‘Pseudo-feud’ erupts between Stewart, Maddow over Haiti reporting

By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, January 16, 2010 14:06 EDT
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Comedy Central host Jon Stewart does not typically pick on MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Thursday night was an exception.

Amid an exploration of political and ideological exploitation of the catastrophe in Haiti, Stewart ran down a list of the most grievous offenders. At the end, he thanked MSNBC’s liberal host for her “sober, factual report” on U.S. aid efforts.

But the clip continued.

“The idea of more diplomacy and development — the idea of more USAID power — is a major part of the Obama administration’s agenda,” Maddow said. “… All of that, central to what the Obama administration says it wants to do differently than what Bush and Cheney did.”

“Not the right time!” Stewart belted. “Congratulations, MSNBC viewers: you are on the right side of this terrible, terrible tragedy.”

On Friday night, Maddow fired back, prompting Web site Mediaite to label the dust-up a “pseudo-feud.”

Maddow said that Stewart had “dinged” her for “putting [into context] what a big deal this administration has made about bringing the state department back, having them take a lead role in government again since the Bush administration somewhat downgraded the state department.”

“While Stewart was prodding the talking head because that’s his job, Maddow’s decision to take the teasing to heart brought out more pointed criticism from her end, challenging Stewart with an old line of attack: You’re not a journalist, so shut your mouth,” Mediaite wrote.

“I know that’s politics but …” Maddow began. “Listen, I love me some Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. I’m a big fan but, no apologies for reporting on which agency is the lead on our national efforts to respond to Haiti, whether or not that agency is well-resourced, whether it has been subject to partisan attacks, how much the current administration values and prioritizes and indeed brags on that agency.

“We all as Americans are counting on our government to do a good job in responding to this catastrophe. This is what it looks like to report on our government’s capacity to do just that.”

This video is from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, broadcast Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010.

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This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Friday, Jan. 15, 2010.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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