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Left Hooks and Right Jabs: Stewart Tangles With Carlson

By Lisa de Moraes
Saturday, October 16, 2004; Page C07

Jon Stewart and Tucker Carlson got into a brawl yesterday when the faux newsman began to lecture CNN's Richie Rich about journalism on the cable news network's "Crossfire."

Stewart, who set the tone by asking Carlson why he and Paul Begala argue so much on the show, noted that he made a "special effort" to come on the daily program, in which hosts representing the political left and right scream at each other. Stewart said he made this special effort because he has said so publicly, so often that "Crossfire" is very, very bad.

Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, left, and CNN's Tucker Carlson, getting cross with each other on "Crossfire," which Carlson hosts with Paul Begala.

"I felt that wasn't fair, and I should come here and tell you that it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America," Stewart told Carlson and Begala. "So I wanted to come here today and say . . . stop. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.

"You're helping the politicians and the corporations."

"By beating up on them?" Begala asked, one of the few times he got involved in yesterday's melee. "You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes."

"No, you're not too tough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan -- what you call it? -- hacks!" Stewart snapped.

But Carlson had a trick or two up his sleeve, noting that on "Crossfire" they ask politicians "pointed questions."

"I want to contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry recently."

At that moment, up on the screen popped some of the questions Stewart had asked the candidate when he appeared on "The Daily Show," Stewart's Comedy Central late-night program.

"If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to," Stewart sneered.

"No, no, no, here's the point," Tucker said, going into that super-intense, piercing-stare, squeaky-voiced, quivering-bow-tie thing he does when he really gets going.

"If that's your goal," Stewart added, really enjoying himself now. "I wouldn't aim for us. I'd aim for 'Seinfeld.' That was a very good show."

"Kerry won't come on this show. He will come on your show." Carlson said.

Let me suggest why he wants to come on your show. . . . Here are three of the questions you asked John Kerry. . . . 'How are you holding up?' 'Is it hard not to take the attacks personally?' 'Have you ever flip-flopped?' et cetera, et cetera.

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