Jon Stewart on Tucker Carlson’s Putin Interview & Trip to Russia | The Daily Show | Transcript

In response to online backlash over his criticism of Joe Biden last week, Jon studies Tucker Carlson's interview with Vladimir Putin in Russia for a lesson in speaking "of course" to power.
Jon Stewart on Tucker Carlson’s Putin Interview & Trip to Russia

In response to online backlash over his criticism of Joe Biden last week, Jon studies Tucker Carlson‘s interview with Vladimir Putin in Russia for a lesson in speaking “of course” to power. Plus, Michael Kosta reports from North Korea to demonstrate how nice life under a dictatorship can be.

Published on February 20, 2024

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JON: Welcome to The Daily Show. I’m your host, Jon Stewart, captain of this dying medium. Why would you even say that to me? I had a gentleman tell me tonight, he said, oh, I’m so happy to be here. You know, television is dying. I said, I am aware. And, in fact, I’m contributing to it. You’re welcome. I did have such a good time last week doing the program. And then everybody at Comedy Central was like, oh, what are you going to do this week? And I was like, wait, this week? I did already– I did it Monday. What am I, a cyborg? Come on. But I don’t mind because, quite frankly, the response to the first show last Monday was universally glowing.

REPORTER: Jon Stewart is facing massive backlash from Democrats over his comments about Joe Biden. Olbermann tweeted, “Well, after nine years away, there’s nothing else to say to the bothsideist fraud Jon Stewart bashing Biden, except– please make it another nine years. Chris D. Jackson tweeted, “Sorry, but I won’t be watching you either.”

JON: OK. Maybe not universal. But that was on Twitter. Everything on Twitter gets a backlash. I’ve seen Twitter tell labradoodles to go f*ck themselves, labradoodles. I just think it’s better to deal head-on with what’s an apparent issue to people. I mean, we’re just– we’re just talking here.

REPORTER: And Mary Trump tweeting, “Not only is Stewart’s ‘both sides are the same’ rhetoric not funny, it’s a potential disaster for democracy.”

JON: It was one f*cking show. It was just one f*cking show. It was 20 minutes. I did 20 minutes of one [bleep] show. But I guess as the famous saying goes, democracy dies in discussion. But, look, (SOUTHERN ACCENT) I have sinned against you. I’m sorry. (SPEAKING NORMALLY) It was never my intention to say out loud what I saw with my eyes and then brain. I can do better. I can haz learning. I can haz it. But I don’t even know where to start with that. Where do I go to study the particulars of unquestioning propaganda? I would need mentorship.

TUCKER: We’re in Moscow tonight. We’re here to interview the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.

JON: Saints be praised. For professor Tucker Aloysius Mayflower Kennebunkport Backgammon Carlson III has arrived. Professor, tell me, what is step one in delivering world-class fealty to power?

TUCKER: Here’s what we’re doing it, first, because it’s our job. We’re in journalism.

JON: Lie about what your job is.

TUCKER: In journalism, our duty is to inform people.

JON: Lie about what your duty is.

TUCKER: Americans have a right to know all they can about a war they’re implicated in. Freedom of speech is our birthright. We were born with the right to say what we believe.

JON: Oh, shit. Kudos, sensei. That was deep. I have much to learn. Disguise your deception and capitulation to power as noble and moral and based in freedom. Yes, master. Just out of curiosity, as a student, when you’re sitting there interviewing Putin and you don’t plan to challenge his utter bullshit, but you don’t want to really be that obvious, what do you do with your face? Oh, I see. OK, so it’s not really a straight face as much as you try to convey a mixture of what appears to be shame, arousal, and I’m going to say irregularity. For instance, like you’re constipated while jerking off to a Sears catalog. Been there, haven’t you? A guy up there is like, “well, the lingerie ads were mm.” Now, obviously, Tucker’s strategy is going to work when there’s some ambiguity in what Putin says. But what if Putin starts saying shit like World War II was Poland’s fault because they forced Hitler to invade them. I mean, what do you do with something like that? That’s got to be hard.

PUTIN: After World War I, this territory was transferred to Poland and instead of Danzig, a city of Gdansk emerged. Hitler asked them to give it amicably but they refused.

TUCKER: Of course.


JON: Of course, you know, that’s so hard to do when your face says “what the what the f*ck?” and your mouth says, “of course.” It’s so hard to– how do you– all right. How do you do that? By the way, Poland started World War II, why would a country whose navy has submarines with screen doors want to instigate a war? Quick history lesson. Years ago, for reasons nobody is really sure of, a stereotype emerged that Polish people were inept in various ways, including, obviously, submarine manufacturing and even something as simple as the changing of a light bulb. I don’t know actually how many Polish people you think it takes to change a light bulb, but it’s certainly less than the conventional wisdom at that time would tell you. Now, we know that Polish people are as smart as anyone and certainly did not deserve to be invaded by the Germans, who, of course, accomplished that by marching in backwards so the Poles thought they were leaving. Well, (ACCENTED SPEECH) I like to give you a little bit of dumb. (SPEAKING NORMALLY) Well, this has been an incredible primer into the delicate dance of speaking “of course” to power. Tell me, Tucker, does this masterclass include field trips?

TUCKER: How does Russia have a subway station that normal people use to get to work and home every single day that’s nicer than anything in our country? There’s no graffiti. There’s no filth. There’s no foul smells.

JON: That’s a f*cking nice subway. That’s a very– although, to be fair to the New York City system, it was constructed in 1904 out of urinal cakes by the great engineer Giuseppe Pissa Everywhere. But point taken, it’s a very nice subway. But the subway, that’s only one thing.

TUCKER: So we thought it would be interesting to take a look at a contemporary modern-day 2024 Russian grocery store.

JON: Ooh, go on.

TUCKER: All right, here we go. So I guess you put in 10 rubles here and you get it back when you put the cart back. So it’s free, but there’s an incentive to return it and not just bring it to your homeless encampment.

JON: I know I’ve said this before, you’re such a dick. Now, I do realize– really, truly, a dick. I didn’t realize America’s homeless problem is caused entirely by easy access to grocery carts. Oh, I had all my stuff in my house, but I didn’t know you could put it on wheels. It’s so much easier.

TUCKER: This is the grocery cart escalator. This is designed– I’m figuring this out now– where the wheels don’t move. They lock on the grocery cart escalator. Look, Ma, no hands.

JON: Oh, oh, OK, OK, Forrest. An escalator for the grocery cart and the doors open automatically. Oh, mother Russia.

TUCKER: Russia is famous for its bread, which is one thing I can assess pretty well. Look at that. It’s fresh too. Look at that. Oh. Come on. Mm.


JON: This f*cking guy really likes bread. I hate to think what would have happened if he had found a bagel.


JON: But, hey, if being a free speech warrior means you have to bang the occasional sourdough, “na zdorovie.” But our time is limited. Could you drive home the purpose of your deception on this trip in the most cynical way possible, please?

TUCKER: We didn’t pay any attention to costs. We were just putting in the cart where we would actually eat over a week. And we all came in around 400 bucks, about 400 bucks. It was $104 US here. And coming to a Russian grocery store, the heart of evil, and seeing what things cost and how people live, it will radicalize you against our leaders. That’s how I feel anyway, radicalized.

JON: Radicalized. And it will radicalize you unless you understand basic economics. See, $104 for groceries sounds like a great bargain, unless you realize Russians earn less than $200 a week. But that’s the kind of context that a– what did you call yourself earlier– a journalist would have provided. But here’s the reality. You f*cking know all this. Because you aren’t as dumb as your face would have us believe. Perhaps if your handlers had allowed, you would have seen there is a hidden fee to your cheap groceries and orderly streets. Ask Alexey Navalny or any of his supporters.

REPORTER: In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, political repression is everywhere.


REPORTER: And hundreds have been arrested for daring to honor Navalny so publicly.

JON: Right, because the difference between our urinal-caked chaotic subways and your candelabra’d beautiful subways is the literal price of freedom. But the goal that Carlson and his ilk are pushing is that there is really no difference between our systems. In fact, theirs might be a little bit better. The question is why, why is Tucker doing this? Here’s why. It’s because the old civilizational battle was communism versus capitalism, that what drove the world since World War II. Russia was the enemy then. But now they think the battle is woke versus unwoke. And in that fight, Putin is an ally to the right. He’s their friend. Unfortunately, he is also a brutal and ruthless dictator. So now they have to make Americans a little more comfortable with that. I mean, liberty is nice, but have you seen Russia’s shopping carts? And Tucker would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling assassins.

REPORTER: In a statement to the New York Times, Carlson said, quote, “It is horrifying what happened to Navalny. The whole thing is barbaric and awful. No decent person would defend it.”

JON: Correct, no decent person would. For more on– oh, please, enjoy your claps. For more on Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin, we turn to our own Michael Kosta. Michael, how– Michael, first of all, what an unbelievably embarrassing display of sycophancy from Tucker Carlson.

MICHAEL: Yeah, well, I’m not sure what that means, Jon, so I’m going to assume you loved it as much as I did. It made me think that these dictatorships have gotten a bad rap, which is why I’ve traveled here, to North Korea. And as you can see, it’s amazing.

JON: It looks like you’re in a candy store.

MICHAEL: Well, I am, but this is what the entire country looks like, I’m told. It’s a paradise of chocolate bars and sugar canes. I mean, Jon, check this out. This bucket of gummy worms here in Pyongyang, it costs a nickel. Do you have any idea how much this would cost me in the so-called United States?

JON: I don’t know, like $20, I guess?

MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, and who can afford that besides capitalistic American pedophiles, OK? And just look at the technology they have here, Jon. Check out this amazing contraption. You put, OK, you put a quarter. And look what comes out, a gumball. [sniff] Oh, death to America. Jon?

JON: You need to come home Michael.

MICHAEL: Well, I’d like to, Jon, but, unfortunately, I renounced my citizenship in exchange for these gummy worms. Now, look, they made them sour on the outside. And on the inside, they’re sweet. And until America comes up with that, all right, how do we say goodbye in our language?

JON: Michael Kosta, everybody. Michael.


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