On the June 22, 2009 episode:
So, Jason Jones (?), Daily Show correspondent, recently went to Iran and interview three significant old men, all considered to be big enough threats to the current Iranian regime that they’ve been imprisoned in the last couple of weeks.
First of all, these interviews were horrible and disrespectful. They were in typical Daily Show style — a lot of weird questions that are designed to confuse the interviewee and make him look like an idiot — and usually I don’t have a problem with that, because these interviews are USUALLY designed to showcase hypocrisy and bring problems to the fore.
However, tonight’s interview was just in poor taste. These men appear to be solid, respectable, respectful, political lighthouses, and they may not have known they’d agreed to be on a satirical news show. Even if they had, they’ve been embracing every possibility to get some foreign publicity to help expose the electoral issues in Iran.
So, you take three old men, throw them on a satire, don’t really warn them what type of questions they’re going to get, and then confuse them and try to make them look like idiots?
These men are now in PRISON because they’re beacons of hope to the Iranian opposition. They are old, venerable, and gracious, and at least one was pulled out of a HOSPITAL to be thrown into prison. It’s great that the Daily Show interviewed them, but it should have treated them with respect.
Thankfully, this segment was somewhat mitigated afterwards by Jon Stewart interviewing the hospitalized cleric’s (?) son. Stewart was fairly respectful and somber for the most part, but even fucked up a little bit, himself. (I don’t remember the exact phrasing, but he did ask just one question, I don’t remember what it was, that was completely designed for laughs at the expense of this man and didn’t show any empathy whatsoever.)
I ask you to place yourself in the son’s shoes. Your father lives in another country — a state controlled by an authoritarian regime that has demonstrated that it is completely willing to use violence against peaceful civil disobedience — and your dad happens to be a respected and public figure of whom the state’s leadership is not particularly fond. Your dad has been in the hospital and was thrown in prison and was so sick in prison that the government has put him back in the hospital but has still got him shackled there.
Would you not be scared shitless? Would you not be so, so afraid for your father, who probably would not leave the country even if he could? Would you not feel impotent and restless and agitated and protective and so scared? You go on national television to publicize what is going on, personalize it a bit more, and you probably care about The Cause, but if it were me, I’d throw out The Cause if it meant that my dad would be given his dignity and let out of prison; if my dad could be in the hospital WITHOUT shackles.
Usually I love The Daily Show, but tonight I cry foul. The producers of this show, and especially this segment, should be ashamed of themselves and be grateful that these men took The Daily Show’s stunts and abuse with such grace.