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On Tuesday, Jon Stewart welcomed former Christian Coalition wunderkind and Jack Abramoff scandal figure Ralph Reed to the Daily Show to pitch his new book, Dark Horse.  But while the two discussed Reed's joining Scooter Libby, Bill O'Reilly and Lynne Cheney among the ranks of racy right-wing novelists, Stewart gave the disgraced lobbyist and failed Georgia Republican pol a free ride when it came to Reed's own close association with Abramoff.

Ironically, Reed's Daily Show appearance came just one day after Henry Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released its report on Jack Abramoff's ties to the Bush White House.  Despite the administration's ongoing efforts to conceal Abramoff's hundreds of visits to the White House, the report found the convicted GOP uber-influence peddler had met President Bush six times.  But while Jon Stewart briefly jabbed at Reed about Republican corruption, Reed's own prominent role in the Abramoff cash machine never came up.

Reed, after all was a central figure in the Abramoff scandals that helped undo the Republican Party in 2006 (as well as his own bid to become Georgia's lieutenant governor). Like Abramoff, Reed feasted on native American tribes to the tune of a million dollars for casino lobbying. He famously joined Abramoff, Ohio Congressman Bob Ney and Bush procurement official David Safavian on the notorious golfing trip to Scotland. (Abramoff, Ney and Safavian were all later convicted for their crimes.) In 2004, Reed received $4.2 million to mobilize Christian voters to fight new casinos opposed by Abramoff's tribal clients.

As it turns out, Jack Abramoff even provided the future fiction writer Reed with enough material for trilogy.

In October 2005, Time published excerpts from Reed's email correspondence with Abramoff. The emails provide a treasure trove for the would-be novelist, including how to tap highly-placed officials like Karl Rove and Haley Barbour for greasing the skids for dirty deals and how to dupe tribes of both sides of the casino conflict in Mississippi and Louisiana.  In one message just after 9/11, Reed tells Abramoff he "put in a tag call to Karl to find out the best contact at FEMA" for a scheme to house Ground Zero rescue workers on leased cruise ships.  (There are even some potshots at the future Republican presidential nominee, John McCain.)  Another Abramoff exchange highlighted Reed's essential role in providing access to the Bush White House:

"I'll get in touch with Rove through Ralph Reed."

Even before his dealings with Abramoff, Reed was already describing his work as a groundbreaking Republican operative along the lines of a Tom Clancy plot. As he told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot in 1991:

"I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag. You don't know until election night."

In early 2006, Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member and now former Reed backer offered the perfect "fall from grace" story line.   Foreshadowing Reed's election day defeat that year, Dacosta announced:

"After reading the e-mail, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God. We are righteously casting him out."

Sadly, Jon Stewart gave Ralph Reed a pass on Tuesday, just as he did in March with Reed's partner in Abramoff's crimes, Grover Norquist.  Ironically, in April 2006 Stewart lambasted John McCain for his embrace of the religious right he once denounced, scolding McCain about going to "crazy base world."  As for Fox News contributor and new author Ralph Reed, who left crazy base world to cash in with his friends in the Bush White House, Jon Stewart let him off the hook.

** Crossposted at Perrspectives **

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:25 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  While I love it when Jon goes after a guest (17+ / 0-)

    it's not his job nor is it something we should expect from him.

    He's a satirist and a comedian, anything above that is a bonus.  

    Absolute Horror: The Best in Bad Horror Movies

    by dansac on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:26:28 AM PDT

    •  True. But Recall Stewart's Demolition of... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dlh77489, wil5013

      Chris Matthews, Bill Kristol and Scott McClellan, just to name a few.

      I think after his admittedly weak interview with Rick Santorum during his book pitch, Jon Stewart hads generally been harder on guests looking for a free ride to pitch books.

      •  yeah (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        But usually when he hits them it's related to the book that they're trying to promote - for example hitting McClellan for not speaking out earlier about the things he wrote about, and basically demolishing Matthews' entire book premise.

        I haven't read Reed's book (and never will) but the interview last night seemed to hew pretty close to the premise of the book, so bringing up Abramoff probably wouldn't have been relevant.

        I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

        by Ickey shuffle on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:44:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As Stewart himself says... (6+ / 0-)

    ...he is NOT a journalist and it isn't his job to be one.  He is there to entertain, and as such frequently lays off the heavy artillery when his guests are right-wingers.

    I will vote for whoever or whatever the Democrats nominate -- animal, vegetable or mineral.

    by Finck II on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:27:30 AM PDT

    •  Very True, But Compare Last Night... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PrgrsvArchitect, RickMassimo Stewart's handling of Scott McClellan.  Stewart was one of the few who challenged McClellan on his own dissembling and disingenuousness during his time in the Bush administration.

      •  That still falls short of what you are suggesting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pager, Namtrix

        In essence, you are asking Jon to say "tell us about your corrupt ties to Jack Ambramoff."  Stewart just doesn't go after his guests like that -- look at how gentle he was with certifiable nut job and bigot Tony Perkins.

        I will vote for whoever or whatever the Democrats nominate -- animal, vegetable or mineral.

        by Finck II on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:33:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And he has 8 minutes to do so. (0+ / 0-)

          Let's get real--nobody is going to be able to connect all the corrupt dots on these fucker in 8 minutes. This isn't the format for it. I think the diarist has Stewart confused with 60 Minutes.

          Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. Edward R. Murrow

          by Pager on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:35:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Doug Feith? (0+ / 0-)

          Did anyone see Stewart's interview with Doug Feith?

          Feith came on to push propaganda and Stewart took him to task.

          •  The difference. (0+ / 0-)

            Ralph Reed wasn't trying to push any progaganda last night.  He was there pushing his novel.

            If Reed had strayed into anything controversial, I'm sure Stewart would have taken him to task.  But last night, it wasn't really necessary.  In fact, it'd probably be a bit inappropriate.

            Prediction: Obama/Sebelius vs. McCain/Pawlenty.

            by Namtrix on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:41:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, Stewart hits guests for propaganda... (0+ / 0-)

            ...but not for personal corruption or bigotry, though he has frequently had corrupt and/or bigoted guests.  He'll go after you for BS because that is a major theme of his "fake news" show.

            I will vote for whoever or whatever the Democrats nominate -- animal, vegetable or mineral.

            by Finck II on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:43:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  We certainly have high expectations... (12+ / 0-)

    ... for a comedian.

    Why aren't we asking actual media outlets to report the story?

    "Time to go home to my mansion and eat my lobster." --- Frank Grimes

    by droogie6655321 on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:28:20 AM PDT

  •  Uh, the Daily Show. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dlh77489, smash artist

    In case you weren't aware, it's a comedy show.

    Prediction: Obama/Sebelius vs. McCain/Pawlenty.

    by Namtrix on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:29:43 AM PDT

  •  Why are all these wingnuts on the show? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think there is a publisher or publicist who insists he host these assholes or they don't get other guests.

    That is how things work.

    Example: the only reason Tom Cruise is having problems is because he fired his real puiblicist and hired his sister. Publicists can keep crap out of the press with threats of access.

    Why else is Jon having to have total dicks like Reed on his show?

    •  The run of right wing nuts (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      seemed to start when they came back during the strike.  No self respecting Democrat would cross the picket line.  Unfortunately, it has continued.  I love when John calls them on their crap, but sometimes, like last night, he lets it slide.  Afterall, as it has been said above, it is a comedy show

      •  I thought Reed looked pretty dumb last night. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Jon wasn't going after him hard, but he still managed to make the guy look like someone who twists words and phrases to mean something other than what everyone knows they really mean.

        It's not necessary for a guest to end up covered in blood and guts.  A sly skewering works just as well.

        Ask me about my sig line.

        by LeanneB on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 11:40:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I thought he was pretty rough on him. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He essentially called him to task for the entire failure of the Republican Party.

    He didn't get into Abramoff, but from a personal standpoint, I would rather Stewart use right-wing guests to demolish other right-wing figures, rather than the guests themselves. I think he did that quite ably.

  •  Is there a contract that is signed (0+ / 0-)

    when people appear on these shows?  One that possibly outlines what can and can not be discussed?  Not being in "show business", I have no idea....

  •  Stewart is in decline (3+ / 0-)

    Not necessarily a propos for this interview, but I haven't found Stewart funny since the writer's strike. He has lost a step. Or maybe it's just that Colbert has such a wicked, scathing wit and he's so light on his feet that he makes Stewart pale in comparison. Whatever it is, I rarely bother to watch The Daily Show any more. I just wait for Colbert.

  •  Dark Horse published by Howard Books... (0+ / 0-)

    Simon & Schuster's religious Christian brand. How does this political thriller fit into their stable of authors?

  •  Once again (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Stewart is a comedian, not a journalist.  It's just a sad commentary on the state of journalism that he's more of a journalist than most that claim the title.

    Your political compass Economic Left/Right: -6.50 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.67

    by bythesea on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 11:25:39 AM PDT

  •  Yes he's a comedian- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, joe shikspack

    but it's times like these, or when he had Peggy Noonan on and acted as if she were just another pal, as if she were normal!-- that I am reminded of John Cusack's comment from 2005  

    And therefore when Republicans, who were the ones who led us into this war, and the ones whom he's so rightly skewering every night, sit across the table from him -- there is some kind of unspoken message being given that they are not part of the problem, that they can wink and laugh with Jon and the things he is making fun of. That they are not them, when in fact, they are...      
And they are getting a free pass to sit next to someone who speaks truth to power. They get reflected hipness just by sitting across the table from him, and the irony is that they share a laugh over the same things that he rails against.

    •  These people should be shunned and mocked (0+ / 0-)

      to their faces, not allowed a space on tv that gives them some shred of face time and hipness. Can't really watch it when these people are on, in fact I haven't watched TDS for months...
       Stewart seems to be going for Letterman's job or Leno's, not the left's  flaming bag o' poop thrower.

      McMeatwad (R) for pResident.

      by KenBee on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 11:57:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh well. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Maybe he didn't see a way to gracefully do "more" than he did.

    But if you haven't seen this diary
    McCain, Abramoff & the GOP need a Research Posse...  by dengre, please do.

    He needs help putting the pieces together - something REAL that can make a difference in this matter, and from your knowledge, you look like you'd be a real asset in this effort!

    As an aside, I suspect there's a connection between Reed, Abramoff, GA (D!) SoS Cathy Cox and Diebold, and Gov. (R) Sonny Purdue winning the 2002 race (first R gov. in over 130 years).  It's weird; there was a flap over the flag, and PurdueCo played like he was elected over THAT, but then he certainly didn't BEHAVE as though he owed anything to those who supposedly "put him in" over the issue - in fact, he insulted them.  This further leads me to believe he KNEW he wasn't elected by "scads of people mad over the flag"; then a Diebold technician comes out and essentially says it was rigged... Hm.

  •  Stewart is quirky (0+ / 0-)

    ...if nothing else. I've noticed many times before how he'll POUNCE on one guest and softball others into Happy-warm-fuzzy-puppy-ville. There doesn't seem to be any real overall rhyme or reason to the difference. I suppose the person here who commented on the futility of expecting a comedian to act like a journalist might have it right. Last night's show was way over into Silly as opposed to Satirical, in fact. ("Git-Mo" the muppet???)

    If only we had someone besides Stewart to play the role of a real journalist...

    •  agree with you (0+ / 0-)

      I get mad at Stewart when he's too nice to wing-nuts and Reed is a bona fide right wing wacko. I though Jon was way too cordial, giving him a forum to sell "his" book (did the guy have a ghost writer?) and give out election analyses like he's a grande olde pundite and has no responsibilty for the mess our country's  in.  Plus I can't stand Reed's choir boy face that overlays a real social menace. He thought he could buy an election with that face, Abramoff's dirty money, & pandering to religious wing-nuts.

      I think Colbert is more even-handed and slyly insults everyone who deserves it regardless of their affiliations.  I don't get tired of his performance because he's always changing it up. It is pure genius.

  •  No, it's not Stewart's job, but... (0+ / 0-)

    ...he's taken on that responsibility.  It was frustrating to watch him treat Reed with kid gloves.  I was surprised they would even invite a corrupt pig like Reed on in the first place.

    "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs, who, however, has never learned to walk forward." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    by bayman on Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 03:21:59 PM PDT

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