‘Daily Show’ Women Refute Sexism Claims About Jon Stewart

Last week on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart went off on a rant about all the pressure their staff is under trying to finish a book in time for a September release, and he also referenced an article on Jezebel that painted a picture of him as a ‘joyless’ boss who ran a ruthless boys club that never gives women a chance. This week, the actual women who work on the show – 40% of the staff – responded with their own treatise refuting that article as bunk, saying “while rampant sexism at a well-respected show makes for a great story, we want to make something very clear: the place you may have read about is not our office.”

After opening in typical snarky style with “Dear People Who Don’t Work Here,” the open letter dismisses the Jezebel piece as unfair and seizing “on the bitter rantings of ex-employees and ignore what current staff say.”

“The Daily Show isn’t a place where women quietly suffer on the sidelines as barely tolerated tokens,” the missive says, signed by 32 female employees of the show, including correspondents Samantha Bee, Kristen Schaal and Olivia Munn. “On the contrary: just like the men here, we’re indispensable. We generate a significant portion of the show’s creative content and the fact is, it wouldn’t be the show that you love without us. If you think the only women who help create this show are a couple of female writers and correspondents, you’re dismissing the vast majority of us.”

“We’re not all shoved into the party-planning department (although we do run that, and we throw some kick-ass parties),” the letter asserts. “We are co-executive producers, supervising producers, senior producers, segment producers, coordinating field producers, associate producers, editors, writers, correspondents, talent coordinators, production coordinators, researchers, makeup artists, the entire accounting and audience departments, production assistants, crew members, and much more. We were each hired because of our creative ability, our intelligence, and above all, our ability to work our asses off to make a great show.”

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They also dispel the notion that Stewart runs the show with a humorless iron fist. “What’s he really like? Well, for a sexist prick, he can be quite charming. He’s also generous, humble, genuine, compassionate, fair, supportive, exacting, stubborn, goofy, hands-on, driven, occasionally infuriating, ethical, down-to-earth and–a lot of people don’t know this–surprisingly funny (for a guy brimming with ‘joyless rage’). How else to describe him? What’s the word that means the opposite of sexist? That one.”

They don’t outright deny that he can be tough, though, but they insist he’s fair. “Jon’s not just a guy in a suit reading a prompter. His voice and vision shape every aspect of the show from concept to execution. The idea that he would risk compromising his show’s quality by hiring or firing someone based on anything but ability, or by booking guests based on anything but subject matter, is simply ludicrous. Jon’s rule is: the strongest idea and the funniest joke win every single time, no matter who pitches it–woman or man, executive producer or production assistant. Since taking over the show, Jon has worked hard to create an environment where people feel respected and valued regardless of their gender or position. If that’s not your scene, you probably wouldn’t like it here. We happen to love it.”

The bottom line? “The Daily Show isn’t a boy’s club or a girl’s club, it’s a family – a highly functioning if sometimes dysfunctional family. And we’re not thinking about how to maximize our gender roles in the workplace on a daily basis. We’re thinking about how to punch up a joke about Glenn Beck’s latest diatribe, where to find a Michael Steele puppet on an hour’s notice, which chocolate looks most like an oil spill, and how to get a gospel choir to sing the immortal words, ‘Go f@#k yourself!'”

And of course, in typical TDS style, they end with a sardonic joke: “PPS. Thanks to the male writers who penned this for us.”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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