On October 15, 2004, the CNN program “Crossfire” altered its standard procedure of featuring two guests from different perspectives to have just one guest: Jon Stewart. The hosts welcomed him and encouraged him to promote his bestselling book “America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction.”
He immediately tore into the hosts for the way their show encouraged conflict. He complained that politicians can’t speak more freely because it’s impossible to survive a media environment where shows with titles like “Crossfire” or “Hardball” or “I’m Going To Kick Your Ass” will come after them. He said Crossfire in particular was “bad” and “hurting America.” “Stop. Stop hurting America” he said.
He called the hosts hacks and dismissed the idea that he was sucking up to John Kerry when he asked him questions such as “How are you holding up?” and “Are these attacks fair to you?”
Crossfire was canceled soon thereafter. Most people credit Stewart for not just killing the show, but bringing forth a new age of hyper-political, hyper-liberal late-night comedy. The news scene hasn’t changed altogether much since Stewart’s temper tantrum — except for featuring far less argument-sharpening debate and civil discourse than we had under “Crossfire” when Stewart went on his tear.