Not your monkey

On October 15, 2004, Jon Stewart appeared on the program on the premise of promoting his book America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction. Instead he used his appearance on the show to criticize the format of Crossfire and the style of arguments presented on the show. He said the program failed its responsibility to the public discourse and indulged in partisan hackery, reducing news coverage of important issues to a series of talking points from both extremes of the political spectrum: “It’s hurting America. Here is what I wanted to tell you guys: Stop… You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.” Carlson countered Stewart’s criticisms by reading examples of questions Stewart had asked of then-presidential candidate John Kerry during his recent interview on The Daily Show, such as, “How are you holding up?” and “Have you ever flip-flopped?” Stewart argued that unlike Carlson and Begala he was a comedian, not a journalist, and therefore it was not his role to conduct hard-hitting interviews. Begala defended the show on the basis that it was intended as a forum for debate, to which Stewart responded that calling Crossfire a debate show was “like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.” Arguably the most heated moment of the exchange occurred after Carlson told Stewart, “I do think you’re more fun on your show. Just my opinion.”, to which Stewart replied, “You know what’s interesting, though? You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”

Following his appearance, transcripts and live stream footage were released on the Internet and widely watched and discussed. At a time when the average number of viewers of the show was about 615,000, the episode drew 867,000 viewers. Stewart later stated “It really was not my intent to be disruptive. I truly thought we’d have a goof about how terrible the program is at the top, and move on, but… the combination of their obstinance and my low blood sugar led to no bueno.”
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