Rep. Anthony Weiner's bizarre confessional press conference Monday concluded at around 5 p.m.--giving the writers at The Daily Show just an hour and 15 minutes to prepare jokes about it. From the reactions from many media folks, it looks like they largely failed. Rewrites delayed rehearsal by more than half an hour, Yahoo's Dylan Stableford reports, as staffers hurriedly overhauled the show's opening segment. At one point, Jon Stewart, a friend of Weiner's who defended the Democrat last week, explained, "I don't know what to do anymore! It's killing me."
The segment was called "Jon Stewart Unloads on Anthony Weiner's Chest," a reference to one of the more cheesecake pics Weiner emailed to an Internet lady friend. Stewart noted that Andrew Breitbart--who made an unexpected guest appearance at Weiner's Q&A--had "Kanye'd" the presser. After playing a clip of Weiner apologizing, Stewart said, "And there you have it. At 4:25 Eastern Standard Time, this story officially became sad." He continued, "You know we forget sometimes--I certainly do--that these people are human... And that's a lesson that's going to stay with me until I turn back to the camera over there and do a little bit on the John Edwards story."
With Weinergate unfolding as one of the more strange--and relatively long-lasting--political scandals in recent memory, many viewers--particularly those in the media who had spent the whole day obsessing over the story--were hoping for more.
As The Onion AV Club's David Sims noted, the writers faced an impossible deadline: "I don't think Jon Stewart went 'easy' on Weiner so much as he cobbled something together on the fly because the news broke so late," Sims tweeted. But Politico's Josh Gerstein wonders, "Isn't this one where you do a Bill O'Reilly and say, F--- it, we'll do it live"?
Disappointment was widespread along the full line of the media-classiness spectrum. NBC's Daniel Macht and Beth Stebner declared Stewart had spared Weiner "the full Daily Show treatment," while The Superficial tweeted, "Jon Stewart really should have pushed back taping to wait for Weiner press conference to end because that just looked like a HUGE pass."
The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik said it was not Stewart's "finest hour," saying Stewart had "behaved badly" in poking at TV reporters who were just trying to figure the story out. "No, let me be absolutely honest," Zurawik wrote, Stewart "seemed disingenuous in the way after a few light jokes about Weiner's physical appearance, he turned his attention to John Edwards, the only man lower these days than Weiner when it comes to matters of sex and honesty. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel in going after Edwards to divert attention from Weiner and his own failings in analysis the past week."
But there's still hope for some better Weinergate jokes: Stableford reports that Tuesday's Daily Show should have more coverage after the writers have a whole day to craft their punchlines.