Jezebel v. Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart deftly wicks away antagonism. His skill with socially-conscious satire allows him to handle weighty political issues, while his status as a half-baked comedian frees him from being burdened by them. On the Progressive Left, he’s been all-but-beatified for embracing liberal values and acting as a counterweight to Fox News.

This is why there was a major splash when he was recently accused of running a sexist work environment. The accusations come from an article at Jezebel – a women’s interest blog – which opens by stating that The Daily Show (TDS) is a “boys’ club where women’s contributions are often ignored and dismissed.” Specifically, Jezebel highlights the lack of female correspondents and writers, while suggesting that off-air Jon Stewart is testy, or, in his words: “Jezebel thinks I’m a sexist prick.”

The female employees at TDS responded, noting that, while the on-air talent is predominately male, 40% of the show’s total staff is female. They were adamant in their defense of Stewart. ”Jon has worked hard to create an environment where people feel respected and valued regardless of their gender or position,” they said.

From these exchanges, it’s difficult to determine much about the actual work environment at TDS. Jezebel’s article cites disgruntled former staffers, while the response comes from employees who have a vested interest in staying employed.

One of those is newly-hired ‘correspondent,’ Olivia Munn, whose career has included (non-nude) photo shoots for Playboy and Maxim. “It’s hard not to conclude that looks mattered more for women than for men,” the article says. It’s ironic that Jezebel criticizes TDS for being sexist, while simultaneously belittling their newest female addition as eye candy.

But there’s another far more striking irony. Jezebel takes TDS to task for its scarcity of female writers/correspondents. But a review of the Jezebel staff (listed on the left of their page) reveals that the number of male writers/editors is quite low. Zero.

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44 Comments

  1. Ian

    Yeah the Jezebel article was such a load. TDS may actually be a sexist work environment, but there is so much wrong with how Jezebel went about their “journalism” that the story loses any credibility.

  2. joeroeyo

    This is utter garbage, how is it difficult to determine quality of the work environment? TDS female staffers put out a rebuttal glowing with support of Jon Stewart. If he truly was a sexist boss, wouldn’t this be the perfect time to expose him from the inside? Did the author of this even read the staffers’ response? They love their boss and go in to detail as to how he creates a great work environment. Shoddy journalism, poor writing, and too many conclusions to jump to. Report real news, not unsubstantiated claims from an ironically sexist, anti-sexist blog.

  3. Sarah

    Regardless of whether the article is true or not, to attack Jezebel for not having any male staff is a silly argument–it’s a blog specifically for women. The Daily Show isn’t called “The Nightly News for Men” or some lameass Spike TV-ish other name… it’s aimed at everyone, even if slightly more males watch than females.

  4. Clint

    joeroeyo,

    Thank you for your praise.

    “how is it difficult to determine quality of the work environment?”

    Because I don’t work there.

    “TDS female staffers put out a rebuttal glowing with support of Jon Stewart.”

    If everyone on your staff signed a letter defending your publicly-beloved boss, would you abstain? Or might you fear for your job security?

  5. Meryl Kaufman

    The Daily Show is a comedy show, and unfortunately because of many societal and evolutionary factors, Women aren’t as funny as Men. Obviously, women can be funny, but Men tend to be funnier or at least know what sorts of things audiences find funny.

  6. boodle

    @Sarah: I think that’s a hollow argument. Only women can write for women? Only men can write for men? To suggest that it’s OK for Jezebel to have no male writers or editors because their demographic is _mainly_ female is harmful, I believe.

    If you look at FHM magazine, a magazine For Him, they should be allowed to have 0 female editors or writer right? I mean, it’s For Him:
    http://www.fhm-international.com/editions.asp?ID=223

    Jezebel went after the easy moral high ground and failed because of hypocrisy; righteous indignation is a very easy corner to fight from. I’m not defending TDS (or FHM for that matter), but to say that different rules should apply because their targeted audience is female is a fallacy.

    Anyway, just my two pence.

  7. Madog

    if it’s silly to attack Jezebel for not having any male staffers because it’s for women, then it’s equLly silly to attack TDS for having a 40% male staff because it’s a comedy show.

    I’d be very surprised if the total number of female versus male comedians is even close to 40%.

  8. Liza

    “The Daily Show is a comedy show, and unfortunately because of many societal and evolutionary factors, Women aren’t as funny as Men. Obviously, women can be funny, but Men tend to be funnier or at least know what sorts of things audiences find funny.”

    Wow Meryl, that isn’t a sexist stereotype at all! Now, I am going to go back and crochet some sweaters while men make their ever so funny rape jokes on the TeeVee.

  9. Jay

    I thought it was interesting in the Jezebel comments how they kept saying they were part of the gawker network, and there are plenty of men in the gawker network. By that assumption, maybe they should take comedy central to task, or better yet Viacom or whomever owns Comedy Central? Seriously, Jezebel is crap along with most of the other gawker blogs. (except lifehacker and io9)

  10. Mark

    Don’t forget to check the current census to get the exact percentages for every racial and cultural group within the US, so you can make sure TDS isn’t under-representing any particular group! It’s bad enough a white guy gets to sit in front of the camera the most, making TDS a sexist, racist show by default in my book! And by all means, interview only people who quit or were fired from the show to get the most accurate information on how management treats the staff! GO JOURNALISM!

  11. Phillip Banks Attourney at Law

    @Liza

    If you were trying to be funny you have failed. Prove your point and make me laugh without trying to be argumentative and getting the last word in. You can’t, or won’t, because that’s how women are.

  12. Todd

    boodle makes a valid argument.

    There is uproar from a women’s blog because talking about John Stewart brings in readers. Site traffic must have gone up. Honestly, I’m tired of people sitting on the high horse preaching live as I say, not as I do.

  13. Todd

    Liza,

    you speak of stereotypes, but then you reinforce another by smack talking men with your little retort. “AND I THOUGHT WOMEN ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE BEST AT NAGGING AHAHAHAHAHA”

    Maybe you should drop the crochet hooks and relax a little. Another woman has just admitted an universal truth. Men are funnier. Accept it. Women like men for humor. Trust me there’s not one guy who puts humor as a number one priority when choosing a partner.

    Maybe your little fragile ego is hurt that there are limitations to your gender.
    At least God gave you the white tee boxes right?

  14. Ummm…last I checked Comedy Central was interested in the male demographic, if you think that all those axe and old spice commericals are targeted towards women then you got another thing coming. This smells like one of Sam B’s friends might’ve caught wind about how much she sucked on the show and decided it’d be fun to play mud fight with words, hope Jon puts these jezefems in their place…and I don’t mean the kitchen but in this case I DO, I REALLY DO…get a life Clint.

  15. Chris

    Hrmmm…

    I don’t think men or women have a genetic advantage to being funny. Of course there are more famous men in comedy than there are in women, and I’m sure that’s because men have traditionally dominated the field for patriarchal reasons. That pretty much goes for every high paying job. It’s only been a few hundred years since women were even allowed to act in public (remember that men and boys played the roles of women in Shakespeare’s plays due to sexist customs in England).

    Besides, there are plenty of funny women. Sarah Silverman is hilarious. Tina Fey leads my favorite sitcom. Samantha Bee is awesome on TDS.

  16. Pelonis

    @Chris
    You forgot the funniest lady of them all

    Sarah Palin

  17. Liza

    @Todd: Actually, funny story about that Todd. The more idiotic and sexist remarks you make to people like myself the more I am convinced that I don’t need to pay the cable company anymore to watch Jon Stewart swing his funny dick around. I can just watch Pot Psychology and get high, while really profound morons like yourself send in questions about not being able to get laid.

  18. Jezebel is the kind of grumpy, spiteful and annoying feminism that I, as a woman, am sick to death of.
    I don’t hate men. Really, I don’t. That’s not the point of feminism at all. It’s about equality, it’s about recognizing what women contribute, it’s about having the right to choose for yourself, it’s about recognizing privilege and working against it. It’s an open ideology which welcomes men to be part of it.
    Jezebel is about provoking, not conversing. Read the comments, anyone who doesn’t conform to a very hard-line view of what they think feminism is, or dares to be “judge-y” (and what a fucking STUPID word that is) about anything is pounded down into the sand.
    It’s telling that they heaped scorn on the Daily Show after it hired Olivia Munn. A woman who is “conventionally attractive” and not filled with the self-loathing of many female comedians (what is up with Liz Lemon being a complete sex-hating food freak? or how Janene Garafolo just yells about how stupid everyone is but her?) is anathema to them. I don’t think Munn is all that funny actually, but that doesn’t mean she’s an affront to women everywhere because she makes jokes that involve her boobs.

  19. joe

    @sarah: So men can’t or shouldn’t write for a publication aimed at a female audience? Sexist bitch.

  20. I Spy Trolls

    The silliness of the “men-are-better-at-comedy-naturally” thing is the most obvious troll I’ve spotted today.

    ?_?

  21. chudez

    the writer makes a valid point that it’s hard to put a value on either Jezebel’s statements (because the statements come from disgruntled ex-workers) and the open response by the female staff at TDS (as we cannot gauge the sincerity of the response).

    so how’s this for a measurement? the average number of years of employment for female staff members is 7.5., with over a third having a period of employment in excess of 10 years.

    i don’t know about you, but if i can’t stand my employer, i’d consider a year an eternity and i’d probably only stay with a company for a decade if i can find a measure of contentment and satisfaction in the job.

  22. Jimmy Cracked Corn

    Liza – your post merely reinforced the comment you meant to dissect….it wasn’t funny at all. Crochet? Rape jokes? What the wha….??

  23. Alex

    I think men are funnier than women because we have penises and women have vaginas,now try to imagine a man making a penis joke and then a woman making a vagina joke, and also men really dont have any boundaries when it comes to comedy

  24. Jezebel has attacked Jon Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg. They got a couple of clicks out of me, but it left me with a lot of negative associations to Jezebel and I like Jon and Whoopi as much as ever. So their point?

  25. Biggus Dickus

    How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

  26. Jeffrey

    “If everyone on your staff signed a letter defending your publicly-beloved boss, would you abstain? Or might you fear for your job security?”

    It would kind of depend upon how I felt about my publicly-beloved boss. If he were actually a great guy, I’d be happy to step up and defend him. If he were a sexist prig, I’d abstain, and THEN fear for my job security. What I won’t do is offer praise for someone who doesn’t deserve it. Your willingness to assume that most people would, Clint, implies that you cave in to the slightest pressure or stress.

  27. arpex

    Since when has ANY part of Gawker Media been journalism? It’s a massive chain of blogspam crapfests.

  28. Hrmmm…

    I don’t think men or women have a genetic advantage to being funny. Of course there are more famous men in comedy than there are in women, and I’m sure that’s because men have traditionally dominated the field for patriarchal reasons. That pretty much goes for every high paying job. It’s only been a few hundred years since women were even allowed to act in public (remember that men and boys played the roles of women in Shakespeare’s plays due to sexist customs in England).

    Besides, there are plenty of funny women. Sarah Silverman is hilarious. Tina Fey leads my favorite sitcom. Samantha Bee is awesome on TDS.

  29. Scrotum Sack

    How many male staffers work at jezebel? zero. Bwaa ha haa!! Jezebel should be lucky if Jon let them make him a sammich!

  30. Sam

    Feminist blogs like Jezebel survive on content that causes outrage among women. Jezebel feeds insecure women, just like Fox News feeds racists what they want to hear. It’s just a big circlejerk and these publications are best ignored, rather than taken seriously. Emily Gould of Slate wrote a good piece about this very Jezebel article, if anyone is interested in a smart woman’s perspective.

  31. Jon

    This is just another ploy by gawker media to make themselves relevant. (i.e. stealing an iPhone from a guy at a bar) It’s too bad Jezebel dot com has resorted to the same shady tactics – they might have made some progress for women’s equality.

  32. Dan

    @COMMONSENSE the old spice man is speaking directly to women

  33. The women at Jezebel don’t have two IQ points to rub together, so who cares what they think? What worries me is that Stewart, feminist pussy that he is, may react by giving more women jobs just for being women.

  34. Mike

    I think the simple fact that anyone is taking Jezebel or Gawker Media Inc seriously in any way, shape or form is hilarious in itself. Gawker.com is generally just a pos website that likes to get attention by calling celeb’s “Ugly” or “Stupid” just so that celeb can come out and bash Gawker back. Essentially feeding the troll that spends its days begging and pleading with the rest of the world to give it the attention it craves so much.

    On that note has anyone seen Doc Brown anywhere?! I could really use him to go back in time so I can reclaim the 2 minutes thinking about and writing about all this.

  35. Bob Loblaw

    Sarah Silverman isn’t funny at all.

  36. Jacob Gold

    @Sarah

    You should apply for a job at Jezebel. You meet all of their qualifications.

  37. Taavet

    I vaguely remember the questions of female comedians coming up on QI a while ago. Stephen quoted statistics that showed that while, on average, women laugh more at comedians, they laugh less at other women. Thus, male performers get more laughs.

  38. Some Guy

    My high esteem for John Stewart and the Daily Show would have been raised even higher, if he had simply looked into the camera and said “Get a life, you pack of pushy broads!”

  39. YTMND

    How many male writers do you have on staff at Jezebel?

  40. Your Dad

    Someone should fire this blogger and replace her with a man, you sexist hypocrites.

  41. John H.

    Meryl’s comment about societal and evolutionary factors makes sense. Both men and women have a sense of humor; men can use theirs to impress women; women can use theirs to test the men.

    Not so much the other way around though.

  42. Ian

    I’ve yet to read a compelling argument for Jezebel’s article. The whole notion of TDS’s female staffers signing the letter out of fear for their job is completely without value. That’s not based on any evidence at all.

  43. No males at Jezebel! An excellent example of yet another double standard that the purveyors of subtle and not so subtle misandry will have no trouble rationalizing away. It just doesn’t fit their preferred victim narrative.

  44. James

    So how many males work at Jezebek?