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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jon Stewart's advice to Cruz: 'Start smoking'

Jon Stewart has some advice for President Obama: “Stop smoking.” The “Daily Show” host gave his presidential recommendation to The New York Times at a Sunday night screening of “Rosewater” at the Newseum in downtown Washington.

While Obama has said in the past that he kicked the habit years ago — he quipped last year, “I haven’t had a cigarette in six years ... that’s because I’m scared of my wife" — Stewart had a different suggestion for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), telling the newspaper the lawmaker should “start smoking Marlboro cigarettes online.”

Beyond doling out vice advice, the 51-year-old comedian offered his take on today’s Internet culture, saying it hasn’t turned viewers into “blithering idiots,” as some social critics argue. But journalists, Stewart said, are contributing to “a sense of despair” by creating a false sense of urgency in their reporting.

“I think it’s disingenuous when people say they get the news from us ["The Daily Show"]," Stewart told PBS “NewsHour” host and the screening’s moderator, Gwen Ifill, when asked about the country’s disenchantment with journalists. “It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense, what we do, without a basis [in fact],” Stewart said.

“Everybody has got this nostalgic view of how the country used to work as informed citizens. We’ve been idiots for a very long time. You know, on our hair dryers it says, ‘Don’t use this in bathtub.’ It’s not as though we were a society of nuclear physicists back then,” the first-time director continued.

The traditional thinking is that “with pop music and the Internet, we suddenly turned into blithering idiots,” Stewart said.

“I reject this idea that we are in a new age of incoherence. I think there is more information out there; it just needs to be contextualized.”

The media, Stewart contended, creates “a false urgency and forget to contextualize all of the information that is being processed and therefore contribute to a sense of despair and unnerving nature of what’s happening.”

“Rosewater,” Stewart’s first foray into directing and dramatic screenwriting, based on a memoir by reporter Maziar Bahari about his time in an Iranian prison, opens in theaters Friday.

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