Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hosts exchange nasty barbs

By David Bauder
The Associated Press

How's this for a feud that straddles the line between politics and entertainment: CNN's bow-tied conservative Tucker Carlson vs. The Daily Show host Jon Stewart.

On Monday, Carlson fanned embers still hot from their Crossfire confrontation Friday, saying Stewart looked ridiculous during his CNN appearance and was a sellout for publicly backing Democrat John Kerry for president.

Stewart originally angered Carlson by saying Crossfire is "partisan hackery" that does little to advance the cause of democracy.

And that was the mild stuff.

"You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably," Stewart said.

Responded Carlson: "You need to get a job at a journalism school."

"You need to go to one," Stewart shot back.

Carlson complained that for a comedian, Stewart wasn't funny.

"Come on," he said. "Be funny."

"No," Stewart said. "I'm not going to be your monkey."

Carlson chided Stewart for lobbing softball questions when Kerry appeared on The Daily Show last month.

Later, Carlson told Stewart he was "more fun" on his Comedy Central show, and Stewart called him a jerk - although he used a more vulgar term.

"I thought that he looked ridiculous," Carlson said, "and I think the tape makes that clear."

Stewart wasn't talking about the confrontation on Monday, a spokesman said. Comedy Central executive Tony Fox said there may be some regret over the vulgarity, but that Stewart has been a longtime critic of cable news networks and their political argument shows.

The comedian hasn't gone out of his way to endorse Kerry. In a public forum last week in New York, he was asked who he would vote for, and he said he'd back Kerry.

Carlson noted that many of the great comedians kept their political opinions to themselves, not for fear of offending anyone, but because it could hurt their art.

"You're selling out," he said. "If you are a satirist or an acute social observer, and he is, and all of a sudden you suspend disbelief on someone or suck up rather than prod or poke someone, people will look at you and say, 'Even if I agree with you, I don't like it.' "

Fox said The Daily Show poked fun at people in power, regardless of their party. Most people who watch Stewart are aware that he leans to the left politically.

"The show does what it does regardless of Jon's political persuasion," Fox said.

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