Jon Stewart and Sean Hannity In a War of Words

Jon Stewart is on a roll this week. After publicly ridiculing and comparing George W. Bush's retirement to that of Jimmy Carter, and mocking coal miners for losing their jobs (and that they should go an work for the NFL), he has also had a war of words with Sean Hannity.  

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Stewart said Hannity is "probably the most loathsome dude" at Fox News. "That's just pure cynicism, and it's horrible," Stewart said of Hannity's program. "Everything is presented in as devious a manner as it could possibly be presented."

Politico reached out to Hannity for comment, and Hannity responded that Stewart should stick to his day job of reading jokes:

"Nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps, nearly 50 million in poverty, the lowest labor participation rate since 1978, and Jon's beloved president who once said George Bush's debt was 'irresponsible and unpatriotic' has almost accumulated more debt then every other President before him combined," Hannity wrote. "Do I even need to remind him about keeping our doctors, our health plans and saving money? And how is that healthcare website working out? Or Iraq, ISIS, the 'Russian reset'?"

"Jon's problem is he has his head so far up Obama's ass he cannot see clearly, he is obviously better suited to reading his joke writers' material, and making his clapping-seal audience happy," Hannity continued.

"I await another Rally to Restore Sanity with Fatwa supporter Cat Stevens!!" he said, referring to the event that Stewart and Stephen Colbert hosted in Washington, D.C., in 2010."

Apparently, Stewart admitted a "soft spot" for another FNC host, Bill O'Reilly. "It's more sexual tension than anything else," Stewart joked. "People say, ‘Why do you have him on? He's evil!" But I don't think he's evil. He has a viewpoint. It's pretty rigid. It's dogma. I don't think it's informed, but he argues it well. He has a sense of humor about it.”

Here's a longer segment of Andy Greene's Rolling Stone interview, leading up to the Hannity-bashing:

Do you respect O'Reilly as a broadcaster?

I think he’s a great broadcaster. I think he understands his audience, though I think it's sometimes to the detriment of his audience.

There's a lot of money in keeping certain segments of the population in a state of perpetual anger and fear.

But they do it in a much more mainstream way than right wing radio. If you listen to right wing radio you feel like they’re going to end every broadcast with, "And so go out there tonight with a torch and a pitchfork and chase down these demons that are destroying this nation."

I think that Roger Ailes' great gift was mainstreaming that nativist, paranoid streak in American politics and putting it on television in a much prettier, shinier box. What they did was change the inflection point. AM talk radio is, "We are being robbed by communists and progressives that are destroying this country. They are a cancer and treasonous!" Fox News does it like, [sweet, cheery voice] "Are we being run by communists? Is it treason what they're doing? Let's have the discussion."

Sean Hannity is clearly just a partisan Republican, but it's not that simple with O’Reilly.

He's a populist with a nativist bent. There's that sort of grand nostalgia that a certain type of populist has for the country that used to exist in this magical state, but that's not actually real. He has this vision of Levittown and how it made him, but there was a bar of entry to that. The fact his family could get that house and build wealth there is a big deal.

When people scream "I Want My Country Back!" at Tea Party rallies, I can't help but think many of them really mean, "I want my youth back. I want it to be 1955 again." It's almost like they're blaming Obama for the fact the world has changed a lot since they were kids.

I don't disagree. They also blame Clinton and anybody who isn't a Republican. That's because their vision of the country is so simplistic. You want to say to them, "Yeah, things did seem nicer when you were eight."

Right, as if the 1950s was nothing but stickball and sock hops.

What they forget is that in the 1950s we had a 25 percent poverty rate. We had black servicemen coming back who couldn't get jobs and couldn't live in certain places because of their skin. You cannot divorce the realities of your idyllic Mayberry childhood from that type of injustice, but they do.

Do you think O'Reilly believes everything he says, or does he sometimes just say what he thinks his viewers want to hear?

I think he comes by his views honestly. I can't say I find him to be disingenuous. I just think that, in general, the right has moved so far out in that direction that O'Reilly appears to be almost a Kennedy Democrat by this point.

Politico Rolling Stone Jon Stewart Sean Hannity Bill O'Reilly
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