Jon Stewart, who has attracted praise and brickbats for his missives for his years hosting Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” drew a whole new kind of reaction Wednesday.
After Stewart mocked Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for the arrest of satirist Bassem Youssef, the country’s ruling party retaliated by linking to a video suggesting Jews controlled the American media.
In a fast paced series of developments, Stewart’s action quickly crossed from comedic diplomacy into real diplomacy.
By Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. State Department was talking about what happened at its daily briefing about international issues.
The developments started when the U.S. embassy in Cairo tweeted a link to a video of Stewart on “The Daily Show’s” April 1 telecast ripping Morsi for taking after Yousef. Yousef has appeared on “The Daily Show” and is a friend of Stewart’s.
One part of Stewart’s attack featured videotaped comments of what Morsi said about allowing criticism immediately after being elected with what has been happening in Egypt since. In another, Stewart suggested that Morsi was doing exactly what he criticized former Egyptian Hosni Mubarak for doing. Stewart also suggested that Morsi shouldn’t be worried and cited his own lack of success in changing America’s government.
The U.S. embassy’s tweet drew a quick complaint from Egypt’s office of the president. The complaint suggested the tweet was inappropriate for an embassy and “negative political propaganda.”
That apparently prompted the embassy to temporarily take down its Twitter feed, only to restore it later.
Then the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which sponsors Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party, used its Twitter account to post a link to a 2010 al-Jazeera report about a fight between Stewart and former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and a radio interview in which Sanchez said Jews control the American media.
Finally State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland spent the first few minutes of her press briefing Wednesday answering questions both about the Tweet and the Cairo embassy’s temporary removal of it.
Nuland said that the Embassy “came to the conclusion that the decision to tweet it in the first place didn’t accord with post management of the site.” She said Washington suggested all agencies need a Twitter feed, but she declined comment on the agency’s decision to make “public content” available in its feed.
“We’ve had some glitches with the way the Twitter feed has been managed,” she said. “This is regrettably not the first time. We are now — or I should say Embassy Cairo is now working to remedy those glitches and they’re looking at how they manage the site.”
A Comedy Central spokesman declined comment on the events.