Jon Stewart: Host, THE DAILY SHOW
The MPA pays the Daily Show host to skewer its editors,
"Do the men on the cover always have to be–what’s the word–glistening?" Jon Stewart asked Men’s Health editor Dave Zinczenko. "I enjoy health, yet when I read the magazine, I don’t know whether to go to the doctor or rub my nipples."
That was just one of many sharp-witted observations Stewart made about magazines last September at Lincoln Center while presiding over a Magazine Publishers of America panel that included some of the industry’s renowned editors: Zinczenko, Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, Time’s Jim Kelly and Cosmopolitan’s Kate White.
Then the discussion turned to the relevance of magazines in a 24-hour-news culture, one that Stewart mines daily for the Daily Show.
"The way news is driven today is not through print," Stewart said. "I don’t consider print media as relevant," adding that his infamous appearance on CNN’s Crossfire wouldn’t have had the same impact in print. "I wouldn’t have walked into a newspaper or magazine and gotten angry, because they’re not the ones driving the discourse."
In many ways, it was the MPA’s "moment of Zen" for Stewart to rip into some of its most recognizable figures on a night that served as a funny yet strangely poignant wake-up call.
"If more publishers wake up and realize they’re not the only game in town, then that $250,000 was the best money MPA spent all year," says Travis Daub of Washington, D.C.-based Foreign Policy.
"Yes, it was a little bit at the expense of the industry and some of its greatest egos, but it was great publicity," says TimeOut New York president Alison Tocci. "Sometimes I wish the industry would be a little less defensive."
A month later at the MPA’s American Magazine Conference in Puerto Rico, a Wired cover depicting Stewart with a remote in his mouth appeared on a screen behind Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith, who summed up Stewart’s wake: "Actually, we wanted to put that remote somewhere else."
VITAL STATS: A reported six-figure speaker’s fee pays for an unexpected wake-up call.