On October 15, Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart appeared on CNN's Crossfire.
JON STEWART: ... And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad.
PAUL BEGALA: We have noticed.
STEWART: And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America.
TUCKER CARLSON: But in its defense...
STEWART: So I wanted to come here today and say...
STEWART: Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.
STEWART: Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.
BEGALA: OK. Now
STEWART: And come work for us, because we, as the people...
CARLSON: How do you pay?
STEWART: The people -- not well.
BEGALA: Better than CNN, I'm sure.
STEWART: But you can sleep at night.
STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.
BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes.
STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.
CARLSON: Wait, Jon, let me tell you something valuable that I think we do that I'd like to see you...
STEWART: Something valuable?
STEWART: I would like to hear it.
CARLSON: And I'll tell you.
When politicians come on...
CARLSON: It's nice to get them to try and answer the question. And in order to do that, we try and ask them pointed questions. I want to contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry recently.
CARLSON: ... up on the screen.
STEWART: If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to.
CARLSON: No, no, no, here's the point.
STEWART: If that's your goal.
CARLSON: It's not.
STEWART: I wouldn't aim for us. I'd aim for “Seinfeld.” That's a very good show.
CARLSON: Kerry won't come on this show. He will come on your show.
CARLSON: Let me suggest why he wants to come on your show.
STEWART: Well, we have civilized discourse.
CARLSON: Well, here's an example of the civilized discourse.
Here are three of the questions you asked John Kerry.
CARLSON: You have a chance to interview the Democratic nominee. You asked him questions such as -- quote -- “How are you holding up? Is it hard not to take the attacks personally?”
CARLSON: “Have you ever flip-flopped?” et cetera, et cetera.
CARLSON: Didn't you feel like -- you got the chance to interview the guy. Why not ask him a real question, instead of just suck up to him?
STEWART: Yes. “How are you holding up?” is a real suck-up. And I actually giving him a hot stone massage as we were doing it.
CARLSON: It sounded that way. It did.
STEWART: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility.
CARLSON: I felt the sparks between you.
STEWART: I didn't realize that -- and maybe this explains quite a bit.
CARLSON: No, the opportunity to...
STEWART: ... is that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity.
STEWART: So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous. I think you're...
CARLSON: “How are you holding up?” I mean, come on.
STEWART: No, no, no. But my role isn't, I don't think...
CARLSON: But you can ask him a real question, don't you think, instead of saying...
STEWART: I don't think I have to. By the way, I also asked him, “Were you in Cambodia?” But I didn't really care.
STEWART: Because I don't care, because I think it's stupid.
CARLSON: I can tell.
STEWART: But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows. [LAUGHTER]
CARLSON: We're here to love you, not confront you.
CARLSON: We're here to be nice.
STEWART: No, no, no, but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us. And it's -- the idea is...
BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is -- if the indictment is -- and I have seen you say this -- that...
BEGALA: And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.
BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show.
STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.
BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.
STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.
BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.
STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.
CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring.
CARLSON: Let me ask you a question on the news.
STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?
STEWART: And you wear a bow tie.
CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do.
STEWART: So this is...
CARLSON: I know. I know. I know. You're a...
STEWART: So this is theater.
CARLSON: Now, let me just...
CARLSON: Now, come on.
STEWART: Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie.
CARLSON: They're difficult.
STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.
BEGALA: We do, do...
STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.
CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...
STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.
STEWART: What is wrong with you?
[APPLAUSE] CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.
STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago.
STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.
CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.
STEWART: You need to go to one.
The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...
CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.
STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.
BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.
STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.
CARLSON: I can tell you love it.
STEWART: It's so -- oh, it's so painful to watch.
STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.
CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?
STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore.
STEWART: I just can't.
CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities?
STEWART: If I think they are.
CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.
STEWART: I know. And you won't. But the thing I want to get to...
BEGALA: We did promise naked pictures of the Supreme Court justices.
CARLSON: Yes, we did. Let's get to those.
BEGALA: They're in this book, which is a very funny book.
STEWART: Why can't we just talk -- please, I beg of you guys, please.
CARLSON: I think you watch too much CROSSFIRE.
We're going to take a quick break.
STEWART: No, no, no, please.
CARLSON: No, no, hold on. We've got commercials.
STEWART: Please. Please stop.
CARLSON: Next, Jon Stewart in the “Rapid Fire.”
STEWART: Please stop.
STEWART: So I don't worry about it in that respect.
But let me ask you guys, again, a question, because we talked a little bit about, you're actually doing honest debate and all that. But, after the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards?
CARLSON: The men's room.
STEWART: Right after that?
STEWART: Spin alley.
STEWART: No, spin alley.
BEGALA: What are you talking about? You mean at these debates?
STEWART: Yes. You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?
STEWART: Like, it's spin alley. It's -- don't you see, that's the issue I'm trying to talk to you guys...
BEGALA: No, I actually believe -- I have a lot of friends who work for President Bush. I went to college with some of them.
CARLSON: Neither of us was ever in the spin room, actually.
BEGALA: No, I did -- I went to do the Larry King show.
They actually believe what they're saying. They want to persuade you. That's what they're trying to do by spinning. But I don't doubt for a minute these people who work for President Bush, who I disagree with on everything, they believe that stuff, Jon. This is not a lie or a deception at all. They believe in him, just like I believe in my guy.
STEWART: I think they believe President Bush would do a better job.
And I believe the Kerry guys believe President Kerry would do a better job. But what I believe is, they're not making honest arguments. So what they're doing is, in their mind, the ends justify the means.
BEGALA: I don't think so at all.
CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.
CARLSON: OK, up next, Jon Stewart goes one on one with his fans...
STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.
CARLSON: Now, you're getting into it. I like that.
CARLSON: OK. We'll be right back.