RIP: John McCain

So…John McCain. His generic political “maverick” narrative overlooks a fascinating contribution to our pop culture.

On January 11, 1999 Jon Stewart began hosting The Daily Show when the original host Craig Kilborn left (to replace Tom Snyder on The Late Late Show.).

Over the course of 1999 Stewart slowly began transforming The Daily Show…retooling the staff, creating new segments etc. By December 1999 The Daily Show was promoting a new bit: Indecision 2000 (remember that?).

Thing is…for the most part the politicians (and more importantly their handlers) didn’t know who or what The Daily Show was. So nobody knew what to expect when for the first time correspondents like Steve Carell went on excursion to New Hampshire primary.

Initially they were treated like “real media.” Enough so they were able to board on Senator John McCain’s bus for an on camera interview. To which after asking a handful of inane questions Carell fired off: “how do you reconcile the fact that you are one of the most vocal critics of pork-barrel politics, and yet while you were chairman of the Commerce Committee, that committee set a record for unauthorized appropriations?”

That moment…that question lead to a great piece of comedy and set the tone for The Daily Show…establishing Carell and Colbert: Jon Stewart began to understand what The Daily Show could…should become. To both John McCain and his wife Cindy’s credit they were thrilled with this moment… as The Daily Show took off they understood their small role in making it happen.

All the relevant individuals (including John and Cindy McCain) discuss that defining moment in detail in The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests. Chapter 2 opens with this moment…fantastic contribution to our pop culture: check it out for all the fun details.

And…that’s all I know about John McCain.


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Also published on Medium.

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