WASHINGTON, April 19, 2014 — White House press secretary Jay Carney told CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett and an audience at Georgetown University that President Barack Obama’s interview with Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” in October 2012 was “probably the toughest interview” the President had in 2012.
Carney also disclosed that the campaign had “some discussions” about whether it was appropriate for Obama to appear on the Daily Show. Ultimately, they decided it was a good avenue to reach young voters.
During the interview, Stewart asked the president about his poor showing in his first debate and about his record in office. He asked the president to state his “case” for re-election and, after a commercial break, asked how many times a week Vice President Biden shows up in a wet bathing suit. Stewart also asked about national security, the NSA program, and Benghazi.
More than three million viewers watched the interview, according to the Washington Post.
While Stewart was friendly toward Obama in the interview, he has also slammed some of the president’s policies during his shows. He has been outspoken against Obama’s use of executive privilege, the continuation of the NSA PRISM program and of the IRS scandal.
He has been particularly hard on Obamacare and recently skewered Kathleen Sebelius on his show.
Stewart has described himself as “basically” a Democrat, although “more socialist or independent” than Democrat. Voting records show Stewart has also voted for Republican candidates, and has said that George H. W. Bush, “has an integrity about him that I respect greatly.”
Carney noted that contrary to initial appearances “somebody like Jon Stewart is actually very smart, sophisticated both consumer of and presenter of the news.”
Jon Stewart, born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. He is also increasingly popular as a news source. A PewResearchCenter for the People in the Press found that Stewart is the fourth-most admired journalist in the nation. The Daily Show is the most-watched late night talk show among adults 18-49.
Politicians appear to understand the pull of Stewart, with more than 30 appearing each year. Among the politicians who have appeared on the Daily Show are former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, as well as Republicans Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee.
Unlike liberal talk show host Bill Maher who brags about his $1 million contribution to Obama’s SuperPac, Stewart has made no federal-level political donations since he started the show in 1999. His only known beneficiary is his long-time friend Rep. Anthony Weiner, who Stewart supported with $2,000 in 1996.
Stewart has also been a fierce critic of media outlets, a criticism which appears to hold water, according to Carney.
When Garrett asked what it says when a talk show host known for satire and entertainment gave President Obama his most difficult interview, Carney suggested that the media “examine it and write about it.” He further suggested America might benefit from a broader discussion about where traditional media is today.