Foner, Beschloss, Marable & Terkel: Appear on the Jon Stewart Show

Historians in the News

Over the last two months four historians have appeared in segments on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, the popular cable network. A few months ago it was Michael Beschloss. This week it was Columbia University's Eric Foner and Manning Marable, and journalist and oral historian Studs Terkel.

All of the historians came off well on the show, one of the most popular on TV among young people, playing along with the producers' gags.

Beschloss and Terkel were given the opportunity to appear on the set of Stewart's fake news show for one-on-one interviews. Beschloss was quizzed about President Bush and Iraq. He told a history joke no one seemed to get but otherwise came off well. He and Stewart both took jabs at President Bush. Terkel was treated like a rock star. Stewart practically genuflected. At the end of the interview as time ran out Terkel protested that he hadn't yet had a chance to bash Bush. Stewart laughed hysterically. The audience cheered.

Foner and Marable were interviewed by comedian Rob Cordrey, who was playing a white racist eager to show how hard life is in America for racists. His first interview was with Marable. But before Cordrey got out even one question he began muttering to himself that no one had told him Marable was black. He began tossing his interview notes on the floor. Marable look on, bemused. He got the joke. (Many of Cordrey's interviewees do not.)

Seconds later Cordrey was in Foner's office. Cordrey began by asking what Foner's ethnic background is. Foner said that he was Eastern European Jewish. Cordrey looked devastated, as if to say his burden in life was having to deal with non-WASPs. They then talked about Hitler. Foner made the point that Hitler inadvertently helped trigger the civil rights movement in the United States. Cordrey then asked why there were no streets named after Hitler in Harlem. Foner simply smiled.

Other recent guests on the show have included Sen. John McCain, Fareed Zackaria, and Gen. Zinni.

Getting a few seconds of air time on the show is now the great goal of PR people in NYC because of the audience demographics. Media people watch it religiously.

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More Comments:

Jason KEuter - 4/14/2006

And, moreover, it provides intellectuals with what they secretly crave : NOTORIETY! FAME! COOLNESS!
I high-five Foner.

S J - 4/13/2006

Wow. Thank goodness that we have a few people among us that don't take themselves seriously ALL of the time. Kudos to the historians who are willing to have a little fun from time to time.