Tucker Carlson has always been a pompous windbag. Even worse, he used to be a pompous windbag with a bow tie. While his tendency toward bloviation might seem like a prerequisite for hosting a show on Fox News, there was a time—from 2000 to 2005—when Carlson was employed by CNN. From the very beginning, it was clear that the pairing was not meant to be. But it took a hero named Jon Stewart to make this painfully obvious to the world (and the news network’s powers-that-be).
Recently, a short clip of Stewart’s infamous 2004 appearance on the Carlson-co-hosted Crossfire has been making the social media rounds and fans can’t get enough of the then-host of The Daily Show’s utter evisceration of Carlson—and his bow tie.
This is incredible.pic.twitter.com/WUbQGacpQT
— Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) May 4, 2021
Though Stewart was on the show presumably to promote his new book, America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, it was clear that he had other plans. Namely: To ask Carlson and his co-host Paul Begala to use their platform to encourage real conversations with politicians and to speak for the American people instead of being “partisan hacks.” Carlson’s response? To reference Stewart’s recent interview with then-presidential candidate John Kerry and call him a “suck-up.”
Carlson did attempt to backtrack a little and assure Stewart that he and Begala were there “to love you, not confront you. We’re here to be nice.” But Stewart wasn’t having any of it. Even if Carlson was there to be nice, Stewart was not: “I’m here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they’re hurting us… It’s hurting America. Here is what I wanted to tell you guys: Stop. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.”
In addition to the clip, you can watch the full interview above—or read the full transcript from the show here.
There’s also an interesting postscript to this story: Many media insiders have pointed to Stewart’s interview, which aired on October 15, 2004, as a key factor in Carlson’s contract with CNN not being renewed. When that was announced less than two months later, Carlson immediately went on the defensive. Oddly, he used much of what Stewart himself had been saying to explain his departure from the network:
“I resigned from Crossfire in April , many months before Jon Stewart came on our show, because I didn’t like the partisanship, and I thought in some ways it was kind of a pointless conversation… each side coming out, you know, ‘Here’s my argument,’ and no one listening to anyone else. [CNN] was a frustrating place to work.”
Kind of interesting to see people discover and resdicover this moment from (gasp) nearly 20 years ago.
Jon Stewart literally destroyed Tucker Carlson’s CNN show by humiliating him on live TV. The show never recovered and was canceled.
Carlson has known ever since that he is just a spoiled little laughingstock one humiliating segment away from being outed as a clown again. https://t.co/qe33doVAh4
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@TheRealHoarse) May 5, 2021
Still glorious after all these years. Tucker had to throw in the towel because Jon Stewart owned him. The show was cancelled soon after. Since then, Tucker uses his Fox show as a bully pulpit to makes sure that he'll never be humiliated again. https://t.co/5sYE66aPKq
— Wajahat "Fasting" Ali (@WajahatAli) May 5, 2021
Jon Stewart in 2004 calling out Tucker Carlson for the damage people like him are doing to American society. https://t.co/7mL6I7MK5e
— MuslimMarine (@mansoortshams) May 4, 2021
I forget sometimes that there are people who don’t know that Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson used to have a bullshit show together and that Jon Stewart destroyed it. https://t.co/UBR5VWm6uA
— Tara (@tara_atrandom) May 4, 2021
— Tom Prescott (@TommyPresscot) May 5, 2021
(Via Keith Edwards)