Rachel Maddow devoted Thursday night’s entire episode of her MSNBC show to an interview with Jon Stewart. The “Daily Show” host addressed criticism of his recent D.C. rally and outlined his issues with MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News.
The Oct. 30 “Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear” on the National Mall was attended by about 200,000 supporters.
“I felt like, in twelve years, I’d earned a moment to tell people who I was. And that’s what I did,” Stewart told Maddow of his reasons for holding the rally.
Stewart’s rally earned its share of critics to go along with the throngs of enthusiastic attendees.
Though he used painfully diplomatic language, Stewart essentially told Maddow that his detractors missed the point of the rally:
“Whatever you put out, you can only control your intention … So, when … people that I respect are perceiving it as something that we didn’t perceive it as, sort of, either two or three things. One is, we were inartful in the way that we conceived it and presented it, our intention was wrong or off, not clear, or it’s being misperceived.”
Stewart used the majority of his Maddow appearance to elaborate on the critique of the divisive, uncivilized culture of cable news that he said was “the point” of his rally.
“My problem is, it’s become tribal,” Stewart said. “And if you have 24-hour networks that focus — their job is to highlight the conflict between two sides.”
The “Daily Show” host laid blame on CNN for playing a major role in creating the contentious cable climate.
“CNN sort of started it,” Stewart said. “They had this idea that, you know, the fight in Washington is Republicans and Democrats, so why don’t we isolate that and we’ll stand back here.”
Stewart also called out MSNBC for taking part in an ideological “arms race” with Fox. He criticized the network’s coverage of the Tea Party and a dismissive attempt “to delegitimize” the Conservative movement by focusing on its fringes.
Stewart has issues with CNN and MSNBC, but he told Maddow that he and his fellow “Daily Show” staffers have a “special place in our hearts for Fox.”
“I think the brilliance of Fox is they’ve delegitimized the idea of editorial authority while exercising incredible editorial authority, which is its amazing,” Stewart said. “And they also have the game that, ‘They’re all out to get us,’ so any criticism of them can be filtered through the idea that its persecution.”
Maddow and Stewart’s discussion focused on the politics of the cable news business, but surprisingly, they didn’t talk about last week’s controversy over MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s campaign contributions to Democrats. In the nearly hourlong conversation that aired on Maddow’s show, the pair of pundits didn’t find time to address the temporary suspension of Maddow’s “colleague and friend.”
Watch the uncut video of Maddow’s conversation with Stewart below: