Recently convicted/exonerated ex-goveror Rod Blagojevich returned to ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’ and had a pretty combative interview with the host, after Stewart had a field day with Fox News for reinforcing a wild theory he made in jest about their links to terrorism.
Blago was convicted of only one of the 24 indictments he’d been charged with without ever having to mount a defense, but Stewart hit him hard about the fact that he never testified in his own trial despite having come on ‘TDS’ months earlier claiming he was champing at the bit to do so to clear his name.
“I would like to see you as a Dickens character,” Stewart offered. “I would like to see you as a victim, but you make it so hard to take your side completely by not doing that.”
Blagojevich said he didn’t need to after the government failed to prove there was any wrongdoing, and he noted that “they threw everything at me but the kitchen sink. They accused me of the biggest corruption scandal, selling the president’s senate seat for money, and before I could catch my breath, everybody thought I was a scumbag around the world. That’s what I was up against.”
Stewart then seemed to get derailed by harping on something Blagojevich said the last time he was on ‘TDS’. Back then, Blago said that the next line after his infamous “I’m just not giving it up for f-ing nothing” quote being something that would exonerate him, but it actually didn’t come until later in the taped phone call. It seemed like a minor issue that Stewart was trying to make into a bigger one (although the editing of the broadcast version of the interview seems to have obscured his larger point about Blago’s need to testify sounding like it was a matter of principle over legal maneuvering), but it led into the harshest barb of the night.
“Do you promise to take the stand the next time you’re indicted?” the host quipped. “You’re a guy that is the most adamant about his innocence of anybody I’ve ever met, so you’re either the victim of a terrible persecution thing, or you’re a sociopath.”
Earlier in the broadcast, there was much delight in the mockery of Fox News, which so often seems to make themselves an easy target, what with massive donations to the Republican party or rambling non-justifications of ‘terror baby’ fears. But this time, it was something special.
Last week, ‘TDS’ used the same specious reasoning presented by a Fox News personality to link the Imam of the proposed Muslim community center in downtown Manhattan to Iran to also link Fox News themselves to terrorism. This centered around the fact that the owner of Fox News is Newscorp, and the second largest shareholder in that company behind Rupert Murdoch is Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal. Last night, Stewart said it was “a stupid and childish game I was playing. I was not suggesting that Fox News being in business with Bin Talal is actually sinister.”
As it turns out, Fox News actually did that for him. The next clip was Dan Senor on ‘Fox and Friends’ villifying the Kingdom Foundation, a funder of Imam Rauf’s and of “radical madrassas all over the world.” They never mentioned the man who runs the Kingdom Foundation by name – perhaps because he just happens to be Al-Waleed Bin Talal.
As you can imagine, there was much to mock about this for the ‘TDS’ crew, and it took the form of a debate on whether or not Fox News is evil or just stupid. Wyatt Cenac represented Team Evil with the suggesting that “Nobody’s that stupid. They’re deliberately hiding the truth. If Al-Waleed wasn’t part owner of Fox News, they’d have gone to town demonizing this guy! They would have said his full name over and over again!” He also noted that Senor, the man making that allusion, worked for George W. Bush, who “used to hang with Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal. That’s some evil sh-t! It’s a level of knowing obfuscation that can only come from having a heart of pure evil!”
John Oliver was on the other side, saying “They’re stupid, Jon. Staggeringly, achingly, almost inspiringly stupid,” and “You know they don’t even have a teleprompter at Fox News? It’s just a man jangling his keys above the camera!”
In the hopes of finding some middle ground, they settled on agreeing if they’re not stupid, they’re evil, and if they’re not evil, they’re stupid. “We’re talking potatoes with mouths,” Cenac said, before Oliver corrected him with “Not even potatoes, Wyatt. A potato can still power a digital clock. You’re talking about rocks with mouths.”
To top it all off, the Moment of Zen was a clip of Bin Talal being welcomed warmly onto a Fox Business channel show.