Updated Friday with Stewart’s response.
Anyone wondering if Tucker Carlson is still nursing hurt feelings about the time Jon Stewart absolutely humiliated him on CNN and, almost certainly, led to his being fired by the network months later, you now have an answer. And the answer is, almost certainly.
The proof came Thursday on his Fox News show when Carlson, during a segment ranting about Stewart’s activism on behalf of veterans, started insulting the former “The Daily Show” host’s appearance in hackneyed, ableist and very personal terms.
“That’s Jon Stewart? The famous Jon Stewart? He looks like a homeless mental patient. He’s shrieking and disheveled,” Carlson said, affecting a comedic tone of voice. “And very short. Really short, too short to date. Was he always that short? What happened? Where’s he been the last 7 years? If you know, let us know. We want answers.”
Watch that above or here.
Stewart had a suitably brutal response:
Meanwhile, here’s some background: Tucker Carlson used to be co-host of a pretty terrible CNN show called “Crossfire,” which pioneered the annoying “people shout at each other” format on cable.
In October 2004, Stewart was a guest on the show and used the appearance to criticize the format and the hosts for what he poignantly said was real damage being done to American discourse. “It’s hurting America. Here is what I wanted to tell you guys: Stop. You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably,” Stewart told them.
Instead of listening, Carlson kept needling Stewart, at one point saying “I thought you were going to be funny,” which prompted Stewart to bluntly say, “No, I’m not going to be your monkey.”
Shortly after this, Carlson said, “I do think you’re more fun on your show. Just my opinion.”
Stewart’s response: “You know what’s interesting, though? You’re as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”
That burn didn’t just hurt Carlson’s self-esteem, however, it also hurt the show. That episode aired Oct. 15, 2004. In January 2005, CNN’s then-CEO Jonathan Klein announced that “Crossfire” would be canceled later that year; at the same time, he announced that Carlson’s contract was not renewed.
Carlson claims that he chose to leave CNN, then No. 2 in cable news ratings, for fourth-ranked MSNBC. But Klein consistently maintains that the choice was CNN’s. He also said, in announcing both the cancellation and the decision to let go of Carlson, that he basically agreed with Stewart. You do the math.
You can watch the thing that apparently still sets Carlson off below: