Jon Stewart Kicks Some ASME, Part II: Show No Mercy

Jim, why is your magazine so gay.jpg

And we’re back! Round Two of our write-up, but last night the hits just kept on coming. By this point we’d all started feeling a big sorry for our hapless panelists. It was nothing compared to how excruciating it would get. I wonder when they realized they were brave.

We left off with Jon Stewart turning to Jim Kelly. He licks his chops. “Time magazine has been a tradition in America, yet…what’s happened?” (I-can’t-believe-he-just-said-that laughter). “One federal prosecutor says ‘let me see your notes’ and immediately everyone pulls their underwear over their heads and hands it over.” A pause. “Not only that…Newsweek breaks the story.” Oooh, snap! “Jim,” he intones, solemnly, “what the fuck?” Graydon Carter is shaking with laughter. His turn next. But Jon wants to know; this, he Jim Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly Kelly K-E-L-L-Y.jpgsays, “is a huge issue.” Meanwhile, in the outside world, news is breaking that Judith Miller has been released from jail. Jim plays the Blame Game, immediately invoking corporate parent Time Inc. and how “Norm Pearlstine in his corporate role decided” to release the notes only “after fighting it out in the Supreme Court.” Don’t looky here, mister. You think I like having to defend this stuff? “Needless to say, we wish that we didn’t have any emails to turn over.” Jon waves it aside for the next pressing question. “Let me ask you this: why is your magazine so gay?” Nice. The crowd loves this! I do too. Jon is so damn quick, and he has this effortlessly under his control. The guy is a pro.

Jon opens it up to the other three: “As editors, have any of you ever been in a situation where you’ve thought, ‘There is peril in what we’re doing?'” (To Jim) “You guys are getting inside information from the government all the time…” (to others) “Do you ever find yourselves in a similar siuation?” Laughter. This is the thing about people who do things effortlessly: they make it look easy. David Zinczenko, don’t fall into the trap! For the love of God, no! His mouth opens. Sigh. “It happens to me all the time. Right now the government is on my ass to try and find out the Deep Throat of the Bench Press.” My tape reflects a short burst of laughter; my notes say “Oy. I’m uncomfortable.” DZ: “And I’m holding out! I am not telling them what’s going on.” Jon spares him any follow-up. Kate White jumps in: For her, it’s tough “when we’re going for 101 sex tips and we only have a hundred.” God, the pressure to whip off one-liners! It’s tough stuff. Right now as I sit here adding my two cents, I have the luxury of the delete button; not so when you’re on the spot (and let it be known that I haven’t gotten to the most excruciating part of the tape yet: where I speak). Jon’s plucky, he picks it up by saying that yes, your mags are all very different but we’re trying to find the common thread “which is, of course, humor.”

On to Graydon. “You guys break Deep Throat. Mark Felt. Did you feel there was peril in that?” “You know, it’s a very strange time for journalists, if you make a mistake it can be a career-ender, and a jon and kate.jpglifetime’s reputation can get tossed in the ashcan — you all saw what happened to Dan Rather.” says Graydon. He goes on to remind the room that he published the Mark-Felt-is-Deep-Throat article without fact-checking it with the two people who actually knew (brass balls, people!). That was scary, he said. He was on a flight back to New York from his honeymoon (yay Graydon and Anna! Long live love!) and apparently the pilot came on and announced it. Jon turns to Kate. “Kate. What should Graydon’s wife have done on their honeymoon?” Hilarious. The crowd loves this. It seems like Kate does too. Kate: “I can make a few suggestions from the Love Lab.” Jon goggles a bit; there really is a Love Lab? Kate: “Of course — everything is fact-checked.” (Kate! Are you hiring?) Jon can’t believe it. “Everything is fact-checked? Your saucy tips are fact-checked? When you write about greeting your husband in Saran Wrap, it’s fact-checked?” Kate confirms, but chides Jon gently: “Saran is dead.” Jon looks at Zinczenco. “What about for dudes?” Hee. Zinczenko opens his mouth. Never a good sign. “I can answer her question,” he says confidently. Is there a word for “swagger” to describe speaking? “Graydon should have gone on his honeymoon and he should have had plenty of orgasms — multiple, multiple orgams. So many orgasms that Stephen Hawking couldn’t count them. That’s what Graydon should have done, according to Cosmo.” I wish I could go back in time and save us all from ever having heard that sentence. In the margin of my notebook I have written “DZ stop.” “Stop” is underlined three times.

Jon: “Let’s get back to humour.” Snap again!

Actually, though, Jon turns to Jim and addresses an ‘issue’: “With the speed of news today, how does Time stay relevant?” Jim reminds Jon that Time has a website. Jon shakes his head. “I’m not asking you how you get people to subscribe,” he says. God, he is so quick. Jim reminds Jon that Time broke the news of Michael Brown‘s resume-fluffing but concedes that, yes, as a weekly Time is somewhat constrained by, well, time. Jon wants to know how many times Jim needs to get burned by an anonymous source before they’re cut off. “Let’s say that the white house has — let’s say, ‘operatives’ — and their job is to call magazines and say…untrue things. And you have had that practice repeatedly done to you. At what point do you stop talking to them? Or is that not an option?” Well, says Jim, when the information comes in, they verify it! Says Jon: “When will that start?” Laughter. (NB Jon is teasing Jim Kelly here for the sins of the brethren; it wasn’t Time that got burned by an unreliable single anonymous source earlier this year. But, it was Time that turned its notes over to the Grand Jury).

“David,” says Jon, “why are the men in your magazine on the cover always showered?” If you are familiar with Jon’s delivery, you know that he uses pauses and vocal intonation flawlessly to tease the most out of the joke, ending not on an interrogatory note but on a more declarative, authoritative one. “If they knew they were going to be on the cover, they could have showered before the photo shoot.” DZ responds: “We haven’t really had shots of guys who are showering on the cover of the magazine; we are showing guys, however, in their ideal state.” Jon’s not buying, really. There is some mockery, garbled by tape and laughter.

Jon switches focus. “Covers. Let’s talk covers.” He swivels to Graydon. A beat. “What were you guys thinking?” Graydon quips: “A cry for help?” Jon: “That was ironic, right?” (We are speaking, of course, of Paris Hilton on the October VF cover). Jon wants to know if having Paris on the cover makes a difference in sales. “Not particularly,” says Graydon. Suddenly from the back of the room “Bullshit!” Woo, feisty crowd! Guess someone’s banking on Paris in riding chaps. Graydon still wants to address this seriously, saying that the magazine is meant to reflect the culture around it — “we try to slice off our own piece of the culture.” AsDZ, stop.jpg for Paris, Graydon says that he’s been watching her for the past four or five years, and — “Yes, I’ve been watching her too,” leers Jon. Graydon continues: “People are fascinated by her…she has an ‘X’ factor. I don’t know what her talents are…” Jon smirks. The crowd laughs. He turns. “Kate, would you like to tell Graydon what her talents are?” Hee. So, then, says Jon, it’s about putting a fascinating figure on the cover? Nah, says Graydon, there’s a limit to how much impact a cover can have. Huh? Two words for you Graydon: Jude Law. (NB I can’t *quite* make this out so I could be misrepresenting his point. But still, he seems to be saying that his magazine will appeal despite the cover. This will actually come up soon.) Graydon admits that his children thought the Paris cover sucked. How old are they? asks Jon. Between 12 and 21. “So the audience that is ostensibly hers…” Graydon cuts in. “Well, I don’t look at an audience, I never look at demographic charts.” I’m sure Si’s glad to hear that. Besides, says Graydon, she looks better and “more presentable” than she’s looked elsewhere. RIDING CHAPS, Graydon. Give it up. Jon takes another approach: “Let me ask you this,” he says, I think to Jim Kelly. “When will Time Magazine find Jesus?”

I’ll tell you when, in the next post! Sorry, but this takes a while. Come back soon.

NEXT: Kate White thinks women in their 20s and 30s have short attention spans; size matters (where circulation is concerned); and your faithful blogger blurts out a mangled question to Jon Stewart, thus totally losing the right to keep making fun of David Zinczenko. Don’t miss it!

Next: Jon Stewart Kicks Some ASME III: “And by the way, I don’t read magazines” [FishbowlNY]

Earlier: Jon Stewart Kicks Some ASME, Part I [FishbowlNY]