Political Literacy: Sifting Thru The Spin
O Say Can You See...what's true and what isn't?
Show Description | Transcript | Order Videotape
Talking Action and Apathy with Jon Stewart | A Conversation with Bob Dole
First Person: Convention Impressions | The Sport of Politics
Top Ten Reasons To Vote | Make Your Voice Matter
ITM Reporters Liz and Rubin chatted with Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show", at the 2000 Republican National Convention

Rubin: Jon, first of all, you call yourself the number one "fake news show" in America. That seems to be a lot of the problem with politics: you don't know what's real and what's fake.

Jon: We are definitely a fake news show, and political conventions are definitely a fake news event. So, in some respects, we're probably the only news organization who should be here. I think it's a difficult proposition for kids to watch anything political they see on television and be remotely interested. But I don't think it's teenagers' faults. I think they have to fight through it and stay as involved as they can, but until somebody gives them something that they find uplifting, I don't how they can be expected to become involved in the process, even though I think it would behoove them to do so. I can understand why they might be apathetic about it. I get dispirited about it just by being around it.

Liz: What do you think kids gain by sticking with it?

Jon: Look at what you guys have been able to do in terms of entertainment, as far as dominating film releases or television shows. You know when I was a kid, by the way, that was back in the 1700's and we used to make a brick out of straw and water...Wouldn't this be great if this turned into a home economics segment where I suddenly showed you how to make bricks, and kids at home are like...huh? Anyway, until you become of age to vote, it's very difficult to wield any political power because nobody's going to care enough. They might talk about caring. When politicians talk about kids and teaching them how to read, they're not really talking to those kids, they're talking to those kids' parents, and they're trying to say, we share your concerns. Teenagers are sort of in an in-between time because your parents aren't really considered a voting block, and neither are you. Every advertising group in the country talks about 18-to-24's. "What do 18-to-24's think? That's where we have to gear all our products." Politicians at this point in American history are no different from advertisers. You guys have to use that to your advantage. You, as a certain audience, are a very powerful group. You can do alot.

Rubin: You talk about teens being apathetic. Do you think there's any way around that, or to change that feeling? I think the more you get involved, the more interesting it becomes.

Jon: People believed Kennedy when he said he was interested in public service, when he said "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." I think that message resonated. Maybe it was the 60's and a certain time of activism which faded out, but until somebody comes along again who people believe and feel isn't just scripting things for 4 days and 70 million dollars, and never speaking in reality, just always speaking in prepared, canned lines, how can anyone at home watch that and think that's inspiring? Until that changes, I don't know what you do.

Rubin: Do you know any way that teens can go about changing it?

Jon: I think power is in numbers, always has been, always will be. That's the key. I think the power comes in the fact that you guys have all just started voting or will be voting soon, and I think that's what you can do to change it, and I think they will. People talk about "Ah, kids today, they don't care about stuff." I don't get a sense of that. I get a sense that there's probably more of a volunteer spirit in kids today than there ever was.