Jon Stewart: Trump will win the 'fight' with journalists

President Trump has been able to appeal to journalists' "narcissism" by attacking them, and so distracts from his policies, the comedian tells Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview.

Posted: Nov 1, 2018 5:48 AM
Updated: Nov 1, 2018 5:57 AM

Jon Stewart has been done with "The Daily Show" for years, but he's still one of the strongest media critics around.

In a new interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Stewart chided journalists for taking President Trump's "bait" and taking his anti-media attacks too personally.

First, Stewart shared a familiar critique: That Trump is "giving you all cash," that he's helping the bottom lines of media companies due to the unending news and debate about all things Trump.

While that might be an issue for news executives, Amanpour said, journalists "believe that our job is to navigate the truth and to do the fact-checking and all the rest of it."

"But I think the journalists have taken it personally," Stewart said. "They're personally wounded and offended by this man. He baits them and they dive in, and what he's done well, I thought, is appeal to their own narcissism, to their own ego."

Stewart said that when Trump derides the media — with "enemy-of-the-people" type talk — "the journalists stand up and say, 'We are noble, we are honorable — how dare you, sir.'"

This has been a common point of tension in the past two years. Some press critics and editors say that outraged reactions to Trump further fuels his anti-media messaging.

In a column earlier this week for Vox, editor at large Ezra Klein said the media reacts to Trump's rhetoric in a perfectly reasonable way: "We cover Trump's statements as outrageous and aberrant; we make clear where he's lied or given succor to violent paranoiacs; we fret over the future of the free press. And then Trump and his loyalists point to our overwhelmingly negative coverage and say, 'See? Told you they were the opposition party.'"

A vicious cycle, in other words, that just keeps getting worse.

In the interview with Amanpour, Stewart critiqued journalists for taking Trump's insults personally.

With the constant "Trump versus media" tiffs, "he's changed the conversation," diverting attention away from his policies, Stewart said.

"It's all about the fight. He's able to tune out everything else and get people just focused on the fight and he's going to win that fight," Stewart told Amanpour.

Stewart's comments in the interview went viral this week, with many endorsing his view.

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, however, argued that there was a weakness in Stewart's argument: "He attempts a distinction between Trump's 'policies' and his attacks on the media, when in fact his attacks on the media are his most consistent policy. Those attacks started in the first days of his campaign and have only intensified."

Condemnations of news he calls "fake" have been a key part of the president's closing argument ahead of the midterm elections.

Attempts to refute Trump's arguments are, in Stewart's opinion, examples of taking the "bait."

Stewart and his friend Dave Chappelle joined Amanpour for the interview in London.

When she asked "is the Trump era a good era for comedians?" Chappelle said, "I would not even name the era after him." Stewart agreed.

"He's getting too much credit," Chappelle argued. "He's not making the wave. He's surfing it."

"Yeah," Stewart said. "The energy's always been there."

"He just — all he does is sings those people's greatest hits," Chappelle said. "Build a wall. All of these things we've heard before. He just sings all of the songs. He's the only one that — that's been brash enough to do it."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 156673

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31987550
Washington21345216
Marion18579287
Clackamas13449190
Lane10343129
Jackson8525116
Umatilla769682
Deschutes600163
Yamhill379669
Linn360957
Malheur335458
Polk307744
Klamath280555
Douglas255055
Josephine238755
Benton235617
Jefferson197630
Coos154521
Union130319
Columbia127721
Wasco122126
Lincoln113720
Hood River107029
Morrow105014
Crook78018
Clatsop7786
Baker6669
Curry4316
Tillamook4222
Lake3826
Harney2776
Grant2271
Wallowa1435
Gilliam541
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00
Eugene
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 38°
Corvallis
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 36°
Roseburg
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 41°
North Bend
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 37°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events