JON STEWART IGNITES PROTEST; CAMPAIGN HITS MILLIONS
Catalyst June Issue 2012, Front Page
In all the years of monitoring anti-Christian bigotry, seldom have we seen something as vile as what happened on April 16. On Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” they flashed a picture on the screen of a naked woman with her legs spread and a nativity scene ornament in between. He called it the “vagina manger.” We called it hate speech.
Stewart was angry with the Fox News Network for not being exercised over the alleged “war on women” that is going on. Ironically, in the name of defending women, he degraded them. And he did so by unnecessarily assaulting the sensibilities of Christians; they constitute the vast majority of the population.
We did not call for Stewart to be fired, but we did call for him to apologize. After hand-delivering our request to the offices of Comedy Central (it carries the show), and failing to garner a response, we contacted ten of his major sponsors; they were asked to put pressure on the network seeking an apology.
Delta quickly apologized for Stewart’s obscene stunt. Within days, the airline company went further and pulled its advertising. What upset us the most was the response by Kellogg’s—they blew us off. So we took them on. Bill Donohue did a lengthy interview on the number-one radio show in Battle Creek (home to Kellogg’s). Interestingly, Kellogg’s refused to dispatch a spokesman to explain its dismissive attitude. We also called for a boycott of Kellogg’s cereals, and took out an ad in the Kalamazoo Gazette (click here).
We know we got to Stewart because during a performance in Tampa on April 21, he switched gears—going from comedic to serious—and made an oblique swipe at the Catholic League.
Our campaign against Stewart extended to the board of directors and the senior management of Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central; we mailed them a copy of the offensive photo. Then we sent a copy of it to all the bishops, as well as to religious leaders in every faith community.
We also hit the op-ed page of the New York Times. On May 21, Bill Donohue’s ad, “Jon Stewart’s Legacy,” was published, reaching millions of readers (click here). No one in public life can afford to have his reputation damaged, not even cultural gurus like Stewart.
The avalanche of very sick e-mails we received from Stewart’s fans was disturbing. It indicates that these angry young white men have a misplaced sense of priorities: if Stewart is their hero, it doesn’t bode well for our nation’s future. But we also received a ton of positive responses, suggesting that the culture war is still up for grabs. As always, we were relentless in our campaign.