Larry King spent the hour with Comedy Central's Jon Stewart on his show Wednesday night and Stewart was asked what he thought about CNN's Rick Sanchez being fired after calling Jon Stewart a "bigot" and saying that CNN and other news networks are run by Jewish people. Stewart did not think that Sanchez should have been fired just for his statements on Pete Dominick's radio show and that CNN was just looking for an excuse to fire him anyway.
When asked by King why Stewart picks on CNN so much Stewart replied "You're terrible!" and went on to chastise the network for squandering the opportunity "to be a real arbiter" of the news rather than running so many of their fake balance segments that they're so fond of.
Stewart also had some praise for Fox News, but not because he agrees with them or thinks that they are a news organization. He is absolutely correct that they are not a news organization, but an extremely effective political organization.
KING: Jon Stewart. We have several Tweets to Kings Things.
STEWART: This is a problem. News people shouldn't be going, we've got some Tweets. It's like you walked out in the middle of this and said, I was in the bathroom and a guy mentioned to me, you know --
KING: These are human beings and they're Tweeting us. Do you have no respect for them?
STEWART: I don't know who they are. They could be anybody. They could be pretending to be -- who the hell knows who they are?
KING: They're asking this: what you thought about CNN, us, firing Rick Sanchez after he called you a bigot?
STEWART: Is that 140 characters, because that sounded a lot more than 140 characters. It sounded like somebody sent you a double or triple Tweet.
KING: May have been a double Tweet.
STEWART: We're on a news program and you're saying to me, so there's a Tweet. Isn't that a question you probably could have thought of yourself?
KING: We like to involve the audience. It's a gimmick.
STEWART: All right.
KING: Well, what do you think?
STEWART: Should they have fired him for that? No.
KING: You think they made a mistake?
STEWART: With the crap you guys have put on over the last ten years. What, are you kidding me? Fire somebody if you don't think they're doing a good job as a news person. This whole idea that people -- you know, they fired a woman for Tweeting something on her thing on her blog. They fired Sanchez for saying what he said.
I think it's absolute insanity. I think this idea that people have to be held to account for everything that comes out of their mouths as far as their livelihoods is concerned -- does he do a good job? Were you pleased with his job? Or was it an excuse to -- you know, to get rid of him?
KING: What did you think of the job he was doing?
STEWART: He's a ham. I mean, I wasn't crazy about the show. Do you think I want to see a newsman get tased and then get into a car and drive it into a river? It would be like, this is how you get out. What? What are you doing? But --
KING: Were you not hurt by him calling you that? Personally hurt?
STEWART: No, I was not personally hurt by him calling me a bigot. I make jokes about people for a living. If that's the least -- you should hear what people call me when I'm walking home. You have no idea the vitriol that comes my way on a daily basis. Bigot, I almost wanted to hug him and go, really, you think? That nice?
KING: Why do you pick on --
STEWART: And, again, the idea that they would have fired him for calling me a bigot. I think if that's the reason, hire him back tomorrow, because I -- you know, my feeling is, you know, when he said -- you know, there was a -- the thought that he had said that Jews control the media and that maybe that would have ruffled some feathers, that they felt that was --
KING: Maybe that was the reason.
STEWART: OK, but even that, I'm sorry, that is a nasty thing to say. I don't think he actually means that. But I don't think that's a fireable offense. Unless it's, you know -- yeah, if you criticize your bosses sometimes. But even that.
KING: Why do you pick on CNN so much?
STEWART: You're terrible!
KING: Why are you here?
STEWART: I like you.
KING: You set me apart from the network I work at?
STEWART: You're all people. It's not that -- you know -- the reason -- I didn't -- again, I became an easy excuse for people up top who wanted to get rid of a show that was sort of low ranked to do that. Believe me, if I had that kind of power in the world, we'd leave in a much different world. Cancer would be ice cream.
The idea that CNN has this infrastructure -- they have all this international reach. They have all this technology. And it sometimes feels squandered. That's all, squandered opportunity. That's all I'm saying.
KING: What do you make of Fox?
STEWART: I think brilliantly authoritative. They know what they're doing. People would take well to heed how tenacious they are, how bold they are. They express editorial authority.
I think they're wrong. But I appreciate that they're trying. And, you know, I don't think it's a right and left thing. I don't think that's what's going to be important. I think CNN has a -- an opportunity to be a real arbiter. But being a real arbiter means taking a stand, not just having people on -- you're on the left, you're on the right. That's like having people on in the cola wars. You're from Pepsi; you're from Coke. What do you think? I think we taste great. I think we taste great. That's all the time we have.
Both terrific points of view. You know? It's about being authoritative, about earning credibility. CNN, more than anybody, has the infrastructure to be able to accomplish that. And instead, they make a holographic Jessica Yellin and they just make her come up as a holograph on election night. Do you remember that?
KING: Yeah, once they did that.
KING: But Fox, you think they're fair and honest in reporting?
STEWART: What? No. God no.
KING: But that's their motto.
STEWART: What? That's their motto?
KING: Yes. STEWART: Well, that's a complete lie.
STEWART: No, I think they're tenacious. I think they are confident. And they are -- they are showing the model of how to build an organization that believes in something. I think what they -- I think it is wrong-headed for a news organization. I think they've built an incredible political organization, really effective political organization.
KING: So it's a political organization?
STEWART: Yes, that's right. But you could do with it the thing. But instead, you have to throw it to "Parker/Spitzer."
KING: "Parker/Spitzer" airs at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right now before this show. Take a look at what Kathleen and Elliot discussed today. And then Jon Stewart and I --
STEWART: And they had a Danish.
KING: We'll be right back.
And Jon just gave me another excuse to post one of my favorite segments where he appeared on CNN's Crossfire and Stewart told Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that they are hurting America.