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Thiessen Vs. Stewart: Was Stewart Any More Rude Than Normal?

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Posted on March 10 2010 12:11 am

So I just watched Marc Thiessen’s appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, if for no other reason than to watch some bloodshed. Thiessen, as the author of Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama is Inviting the Next Attack had to have taken some major doses of xanax before entering the studio.

The big talk about the segment will be how Thiessen repeatedly told Stewart to let him make his point and complained at the end of the interview that Stewart “talked right through” the entire segment. Stewart replied by apologizing and said the entire interview would be posted online so viewers could see if he was mistreated and he’d be able to make his point more fully. Thiessen, still aggravated, said, “So I can’t make my point on the air?”

Personally, I think Thiessen was given enough time to effectively make his points and I think that once video is posted, if we time how much each side spoke, you’ll see Thiessen probably had more, although he deserved more as a guest. I can still fully understand Thiessen’s frustration in not being able to fully flush out his points—but that’s the style of The Daily Show, extremely quick and brief (and no, I don’t think I could have done any better).

For example, I have no idea how I’d briefly make the rebuttal to one of Stewart’s points that I think should be addressed. When Thiessen points out that there was no attack on the U.S. since 9/11, Stewart points out that there was no attack on the U.S. for a similar time period following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Thiessen responds by noting that Al-Qaeda attacked overseas, and Stewart equates that with the attacks on London, Madrid, and elsewhere following 9/11.

The difference is that it was much, much harder to stop attacks in 2001 and thereafter. Al-Qaeda’s strength had grown. The fact that 9/11 occurred less than a year after Clinton left office indicates that the attacks prior reflected this building up of power that culminated in that horrid day and reflects a failure of policy for the prior decade. If an attack of that scale occurred within a year of Obama of taking office, you can bet that Bush’s critics would (accurately) attribute it to his failure to address a growing threat that materialized on Obama’s watch, unless they could prove that someone with knowledge of the attack was apprehended and did not break because of the tighter interrogation rules.

I personally can’t wait for the full interview to be posted. It was a very good debate, and was the best one on The Daily Show since Cliff May’s appearance.

But, I should stop discussing Stewart’s program now. It reminds me of when I was 17 or 18, and a producer from the show emailed me and set up a loose appointment to send one of their correspondents to my home to interview me (and probably make a fool of me) regarding my national security work.  They didn’t show up, and the producer kept insisting that it was definitely going to happen. As a teenager, you can imagine how excited I was.

As it turns out, the producer didn’t know how to tell me that they canned the idea and kept leading me on. What happened? Jon Stewart vetoed the segment after it was given the green light by the producers because there “wasn’t enough conflict in the storyline.”

Yeah, that was a rough day. And now I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. Why have I been single for three years? Will I ever find a secure job that I love doing? Am I destined to a life of financial struggle? God, are you there? Ah, lucky for me there is still a six-pack in my refrigerator from the St. Patrick Day’s parade this weekend. Damn you Jon Stewart, damn you for what you have done to me!

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