HOST): Jon Stewart is the probably the biggest guest to ever go on Newsmax. What do you think of that?
ANGELO CARUSONE (PRESIDENT, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA): I think it's OK sometimes. I like to win.
CARUSONE: And I think that the thing ultimately is that I also understand that elections or policy fights are about --I mean, I'm an organizer. I'm a campaigner. I'm an organizer. And sometimes you have to engage in ways that are atypical or out of sorts. But the difference maker there is that there's a really clear, clearly stated objective, right.
And there's two things I would say about Jon – to Jon Stewart's point, and I think he's really careful about this. One, in every time he does these appearances and they've been a couple, he never validates the spin or the core claim the network makes about itself. He never starts from the premise that somehow they're legitimate.
CARUSONE: Right. In fact, he always makes it clear in the segments that they're really not. That's important, actually, because it means that it loses some of its punch and its power from a business perspective, it's hard for those channels to point to that segment, as validating what they're saying. And then the second thing is like – they're really limited, therefore a very precise and specific purpose. And it's to build a little bit of pressure on one very clearly understandable thing in which they're obviously hiding it from their own audience, in which they know their audience will move on it if you can get them out there. They're hyper-confrontational. They're just effective.
And it's not the go-to, he's not doing it for attention. Which, by the way, is just to be clear, that's the argument that Democrats have, which is like if I go on Fox and I give a killer answer, a bunch of people are going to retweet me and I may get some donations. It's like, yes, maybe that is true. But you go on, you know, hat in hand.
JONG-FAST: Right. And you're giving them credibility versus Jon Stewart who's saying you guys are clowns. But I'm coming on here to talk about something real. And then he spends the whole time debunking anyway.
CARUSONE: Correct. And I'm not just shilling for him. It's like there's just a limit, right? If that was his go-to every time he had an issue, I would say, Oh, OK, that's a problem. But he's not appealing to them because he's saying they're so important and so powerful.
What he's saying is that in this case, I can achieve a very specific, limited purpose, -- it's cost-benefit. And that's always what I've argued for with Democrats too, is that -- make -- do the cost-benefit. And if you're not willing to do that cost-benefit even, then that's a problem because it only – that's where my critique comes in, because I don't think a lot of times they realize that they're doing more harm than good. That's the first thing. And I'm not trying to be nasty about it, but like – there is a group of consultants out there that understand that it's -- first, it's easier to get your own people booked on Fox News. I just want to say that. Right.
JONG-FAST: Right, it's pretty easy to get booked on Fox News, right?
CARUSONE: It's super easy. Yeah. If you're a Democrat, especially one that has like even a little bit of pop, they're so desperate for them, that it's a lot easier for your clients. And the other thing is that it's unconventional, so you get a little bit of pop of press after.
CARUSONE: And then the third is and this is the dirty secret, is that Fox's contributor contracts are the most lucrative in the business.
JONG-FAST: Right, they have to be.
CARUSONE: I mean, Roger Ailes used to use it as, you know, the Democrats in particular. It'd be like an audition for them. They understood they would get massive payouts when you can easily make 200 grand for just a couple of appearances a month as a Fox contributor.
And so a lot of times it's just really -- if you can, sort of, make it clear that you play a specific role, you will be rewarded with a really fantastic contributor contract. And I understand that individually, it's just big picture. A lot of times I feel like Democrats get played and don't realize if they are to go on Fox, at minimum, I wish they wouldn't constantly pretend that Fox is somehow more legitimate, which is often what they end up doing.
And so, yeah, I think Jon Stewart sort of was a good illustration of how you could leverage some of these terrible people. You know, if there was a bunch of puppies, for example, in a burning building, you know, and some horrible right winger Alex Jones, you know, and, you know, Charlie Kirk standing next to him are going to help me get these puppies out. I'm like, yeah, come on, let's do it, let’s get these puppies out. I'm not I'm not sanitizing Alex Jones and Charlie Kirk. It's like there's some puppies burning and I can get them out if you help me. You know, that's kind of how I see Jon Stewart, is like, sometimes you use terrible people, and then no way is that the same as sanitizing them or enabling them.