"Are you trying to make this OJ?": Jon Stewart warns media's Trump trial coverage could backfire

Daily Show host blasts media for treating the "most mundane bulls**t" as "Earth-shattering"

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 23, 2024 11:23AM (EDT)

Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" (Matt Wilson/Comedy Central)
Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" (Matt Wilson/Comedy Central)

Comedian Jon Stewart on Monday launched into a fiery rant aimed at the media coverage of former President Donald Trump's hush money trial in the latest episode of "The Daily Show."

Stewart spent a portion of Monday's segment lambasting media outlets for their coverage of Trump's criminal trial unfolding in Manhattan, in which prosecutors have alleged that he falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

“This trial will obviously be a test of the fairness of the American legal system, but it’s also a test of the media’s ability to cover Donald Trump in a responsible way. A task they have acknowledged they’ve performed poorly in the past,” Stewart said before showing a montage of clips from notable outlets like CNN and MSNBC acknowledging that they need to give less obsessive attention to the former president's every antic. 

“So brave. Well done,” Stewart said sardonically. “I think, for this trial, we will see the seeds of that introspection bear fruit. Or, we will learn that learning curves are for pussies." He then immediately entered another clip of top networks referring to the case as "the trial of the century" and making claims that the "legal walls are starting to close in" on Trump. 

“Perhaps, if we limit the coverage to the issues at hand, and try not to create an all-encompassing spectacle of the most banal of details, perhaps that would help?” Stewart asked.

The late-night host then played repeated footage of the former president's motorcade ferrying to and from the courthouse each day. “Seriously, are we going to follow this guy to court every f***ing day? Are you trying to make this OJ? It’s not a chase. He’s commuting,” Stewart said.

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Stewart then honed in on a moment wherein CNN's Jake Tapper attempted to analyze a courtroom sketch of Trump, saying, "Why are you showing it to us? It’s a sketch. Why would anyone analyze a sketch? It’d be like looking at The Last Supper and going, ‘Why do you think Jesus looks so sad here?'” This jab was coupled with other clips Stewart pulled where journalists present at the trial reported on Trump's every physical movement.

"The Daily Show" host concluded by arguing that incessant media reporting on the trial will ultimately detract from its more important revelations and takeaways. 

“At some point in this trial, something important and revelatory is going to happen. But none of us are going to notice because the hour spent on his speculative, facial tics,” Stewart said. “If the media tries to make us feel like the most mundane bulls**t is Earth shattering, we won’t believe you when it’s really interesting. It’s your classic boy-who-cried-Wolf Blitzer.”

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“We got a long ways to go here," he continued. "It’s the first day of the first of [Trump’s] 438 trials to come. Pace yourselves. And if [the media is] bored, you can always start planning how you’re going to be covering his next trial and the sober mea culpas you’ll deliver during his next term as president.” 

"The Daily Show" airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central and streams on Paramount+

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Cnn Courtroom Sketch Hush Money Jon Stewart Msnbc Stormy Daniels The Daily Show Trump Trial