Upon Jon Stewart’s announcement that he would be leaving the Daily Show later this year, Senator Debbie Stabbenow (D., Mich.) tweeted that “fake cable news won’t be the same without him.” In the eyes of Stewart’s critics though, The Daily Show has always been less ”news” and more “fake.” Over the years, Stewart has often been accused of purposefully distorting his interview subjects. Bloomberg View’s Megan McArdle even penned a piece called “Don’t Ever Appear on ‘The Daily Show,’” warning potential interviewees to avoid the show because of Stewart’s dubious journalistic standards.
Below are some examples of what McArdle was talking about:
Peter Schiff: The financial analyst and libertarian radio host told Mediaite that a four-hour interview about his opposition to raising the minimum wage with Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee was misleadingly spliced together to make him appear uncaring for those in poverty and the mentally disabled. To make matters worse, the commentator brought in to the segment to argue for raising the minimum wage, equities analyst Barry Ritholtz, said that he was allowed multiple takes on certain questions, an opportunity Schiff suggests he was not afforded.
Nolan Finley: In November of last year, the Detroit News columnist wrote about his experience on the late-night show. In the midst of controversy over the city’s decision to shut off water to residents who failed to pay their bills, Finley explained that he went in to great detail with correspondent Jessica Williams about the various economic and social problems facing the Motor City, and how they led to the shutoffs. When Williams pointed out that the city’s stadiums and arenas still have water despite not paying their bills, Finley agreed that their water should be shut off too. But when the segment aired, it buried the complexities of Finley’s argument, instead casting him as a foil to those fighting against the shutoffs, and a staunch defender of denying water to residents.
Redskins Fans: Amid controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins, correspondent Jason Jones sat down with four fans of the team to discuss why they opposed changing the name. But according to the Washington Post, the conversation quickly turned from playful and lighthearted to the point where one fan “felt in danger” and was driven to tears, after Jones ambushed the four interviewees with a group of American Indians who confronted them about the name. Another fan said the show’s producers misled them about the premise of the segment, saying they would hold separate interviews with those favoring the name and those opposing it, and offering assurances that there would be no cross-panel discussion.
“This goes way beyond mocking. Poking fun is one thing, but that’s not what happened,” said one of the fans. “It was disingenuous. The Native Americans accused me of things that were so wrong. I felt in danger. I didn’t consent to that. I am going to be defamed.”
Stewart indirectly addressed the hubbub over the segment prior to airing it, saying that the Daily Show’s policy is not to air interviews in which the subjects were “intentionally misled or if their comments were intentionally misrepresented.”
San Bernardino district attorney Mike Ramos: In making the case that the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. was not an isolated incident, Stewart included Dante Parker on a list of unarmed black men killed by law enforcement. But Parker’s death was not as simple as Stewart claimed, and Ramos took to YouTube to criticize the show for failing to do its homework: Parker died of a PCP overdose, according to a coroner, and he was tased — not shot. Stewart ultimately went on to issue a retraction, and apologize to Ramos and the county’s officers.
UPDATE: The original version of this post stated that Ritholtz said he was given multiple takes to improve his answers. In his blog post on his experience with the Daily Show, Ritholtz said he was allowed to do retakes when he “screwed up or ruined a shot.” He reached out to National Review and specified those instances were only when he laughed too much at the correspondent’s questions.