August 25, 2008 / 11:44 PM / in 9 years

Jon Stewart shares conventional wisdom

<p>Host Jon Stewart delivers his monologue at the start of the 80th annual Academy Awards, the Oscars in Hollywood February 24, 2008. As he gets ready to preside over his third set of political conventions, "Daily Show" host Stewart said that from the show's standpoint, it doesn't matter who wins the presidency in November. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>

DENVER (Hollywood Reporter) - As he gets ready to preside over his third set of political conventions, “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart said that from the show’s standpoint, it doesn’t matter who wins the presidency in November.

“For our show, it’s absolutely irrelevant who’s president,” Stewart said Monday morning at a small gathering of reporters before his Comedy Central show begins its telecasts from the Democratic National Convention here.

“The jokes will be there, I‘m confident,” he said.

He declined to say whom he would vote for in November, but he said he thinks he has made up his mind.

“I think they would both be decent presidents,” Stewart said. He made no bones about his dislike for the Bush administration, saying that it hadn’t governed with public honor.

“I think they’ll (McCain and Obama) both govern from a place that is far less imperious,” Stewart said.

But Stewart didn’t reserve his fire for the Bush administration. He criticized the 24-hour cable news cycle, the sometimes cozy relationship of journalists and their sources in politics and government, and the evening newscasts.

Speaking to a room of print reporters from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and elsewhere, he said that the country’s news agenda shouldn’t be led by the 24-hour news channels.

“They’ve forced everything on a gerbil wheel,” he said.

Stewart spoke passionately about the future of newspapers, which he said should be thriving as news sources -- though not necessarily in print -- amid the cable news-led cycle. But he said that the network evening newscasts will become obsolete in the changing media environment.

“The nightly news is sort of the aggregator that will die, the idea that someone will come home at 6 p.m. and watch, ‘In tonight’s fleecing of America ...,”’ Stewart said. “They were fleecing us at 11.”

Stewart said frequent guest McCain hasn’t complained about how he’s been treated on “The Daily Show.”

“My guess is that it’s not particularly on his radar,” Stewart said, adding that “The Daily Show” plays a particular role: “We’re here to introduce him to 20-year-olds smoking out of apple bongs,” he joked.

“The Daily Show” has been preparing for its convention coverage for a long time. Because it’s taped in the late afternoon, before the night’s convention speeches, there’s no way to incorporate them into that night’s show. The crew works feverishly through the night to cut the video and write about those speeches and events for the next day’s installment.

“We have no actual journalistic capability,” Stewart said. “We don’t have the ability to report.”

Among the taped pieces that “The Daily Show” has prepared to air during the convention are segments involving a healing tent, puppets and a puppy.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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