Jon Stewart: ‘Evil is relatively rare. Ignorance is epidemic’
Jon Stewart spoke out on Wednesday in favor of citizen journalists and freelancers as assets in a media climate that is increasingly leaner on resources.
“Evil is relatively rare. Ignorance is epidemic,” Stewart told PBS host Charlie Rose. “The cure for that is journalism and expression. Technology’s democratized who is gonna be bearing witness.”
The Daily Show host was interviewed alongside journalist Maziar Bahari, whose imprisonment in Iran five years ago is the subject of Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, and actor Gabriel García Bernal, who plays Bahari.
Some of the footage used in the film, Stewart explained, was shot by Bahari before he was put in jail. Many foreign journalists working in the country had either been asked to leave, he said, or confined to their hotel rooms.
“So he felt a responsibility as the only really professionally-trained journalist still out there shooting,” he said of Bahari. “So he captured it and he got it uploaded.”
Stewart explained that with news organizations cutting their funding, more bloggers and activists are putting their own freedom on the line out of the need to “have a witness” to injustices in their own countries. He also said the film had led to some Iranian news outlets accusing him of being a tool of the CIA and the Mossad.
“I’m one of the few people who has been accused of being a Zionist and anti-Zionist,” he said. “It’s a Venn diagram, when it comes together there’s only like three of us in there.”
“That’s good,” Bahari joked. “I would hate it for the Revolutionary Guards to write a complimentary letter to Jon Stewart saying, ‘Death to all Jews except for Jon Stewart,’ and ‘You’re the only Jew that we like, in this film you really understood our values.'”
On the other hand, Bahari said, he would not be happy if American conservatives enjoyed the film, either.
“I think both extremists are going to find things to criticize,” he explained.
“Because they can find in this film that Iran doesn’t have the stereotypes that they have in their mind,” Rose responded, completing the thought.
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Wednesday, below.