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Jon Stewart on Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin: ‘An ally to the right’

In World
February 21, 2024

While other late-night hosts were off for Presidents’ Day, Jon Stewart once again resumed his chair at the Daily Show to defend his monologue about Joe Biden’s age and talk Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin.

Related: ‘Honest, critical, sane’: Jon Stewart’s welcome return to The Daily Show

The Daily Show

Jon Stewart opened his monologue on The Daily Show, his second since returning on Mondays through the election, to defend his first, in which he expressed voter concerns over Joe Biden’s age and mental fitness for office. The bit drew heated criticism from some Democrats, such as the former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who called him a “bothsidesist fraud” on X, formerly Twitter.

“But that was on Twitter, everything on Twitter gets a backlash,” said Stewart. “I’ve seen Twitter tell Labradoodles to go fuck themselves.

“I just think it’s better to deal head-on with what’s an apparent issue to people,” he added.

“I guess as the famous saying goes – democracy dies in discussion,” he joked. “I have sinned against you. I’m sorry. It was never my intention to say out loud what I saw with my eyes and then brain. I can do better. I can have learning!”

Related: Seth Meyers on Trump: ‘He’ll have to Zoom in to rallies from the court’

Stewart then transitioned to his main segment of the night, on the former Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s interview with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, offering a lesson in “world-class fealty to power”.

Step one: “lie about what your job is” – not journalism, as Carlson claimed – and what your duty is (not to inform people, either). As Carlson claimed: “Freedom of speech is our birthright. We were born with the right to say what we believe.”

“Ah, disguise your deception and capitulation to power as noble and moral and based in freedom,” Stewart noted.

In the on-location report from Moscow, Carlson praised the city’s art deco subway stations and the efficiency of its grocery stores, reacting to fresh-baked bread with such enthusiasm that “I’d hate to think what would’ve happened if he had found a bagel,” said Stewart. And he spoke to Putin with a facial expression Stewart could only describe as a “mixture of shame, arousal and I’m gonna say irregularity – for instance, like you’re constipated while jerking off to a Sears catalog”.

Related: Putin tells Tucker Carlson the US ‘needs to stop supplying weapons’ to Ukraine

Carlson claimed the experience of shopping for weekly groceries for $104 “radicalized” him against US leaders – “it will radicalize you, unless you understand basic economics”, Stewart corrected. “You see, $104 for groceries sounds like a great bargain, unless you realize that Russians earn less than $200 a week.

“Here’s the reality: you fucking know all this, because you aren’t as dumb as your face would have us believe,” Stewart continued, addressing Carlson directly. “Perhaps if your handlers had allowed, you would’ve seen that there’s a hidden fee to your cheap groceries and orderly streets. Ask Alexei Navalny or any of his supporters.”

In recent days, Russian state police have cracked down on pro-democracy protesters, arresting anyone who publicly mourned the opposition leader who mysteriously died in prison last week.

“The difference between our urinal-caked, chaotic subways and your candelabra, beautiful subways is the literal price of freedom,” said Stewart. “But the goal that Carlson and his ilk are pushing is that there’s really no difference between our systems. In fact, theirs might be a little bit better. The question is why, why is Tucker doing this?”

Stewart theorized that it’s because the old civilizational battle between communism and capitalism has shifted. “Now, they think the battle is ‘woke’ versus ‘unwoke’. And in that fight, Putin is an ally to the right. He’s their friend,” he said. “Unfortunately, he is also a brutal and ruthless dictator. So now they have to make Americans a little more comfortable with that. I mean liberty is nice, but have you seen Russia’s shopping carts?”

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