How "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart became a star

As Stewart signs off from "The Daily Show," 60 Minutes revisits two early interviews with the man who turned fake news into must-see television

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"We have no credibility issue because we have absolutely no credibility."

That's how Jon Stewart described "The Daily Show" to Steve Kroft back in 2001, when Kroft first profiled him for 60 Minutes, video above.

The comedian had just become a mega-star thanks to his show's satirical coverage of the 2000 presidential election, which Stewart and his team aptly dubbed "Indecision 2000."


At the time, Kroft referred to "The Daily Show" as "television news' evil demented twin" and "an entertainment show disguised as news." Stewart himself was quick to agree, telling Kroft that he and his staff pulled their content straight from CNN or Fox News and that fact-checking was out of the question.

"We would never think to do that, to check actual facts," he said. "That's just not something that would ever occur to us."

But for its loyal viewers, many of whom glean their news from the program, "The Daily Show" is serious journalism. The program has won two prestigious Peabody Awards for election coverage, and a total of 20 Primetime Emmys. (Its network, Comedy Central, is owned by Viacom, which once owned CBS.)

"We would never think to do that, to check actual facts. That's just not something that would ever occur to us."

With Stewart at the helm, the show has attracted a slew of big-name guests - authors, CEOs, and political candidates eager to show they can roll with his edgy style. President Obama has been on the show seven times, including three since he took office.

When Kroft first visited "The Daily Show" in 2001, he described Stewart's bare-brick office as looking like a "senior dorm room on Sunday morning." But the gumball-chewing host, a onetime bartender, was already the head of a major media operation with a full staff of producers, writers and comedians, including future headliners Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Larry Wilmore.

These and other "correspondents" made their names mimicking the faux gravitas of their real-world counterparts.

"It's that sort of ... manufactured emotion that comes from having to go from a tragic ocean disaster where 90 people are lost, to 'And we'll meet a dog and you won't believe how much he loves ice cream,'" Stewart told Kroft.

Stewart, meanwhile, has managed to find comedy in topics as serious as healthcare reform and the war in Iraq, which he nicknamed "Mess-o-potamia."

For Stewart's take on the 2004 election, click on the media player below.

60 Minutes' Steve Kroft catches up with "Dail... 12:37

So is there anything Stewart can't do? Kroft posed that question when they met again in 2004.

Stewart rattled off a list. "I can't sing. Never been able to sing. I can't do voices very well. Every impression I do sounds the same. Can't dunk. Man, would I give anything to dunk."

"I was talking about material," Kroft said.

"I try not to do the unfunny stuff," Stewart replied. "That's the stuff I try not to do."