left on the cutting room floor – stewart and wallace interview

You’ve probably seen the interview Jon Stewart did with Chris Wallace this weekend on Fox News Sunday, either the version that aired (14 minutes) or the complete unedited version (24 minutes). It’s not really a new data point in the Daily Show – Fox News battle . . . Wallace spends the whole time trying to get Stewart to acknowledge what he sees as an obvious truth: Stewart focuses more on Fox News than on CNN or MSNBC because he’s more aligned with them ideologically. Stewart pushes back that while he is more liberal than conservative, he is a comedian before anything. He says that while his ideology certainly informs his comedy, he is much more concerned with the comedy than the ideology.

Last night, Stewart talked a little about the interview on the Daily Show, highlighting the HuffPost’s coverage of it (they put Stewart’s “you’re insane” quote on the front page in approximately size 3000 font) and talking about the differences between the full interview and the version aired on Fox. Stewart highlighted this statement by Wallace, which Fox edited out of their aired version:

Stewart: You believe that Fox News is exactly the ideological equivalent of NBC News.

Wallace: I think we’re the counterweight. I think we’re the counterweight. I think that they have a liberal agenda, and I think we tell the other side of the story.

That’s not an insignificant statement, in that it basically gives away the fact that the whole “Fair and Balanced” thing is a total lie, as Stewart and David Corn at Mother Jones pointed out. But seeing Stewart point that edit out made me wonder what other differences there were between the unedited version and the version that aired on Fox News Sunday. So this morning, I put together this video that compiled all of the segments that Fox edited out.


It’s a bit of a mixed bag. There’s clearly some that cried out for editing: the banter at the beginning, Wallace’s refusal to acknowledge the merits of South Park (not that I agree with him, but in a time-constrained situation, that’s a reasonable thing to leave out). But there’s a surprising amount of stuff edited out that makes the interview fit more into Stewart’s narrative: it makes the interview more sensationalist and highlights conflict, while editing out some portions that aren’t favorable to Fox’s narrative. Some exchanges:

(From 7:07 in part one of the unedited video)

(From 9:22 in part one of the unedited video)

(From 9:58 in part one of the unedited video)

(From 11:21 in part one of the unedited video)

(From 8:36 in part two of the unedited video)

The first example above is a two-second segment that Fox edited out in which Stewart mentions Bill Sammon, the Fox editor who sent memos to supposed “news anchors” instructing them which words to use when talking about climate change and the public option. No bias in that edit.

The other two examples are both Stewart trying to clarify his main point, that he’s not on a news network and isn’t the same as the personalities on Fox. Wallace makes possibly the strongest argument for that when he shows the clip of the Pamela Anderson roast. He clearly thinks that he’s made some great point (see 6:45 in the video of edits for the discussion), but he’s really just proving Stewart’s point. He says “there’s good stuff and bad stuff” on both networks, without realizing that by equating Comedy Central and Fox, he’s equating the “bad stuff” on Fox (Hannity, Glenn Beck, The O’Reilly Show) with the roast of Pamela Anderson. And yet nobody considers Comedy Central a reliable place to go for news, while Fox paints itself as “Fair and Balanced.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview (also cut) comes at 4:34 in the above clip.

This is a perfect example of what Stewart is saying (and this substantial cut even comes seconds after Stewart says “I think we should have more full context”). A partisan media outlet pushing a partisan liberal agenda would have taken any chance to avoid talking about Weiner, who up until a few weeks ago was a progressive rising star. Instead, all three major news networks cut away from Pelosi and resumed talking about the “big” news of the day, Weiner’s resignation.

Since the interview, a few people have pointed out that there were a couple of factual errors brought up in the discussion. Politifact rated Jon Stewart’s claim that Fox viewers were the most consistently uninformed media consumers “False”, while people have pointed out that the clip that Wallace put up as an example of media bias (which was 10 months old… they couldn’t find anything more recent?) was actually accurate in its description of the bill. The difference? Jon Stewart issued a correction last night. Will we see a similar correction from Chris Wallace?

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