Tucker Carlson has always been a haughty knucklehead. Worse, he used to be a haughty jerk with a bow tie. Although his proclivity for bloviating may seem to be a requirement for hosting a show on Fox News, Carlson did work for CNN from 2000 to 2005. It was clear from the start that this pairing was not meant to be. But it took a hero named Jon Stewart to make the world (and the news network’s powers-that-be) aware of this.
Stewart’s notorious 2004 appearance on the Carlson-co-hosted Crossfire has recently been making the rounds on social media, and fans can’t get enough of the then-host of The Daily Show’s absolute evisceration of Carlson—and his bow tie.
Despite the fact that Stewart was on the show to promote his latest novel, America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, it was obvious that he had other ideas. To put it another way, instead of being “political hacks,” Carlson and his co-host Paul Begala should use their platform to promote meaningful discussions with politicians and to speak for the American people. Carlson’s retort? To brand then-presidential candidate John Kerry a “suck-up” in reference to Stewart’s latest interview with him.
Carlson tried to backtrack a little, assuring Stewart that he and Begala were there “to love you, not confront you.” We’ve come to be pleasant.” Stewart, on the other hand, was not having it. Even if Carlson was there to be sweet, Stewart was not: “I’m here to confront you because we need the media’s support and they’re hurting us… It is causing harm to the United States of America. This is what I wanted to say to you: STOP. You have a duty to the public debate, and you utterly fail.”
You can watch the entire interview above or read the entire show transcript here. This tale concludes with an intriguing postscript: Many media insiders believe Stewart’s interview, which aired on October 15, 2004, was a major factor in Carlson’s contract not being renewed with CNN. Carlson quickly went on the defensive when this was revealed less than two months later. Surprisingly, he cited much of what Stewart had said to justify his departure from the network: “I resigned from Crossfire in April , many months before Jon Stewart came on our show, because I didn’t like the partisanship, and I thought in some ways it was kind of a pointless conversation… each side coming out, you know, ‘Here’s my argument,’ and no one listening to anyone else. [CNN] was a frustrating place to work.”
It’s kind of cool to see people rediscover and rediscover this moment from nearly two decades ago.