On June 23, deliciously feminist-y site Jezebel posted an article titled “The Daily Show’s Woman Problem” that accused the Jon Stewart-helmed Comedy Central program of being “a boys' club where women's contributions are often ignored and dismissed.” Backing up the author’s claims were testimonies from former staffers who said that the show’s creative environment marginalized them with its “too cool for school” attitude, which left no room for womanish “emotional vulnerability.” The author then went on to suggest (seemingly based entirely on a bitter quote from a rejected “female comedian who has auditioned multiple times”) that the recent hiring of G4’s Olivia Munn was motivated at least partially by her looks. Even more damning: The article’s repeating of rumors about Jon Stewart, whom one anonymous “former executive” says “runs The Daily Show with joyless rage,” and whose alleged throwing of an unsatisfactory script at show co-creator Madeleine Smithberg (and Stewart’s subsequent refusal to allow her on stage to accept the show’s 2003 Emmy) has supposedly become staff legend. All in all, it paints a fairly damning picture of The Daily Show as a glorified comedy frat house run by dudes who don’t believe a woman can be funny, but are willing to give her a chance anyway if she’s hot.
So far, the only official response from The Daily Show has been a throwaway line from Stewart acknowledging, “Jezebel thinks I’m a sexist prick.” But today the show’s current female staffers have responded with an open letter addressed to “People Who Don’t Work Here” and “certain media outlets” who have “attempted to tell us what it’s like to be a woman at The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” It’s a very thorough rebuttal, asserting that women—despite Jezebel’s claims—“make up 40 percent of the staff” and “generate a significant portion of the show’s creative content,” while saying of Stewart, “For a sexist prick, he can be quite charming.” The author of the original piece has already issued a response, saying, “I just wish the show had agreed to answer questions or make anyone available to talk when I approached them for comment before the piece was published.” (So, uh, let that be a lesson to you, staffers of an incredibly busy television show: Always agree to comment on a Jezebel piece, or you run the risk of being called a sexist.)
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