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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 02/10/15

Guests: Bill Carter, Kevin Avery, Lizz Winstead, Hunter Walker

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. We`ve got a chair here. I`m always going to have a chair here. So, whenever you feel you didn`t get in everything you needed to get in, just run over here and jump in. RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: I`ll be right there. O`DONNELL: OK. Thanks, Rachel. Well, tonight, we will be covering that trial in Texas. The man who killed Chris Kyle goes on trial tomorrow in Texas. Also, Benjamin Netanyahu continues to ignore everyone who`s advising him to cancel his speech to a joint session of Congress. And Jon Stewart, as you by now know, shocked the media world and the political world tonight. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: This is "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: Welcome to "The Daily News". My name is Jon Stewart. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jon Stewart has announced that he is leaving "The Daily Show." STEWART: But first -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve learned the jury has been seated in what`s becoming known as the American sniper trial. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s ten women and two men. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just hope a fair trial gets done. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s just kind of the persona that he`s guilty, period. BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I`m going to the United States. Not because I seek a confrontation with the president, but because I must fulfill my obligation. JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The prime minister of Israel has come many times in the past. NETANYAHU: This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a back and forth going on between the president and Bibi Netanyahu? JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If there is, I`m certainly not going to continue it from here. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president of the United States is set to ask Congress for new war powers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To ask for new war authorization as soon as tomorrow. STEWART: Obviously right now, the Middle East is spiraling out of control. So, tell me, what should America do about that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, how about nothing? SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think it would be pretty safe to say we`re stuck. JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We need a fully funded appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security and we need it real soon. MCCONNELL: It`s clear we can`t go forward in the Senate unless you`ve heard something I haven`t. And so, the next move obviously is up to the House. STEWART: But first, here it is, your moment of Zen. Here it is, your moment of Zen. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: You made it, the fastest run across the hall. MADDOW: Our studios are not that far apart. O`DONNELL: No, but we had to rewire you for this show and all that stuff. MADDOW: It`s true. O`DONNELL: All right. I`m glad you`re all here, because Rachel, you handled this an hour ago. I have to now handle what is for me one of the most difficult thing I`ve had to do in this job. And that is the news NBC announced tonight about Brian Williams being suspended for six months. So, I just want to read the NBC News statement about this, issued by the NBC News president, Deborah Turness. She said, "While on Nightly News on Friday, January 30, 2015, Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian`s position. "In addition, we have concerns about comments that occurred outside NBC News while Brian was talking about his experiences in the field. "As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times. We felt it would have been wrong to disregard the good work Brian has done and the special relationship he has forged with our viewers over 22 years. Millions of Americans have turned to him every day, and he has been an important and well-respected part of our organization." In addition to that statement, the head of NBC Universal, Steve Burke, issued a smaller note to us all here at NBC saying, "This has been a painful period for all concerned and we appreciate your patience while we gathered the available facts. By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian`s life`s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone`s trust." This is so difficult for me. I couldn`t be more biased. I like Brian. He`s a friend of me. Bill Carter, you`re here because we need an objective, outside view of this. This was your beat at "The New York Times," covering this kind of news. What is your reaction to those statements tonight? BILL CARTER, FORMER NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Well, I mean, it`s disturbing and it`s sad. It`s disturbing because they obviously feel like they found a lot that makes this really serious. When we first heard about it, we thought well, maybe he just did some embellishment. But I think this is a sign that there`s something very serious and maybe consistent. And so they had to take some action. It`s sad because I agree with you, I like Brian enormously. I think he`s really good at his job, I have enormous respect for him. And I think he`s been a very important person at NBC News, so it`s a tremendous blow. O`DONNELL: I`ve had the occasion, I remember in 2000 at the Republican Convention in Philadelphia, Brian is anchoring in this chair. I`m sitting in that chair beside him for quite a long time, and just marveling at his skills, Rachel, you know, in this job. Which involves so many things and so many -- he had so many quick and extemporaneous issues that came up with that he had to deal with. I just don`t know what to make of the whole thing. I just have been kind of pulling for him, as Steve Burke says. And for me, it`s just on a friend basis. So, I`m not going to be the guy who comes on and analyzes this story -- is capable from analyzing from any other than a friend basis. We`re lucky, we`re very lucky at NBC that we have someone like Lester Holt to get into that chair, occupy it flawlessly as he has done, you know, in this difficult situation. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW": And you know, there`s a question as to the institution of NBC News and its anchor and where the division is between them. I mean, he`s had this title of managing editor, in addition to being anchor, which is an important thing. I mean, he`s overall responsible for the all of the overall content on NBC Nightly News. In fact, the initial decision to take Brian off the air for a few days before the six-month suspension, Brian announced it was him making that decision for himself as managing editor of his own broadcast. I think to Bill`s point, though, in terms of what this decision implies about what NBC News found, that`s going to be very interesting. I mean, obviously, NBC News has a responsibility to correct any misstatements made on their air, if they were made -- if they were presented as news and they weren`t. Anything that was false and that was done as an NBC News product must be corrected by the news division. Things that Brian said about himself, off of NBC News, not in a news- delivering capacity, are a much grayer area in terms of what the responsibility is of the news division, both to discipline for those things and to correct them. And that`s going to be interesting to see. And that`s why I wish we sort of had more information about what was behind this decision. O`DONNELL: Yes, I think they`re working on it. I spoke to a combat veteran Friday night. This story was ripe, and as someone who lost a limb in combat. And he just said, you know, I`m pulling for Brian. I know a lot of people who come out of these situations and their stories aren`t exactly straight, and he just said it`s not -- talking about war stories. That`s why they call them war stories. So anyway, I`ve heard real sympathy for him out there. But I just think it`s such a difficult case, and so strange and mostly shocking. I still haven`t processed the shock of it. BETH FOUHY, MSNBC SENIOR EDITOR: It`s really shocking. And I`ll tell you, as an employee of this company, I`m very sad. I`m quite upset by it as you are and I`m sure Rachel, as well. As a journalist, sort of outside of the bit, looking at how they decided to handle it -- look, people are going to take potshots for NBC for the decisions they made. But I actually think this was an appropriate way the deal with this. So many days we`ve been watching Twitter, watching Facebook, watching the reporting. It`s been sort of binary. Either he stays or he goes. And then when they came up with this decision, I thought it was a bit odd. But then I thought, you know what? That`s probably the right way to go. It`s very serious. He`s been taken off the air, which is an anchorman`s oxygen, as you know. And yet, it`s not - it`s saying his career here has been valued in some way, that it`s been worth something. That it`s counting -- MADDOW: But we don`t know why they made this decision. I mean, the only thing they said -- (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: -- is what Brian said himself, which is the thing he said on the broadcast a week or so ago on Nightly News was incorrect. They said nothing else. CARTER: Yes, they said there were other comments. MADOW: Other comments. But we don`t know what they are. We don`t know if they were war stories. We don`t know if they were about something else. I feel like NBC has done something very serious, and they said they have made a severe decision that is appropriate. But we don`t have any way of assessing whether or not it is appropriate, because we don`t know what they found. FOUHY: Right. The fact checking that they`re doing under the investigative unit needs to go on, and the audience deserves an answer. MADDOW: I`m frustrated by the fact we don`t know more. O`DONNELL: Kevin Avery, are you feeling deceived that we got you here under false -- (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Kevin is a writer for HBO -- (CROSSTALK) KEVIN AVERY, ACTOR/WRITER: What are we doing? O`DONNELL: Kevin is one of the brilliant writers for HBO`s "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" and we invited him to discuss the biggest news of the night, which was Jon Stewart deciding he was going to leave of his job. And a half an hour after that happened, we got I really want to get on to what happened at Comedy Central today and what this means in your field. This is a giant situation that`s just opened up over there. AVERY: It`s weird. It`s obviously a huge thing. I actually got the call -- I didn`t know about the news until I got the call to do this show. (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: The whole industry was turned upside down. (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) AVERY: It`s happening. I don`t know what`s going on. So, yes, it`s all -- it`s weird. It`s very weird. You know, I -- the first thought is who is going to replace him? How are you going to fill those shoes, you know? O`DONNELL: Well, I mean, look at John Oliver. I mean, look what happened that`s who replaced him, and they went right inside the building. So, inside the building right now, they have Samantha Bee, Aasif Mandvi, Jason Jones, Al Madrigal, we`ve got pictures up here, Jessica Williams, and could you put Rachel Maddow`s head shot up there. Have you had any calls from Comedy Central? MADDOW: You know, no, unless they`re going to do anything about owls attacks in Salem, Oregon. O`DONNELL: I don`t know. Rachel is -- (CROSSTALK) MADDOW: They could get the owl. O`DONNELL: Kevin, do you want to take a big bow for the writers of these shows? Because one of the things that John Oliver taking the chair showed was he was working with all of the same writers who are there for Jon, so the quality of the show really held on. AVERY: Yes, I mean, it`s funny. When we started doing "Last Week Tonight", I did have this initial sort of -- this is a nervousness doing a new show like that. I hope this is going to work. But I always go back to the fact that oh, no, he`s done this. He`s slipped stuff right into Stewart`s shoes and just kind of bangs it out and was great. So, yes, I don`t know, that kind of goes away when I think of that. Like, oh, here`s the guy who knows what he`s doing. MADDOW: Does "The Daily Show" go away? O`DONNELL: No. Bill Carter will tell you why. CARTER: People forget "The Daily Show" existed before. MADDOW: Craig. O`DONNELL: Craig Kilborn. CARTER: So, "The Daily Show" is the franchise and Jon took it over. (CROSSTALK) CARTER: Jon put his stamp on it like nobody`s ever -- he`s won 10 Emmy Awards in a row. I mean, that`s his show. But "The Daily Show" is going to go on and they will find another host. They`re good at that, they`re very good at that. They put Stephen Colbert on. I think Larry Wilmore is doing really well. MADDOW: Yes. CARTER: I think they`ll find the right host, but replacing him is an enormous task. I mean, I don`t envy the guy or the woman. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what is now in so poignant moment in his "Fresh Air" interview with Terry Gross where he talked about what would happen if he left. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) STEWART: I do feel like I don`t know that there will ever be anything that I will ever be as well suited for as this show. That being said, I think there are moments when you realize that`s not enough anymore or that maybe it`s time for some discomfort. I`m still very proud of the work we do day in and day out. The minute I say I`m not going to do it anymore, I will miss it like crazy and I will consider that to be a terrible mistake that I`ve just made. And I will want to grab it back. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, Kevin, that means he`s home tonight missing it like crazy. And tomorrow he`s going to try to grab it right back. AVERY: I think he`ll come right back. I think he`ll be gone for like five seconds, I mean, you know -- MADDOW: Can I book you for my show tomorrow? AVERY: Yes. (LAUGHTER) AVERY: I think he`ll we`re missing an obvious choice, you know? I mean, Colbert leaves, he takes over for Letterman and someone, you know, Wilmore is sort of taking over Colbert`s spot. What`s Letterman doing? Bring him back -- MADDOW: Yes, there you go. CARTER: I thought you were going to say Brian William there. AVERY: I -- you know, that`s a possibility. You guys, I really think you`re going -- having a round about way of trying to ask me to do it. O`DONNELL: Yes. (LAUGHTER) AVERY: And what you`re doing there, you know, that`s what this is all about. (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: And, Beth, Jon Stewart changed politics. You know, there was a time when -- in Washington, the calculation was, I will mention name you might not know, if Johnny Carson did three -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not young. O`DONNELL: You`re kids. AVERY: I don`t know. O`DONNELL: If Johnny he did three consecutive jokes about a politician, he was dead. It turned out the rule got broken when Bill Clinton brought into his 1992 campaign, you know, disaster stuff with scandals and sex scandals. And Johnny went up and did something like eight Clinton jokes in a row. Inside politics, people went, that`s it, it`s over. I thought -- well, that`s it. I used that math. Carson jokes, it`s over. FOUHY: Well, remember this, who is -- allegedly the first choice to replace, to take over "Meet the Press", instead of Chuck Todd? It was Jon Stewart. O`DONNELL: I never believe that. FOUHY: Oh, it was pretty much confirmed, Lawrence. CARTER: I think you could believe it. FOUHY: That is a sign comedy has done a better job covering politics than regrettably -- CARTER: That comedy has, for sure. I mean, he`s particularly attracting people who don`t pay attention to the regular news, his show became sort of a de facto newscast for people under 30. FOUHY: Well, I think that`s the real danger. If he goes, and yes, you`re saying that someone will replace him, but will that person have this kind of ability to bring a different audience to the news and to treat news as something to expose and make fun of, rather than come one this high handled approach that`s been the traditional way to do it? O`DONNELL: Kevin, is it your sense -- your audience -- my sense of it is, "The Daily Show`s" audience, your audience -- their laughs are working off of a base of news knowledge that they have before they get to your show. I mean, some of these jokes wouldn`t work if they didn`t know a lot already because they get to your show. AVERY: Yes, I mean, I don`t think the audience shows up and then -- oh, this is something I never heard of before. I think you`re watching the show because you`re always interested in these topics. So, yes, I think the audience wants to hear more about it. I think there`s already sort of an understanding and they just -- they`re kind of -- we want to know more. How can you make this funny for us? How can you make us enjoy this because some of it is just not, some of it just horrible stuff? MADDOW: I think that what`s really important to the humor and the influence is the credibility of the show. I mean, "The Daily Show" and other Comedy Central shows that do the news, do corrections when they get stuff wrong. They`re credible. They`re bringing -- they have rigorous fact-checking. They bring you stuff that you can take to the bank, even if it does have a lot of fart jokes in the middle of it. CARTER: The best research imaginable. If a politician said anything in his high school on a video, they find it and say, well, that`s what he said 20 years ago, and they manage to turn -- they are as good at that as anybody. O`DONNELL: Jon Stewart going home, ladies and gentlemen, dressed exactly as a friend of mine who was at the show the other night said, a friend of mine ran into Jon in the hallway and he didn`t recognize him. He`s actually, it`s Penn Jillette, he was there for Larry (INAUDIBLE). Didn`t recognize him and Jon said, "Penn", and Penn looked at him, and Jon said, yes, I dressed like a child. Rachel, true confession time. MADDOW: Yes? O`DONNELL: Do you watch "The Daily Show" as I do and look at certain things that they do and think, oh, if we could ever do it that way? MADDOW: I also think like, I can`t believe he did it first. I can`t believe he did it first. I was thinking about doing that, and now, I can never do it because I can`t do it like that. That`s what happened, is the opportunity cost with him getting to something before I had a chance to try to do it in a one, you know, mini-version of what he could do. I mean, listen, they don`t have the constraints of a news show in the sense that, you know, they pick whatever they want and talk about it for as long as they want within the 30 minutes, that time frame. They bring in an interview or not, moment of Zen, or not, time to go. O`DONNELL: Right. MADDOW: So, you know, you`re not doing seven segments and the whole thing. They do seasons. They take hiatus. They have all of this great stuff. But when they do news segments, they`re better than -- anything than any of us are doing. You know, it`s true, they do -- their production value, their credibility and the sense of humor and the swearing. CARTER: Yes, that helps. But they also - (CROSSTALK) CARTER: They comment on the media better than anyone. O`DONNELL: Yes, they do. And we all live in fear of those comments. CARTER: Yes. O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a quick break. One of the creators of "The Daily Show", Lizz Winstead, is going to join us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: And now, for our continued comprehensive coverage of "The Final Blow." You`re out of order, he`s out of order, this whole trial is sexy. Republicans want to call Monica Lewinsky to the stand, as well as any other women Clinton may have had affairs with. However, many officials oppose the idea, saying the caravan of trailer homes to Washington could paralyze interstate traffic and rob the Little Rock fast food industry of hundreds of its most reliable assistant managers. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was Jon Stewart`s very first "Daily Show". One of the creators of "The Daily Show" is going to join me, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Slate, they have a piece on dotcom, Santa Claus should not be a white man anymore. By the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. But this person is just arguing that maybe we should also have a black Santa. But you know, Santa is what he is. And so, just so you know, we`re just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) just got real. Santa is just white. And who are you actually talking to? Children who are sophisticated enough to be watching a news channel at 10:00 at night, yet innocent enough to still believe Santa Claus is real, yet racist enough to be freaked out if he isn`t white. Why -- (APPLAUSE) STEWART: That`s such a narrow -- yes, West Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Kevin, it`s so fascinating to watch his comedy tools develop over the years. That take, that silent reaction take that he did at the end of the video was something he didn`t have refined to that level when he started that show. AVERY: Yes. I mean, that`s one of those things that you -- that`s part of feeling out your audience and comes with years of knowing what the crowd wants to see from you. And also knowing what they`re all thinking, too. You know? Because I was watching that clip going, what the hell? What`s going on here? Do we not know about -- he`s brilliant at that sort of taking what -- he knows the audience want to hear. O`DONNELL: We`re joined by phone by Lizz Winstead, one of the creators of "The Daily Show." Lizz, here we are at this gigantic crossroads for the show that you created. The first host of the show was Craig Kilborn, is that right? LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR, "THE DAILY SHOW" (via telephone): That`s correct. O`DONNELL: He did about two years, and then Jon Stewart came in and very -- how quickly do you think Jon Stewart made it his own? WINSTEAD: Well, I think once Jon realized -- I have a really bad cold, guys. So -- O`DONNELL: We figured that out as soon as I heard your voice. WINSTEAD: I was on Theraflu and my phone blew out. And I was like, did someone horrible die, everyone at MSNBC has called me? (LAUGHTER) WINSTEAD: So, I`m really, but that`s not the case. But I think once Jon realized he didn`t have to be Craig and he could be himself, that`s when he really could settle into his own and what Jon did with the show that I think is brilliant is, when it was Craig, the show was, for lack of a better way to put it, more like Colbert, because there was no voice of the people. Everybody was in character. So, what Jon did was, he was the voice of all of us, and he surrounded himself by the fools that he perceived as sort of the media do, and then he could play the voice of reason. It was so brilliant and it allowed him to do exactly what you were all talking about, which was to be accurate, to show the hypocrisy, and not only take on media makers but the media itself, which I think he`s done brilliantly. O`DONNELL: And, Bill Carter, Jon Stewart did not become the highest rated comedian in late night, but he did become, by an order of magnitude, the highest paid. I remember being quite shocked to discover that little old Comedy Central was capable of paying more than ABC, more than NBC, he`s making more than Jay, Jay`s peak of earnings, more than Dave. CARTER: Well, you know, if you think about what Jon did for Comedy Central, I mean, they had "South Park", they had other franchises. O`DONNELL: Yes. CARTER: But, boy, did he put that network on the map, and then he got Colbert. Colbert was on the show, but he turned him into a star and built another show. So, now they had an hour, four nights a week that was really strong and the demos got very strong young audiences. So that`s so valuable for that network. Basically, he was face, the signature start of that network. O`DONNELL: Yes. And, he`s -- Rachel, he`s done a great job of that executive half hour that follows, Larry Wilmore, he`s the one that said it should be Larry. He`s doing a fantastic job of building beyond just "The Daily Show." MADDOW: It takes the right amount of ego and the right amount of adulthood and maturity and equanimity to be willing to be a launching pad for everybody else`s great careers, right? I mean, to see Colbert not only be successful on "The Colbert Report" but to make the leap he`s making to CBS, to spin off with Larry, to spin off with Jon, to have launched so many other people into doing similar but its unique work I think it speaks well to him just in terms of his eye and also his maturity, his willingness to be a good guy about to share the wealth. (CROSSTALK) WINSTEAD: Can I also add? O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Lizz. WINSTEAD: The maturity to have the patience to let something develop so that you can really make pin point decisions. Know that great jokes should be thrown out, because they don`t fit in the tone of the show, and even waiting until Stephen was ready and full formed and grown. Stephen probably could have launched his show even six months before he did, but they waited until the exact right time for a seamless flow. And patience in this business is just so incredibly precious and can make all the difference in the world. I think that is just one of the greatest things that he`s done. O`DONNELL: I want to take a look at one of his more serious moments, because there certainly have been many and they`ve usually been under difficult circumstances like after 9/11. But I want to see something more recent this year, what he said after the Eric Garner decision. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: I -- I just-- I don`t know. I honestly don`t know what to say. If comedy is tragedy plus time, I need more (EXPLETIVE DELETED) time. But I would really settle for less (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tragedy, to be honest with you. You know, I think what is so utterly depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case, exist in the Staten Island case. And yet, the outcome is exactly the same. No crime, no trial, all harm, no foul. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That`s what I love about that. I think that in his heart he felt like I don`t know what to say. Then, in fact, he did find what to say. FOUHY: Right. But he didn`t try to apply any humor or satire. And that`s why it stood out. It was a genuine moment that was absent the Jon Stewart, you know, dig that he normally gives. Another thing I was thinking watching that, even that very somber segment, but the segment before that we bumped in on was the very mature view that Jon Stewart had early on the show had to make things snackable, very oriented towards social media. These segments that could just be clipped, you don`t have to stay up until 11:00 to watch the show. You could get up the next morning, everybody is talking about it on Twitter, everybody is posting it on their Facebook. So, it lives on and on and on, the long tail of the Internet kind of brings it back around. So, yes, for a TV producer, you want everybody to watch the show when it takes place, but for this comedian, for this material, it lives on and on and on in all these different platforms, and he was doing that pretty much before anybody else was. O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a quick break and come back with more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Rachel, I could just watch Stewart clips all night. (LAUGHTER) Why don`t we. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: OK. O`DONNELL: OK, here`s -- (LAUGHTER) -- here`s the gang about 12 years on "The Daily Show." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHEN COLBERT, FORMER COMEDY CENTRAL HOST: Aloha, Jon. (LAUGHTER) JON STEWART, COMEDY CENTRAL HOST: Stephen, this has become a huge story overnight. But no one seems to know what these allegations are about. Have you been able to learn any of the specifics. COLBERT: It is a great story. It`s the type of story the reporter waits his entire career not to be able to report on. (LAUGHTER) Now, if you`ll excuse me. I`ve been invited to a grouse hunting party in Shropshire. It`s just a few dozen men, some stable boys, -- (LAUGHTER) -- all of us in kilts, naturally, -- (LAUGHTER) -- drinking a few yards of ale. And here`s the fun part, Jon -- whoever shoots the -- (LAUGHTER) -- whoever shoots -- (LAUGHTER) -- whoever shoots the fewer grouse has to go through the spanking machine. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: Stephen, I have to tell you, that story, or what I heard of it, all sounds pretty gay. (LAUGHTER) COLBERT: Not gay, Jon. Aristocratic. It`s a different culture than ours. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Oh, Rachel, what I love about that is there`s Stephen Colbert, who then proves himself, years later, to be the most perfect in- character player you could ever have, who never cracks ever about anything. MADDOW: Yes. O`DONNELL: And he can`t hold it together. MADDOW: And when he can`t hold it together, Stewart just like, "Oh, you`re setting yourself on fire?" O`DONNELL: Yes. MADDOW: "Allow me to hold the fire trucks back." O`DONNELL: Yes. MADDOW: He just lets him go, like, "I`m not going to say anything. I`m not going to rescue you. You go." And that`s one of those clips where I -- where, just like -- you know what, the under -- the underappreciated factor here is the live audience. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. MADDOW: You know what I mean. No matter how -- no matter how funny anybody else is in news, nobody else has a live audience -- (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Yes. MADDOW: -- like these guys in Comedy Central. And it matters so much because they become this, basically, fourth wall, right. So that, you know, that what you think is funny actually is funny. It gives you permission to laugh. But it also gives them away to play so many more of their talents than they would otherwise, by using it just talking to a teleprompter. And it`s so -- it`s so effective. It`s such a -- O`DONNELL: Kevin, there`s a way in which that live audience -- they`re kind of like your co-writers. You write the material, -- KEVIN AVERY, ACTOR AND WRITER FOR HBO`S "LAST WEEK TONIGHT": Yes. O`DONNELL: -- and then they kind of make a declaration about how important that line was as you move on. AVERY: Yes. I mean, they`ll tell you right on -- you know, on the spot, "Hey, we want you to do a little bit more of this, a little bit more" -- O`DONNELL: Yes, yes. (LAUGHTER) AVERY: And also, there`s something, too, about watching Colbert break like that, because there`s a guy who -- he`s constantly in character, he`s constantly being that guy. And then, to see him lose it like that, the audience -- it`s weird because Jon is just being straightforward. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) He`s being Jon. But, every once in a while, it`s fun for the audience to see Stephen just be real, -- MADDOW: Uh-hmm. AVERY: -- be super honest, you know. That was the fun thing about watching those guys. O`DONNELL: And, Beth, the -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- the thing that Jon Stewart kept doing time and time again in our politics was just finding that thing -- in a candidate or that -- maybe we were on the verge of noticing but hadn`t quite noticed yet. And then that became the comedy hook that everybody was using into that candidate. BETH FOUNY, MSNBC SENIOR EDITOR: Yes. And that sort of relates to what I was saying before, that how everything became so snackable and cheerable. And what everybody would send around was like, "Jon Stewart perfectly skewered" -- O`DONNELL: Yes. FOUHY: -- fill in the blanks -- O`DONNELL: Yes. FOUHY: -- John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Barack Obama, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Michele Bachmann. Everybody was saying pretty much what we were saying before. It`s like, "Damn, why didn`t I think of that." He always thought of it first. He said it brilliantly. Everybody shared it. Everybody said, "This is what -- this is what I was thinking but I couldn`t figure out how to say it." He said it. MADDOW: Case in point, Lindsey Graham, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- attempting to run for president this year. One of the main reasons Lindsey Graham can`t seriously run for president is because everybody under the age of 40 really only knows the way Jon Stewart talks about Lindsey Graham, which is a disqualifying caricature. It just can`t -- I mean, once that is who you are, once you`re Gerald Ford, who falls down the steps, whether or not you actually did fall down the steps, once that caricature is more powerful than your actual persona, forget it. O`DONNELL: Lizz, when shows become a giant hit like this and they come to this kind of historic moment in the show, it`s always interesting to look back at all the giant mistakes that could have been made at the conception stage, including -- there`s the question of live audience. Was there ever any doubt -- was anyone ever saying, "Hey, that could be difficult. There`s a budget issue -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- with a live audience." LIZZ WINSTEAD, "THE DAILY SHOW" CO-CREATOR (via telephone): Oh. O`DONNELL: They`ve got to manage a live audience. That might be tricky. WINSTEAD: Well, let me tell you that we launched without a live audience. O`DONNELL: Oh, my God. MADDOW: Oh. WINSTEAD: And that lasted about a minute and a half. I think it -- (LAUGHTER) -- it literally lasted for, I think, three shows and it was like -- O`DONNELL: So, Lizz, were you standing offstage trying to laugh very loud so the mics could pick you up. WINSTEAD: You know, I could stand here and laugh really loud and the mics could pick me up. (LAUGHTER) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) But, yes -- I mean, it was such death right away that we scrambled and had an audience. And it made a gigantic difference. So, back to you guys` point about those guys picking out that moment or that piece -- I don`t want -- I certainly want you guys off the -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- hook slightly on that. because their job is to find that and your job is to do the news. And so, that -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- that`s where the differentiation part happens, right. It`s that they have the luxury of being able to seek all day for the foible. And then to take that foible and explore it for a story. And they do it brilliantly but, you know, it`s the luxury of being able to look through a lens that is part news, but also part -- sort of looking, scratching the underbelly and seeing who`s behind the curtain. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a break here. Hunter Walker, you didn`t get in this time but, when we come back, we`re going to come back with a little piece that`s going to show you how important New Jersey was to this show. (LAUGHTER) You`re going to love this. (LAUGHTER) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: We want to take a moment to focus on our president, President Bush. He was in Kennebunkport for a long weekend, trying to take his mind obviously away from the pressures of his job. He did so by playing a little golf. But, you know, the tragic events in the Middle East were impossible for him to ignore. Here`s how he addressed them. GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killings. Thank you. Now, watch this drive. (LAUGHTER) (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) STEWART: You were this close. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Rachel, at that time, 2002, there was no one else in any television program anywhere in America that was catching that moment that way. MADDOW: Yes. And that was -- I mean, talking about the research skills, it`s not just being able to go through lots of stuff, it`s the ability to have the acuity to watch past the sound bite, -- O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. MADDOW: -- to watch for the things just outside the frame, to recognize the absurdity where everybody else is soft of willing to take the stage instructions. This is brilliant stuff. O`DONNELL: Another quick break, and then, Hunter, I promise you, the New Jersey moment is coming up. (LAUGHTER) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) OK, Hunter Walker, here is the New Jersey moment. And it was -- it was not on the show. It was not on "The Daily Show." It`s my favorite Jon Stewart moment not on "The Daily Show" and I think one of his most beautiful pieces of writing. It was at the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C. And he gave us an example of how people could get along. It was really unique and born of New Jersey life experience. Let`s watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are, these cars. That`s a schoolteacher who probably thinks that taxes are too high. He`s going to work. There`s another car, a woman with two small kids, can`t really think about anything else right now. There`s another car swinging. I don`t even know if you can see it. (LAUGHTER) A lady is in the NRA and loves Oprah. There`s another car, an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. (LAUGHTER) Another car is a Latino carpenter. Another car, a fundamentalist vacuum salesman, atheist obstetrician, Mormon Jay Z fan. (LAUGHTER) But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong beliefs and principles they hold dear, often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers. And yet, these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile-long, 30-foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river, -- (LAUGHTER) -- carved by people, by the way, who, I`m sure, had their differences. (LAUGHTER) And they do it, concession by concession. You go, then I`ll go. You go, then I`ll go. You go, then I`ll go. Oh, my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car. Is that an Obama sticker on your car. Oh, that`s OK. You go, and then I`ll go. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Hunter, the "You go, then I`ll go," it was a New Jersey poetry. And there were shots. I was watching it on C-SPAN that day, and the monitors were up. And he kept the video of the cars. You can watch the cars making that decision every time he said, "You go, then I`ll go." It was really, really beautiful. And, Kevin, you`ll like this. I spoke to a "Daily Show" writer friend that I knew after that. I complimented him on that. And he said to me, "That was all Jon. Jon wrote that." HUNTER WALKER, POLITICS EDITOR, "BUSINESS INSIDER": Well, I had so many friends that were at that rally. And I think, you know, for my generation, they`ve really had an emotional connection to Jon Stewart. And I think, one thing that we haven`t really touched on yet today is that we saw this new media revolution in sort of the middle part of the last decade. And he really prefigured that, this so-called fake news, where he brought in his opinion, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- he brought in his personal perspective. He brought in some humor. He was doing that before the blogosphere. And, really, the other news media followed suit. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And we have -- we`re joined by Harry Enten, who -- you`ve been watching this stuff -- you know, you didn`t have to live through the decades of TV that didn`t have this kind of Jon Stewart stuff that I lived through, which is -- which is being played against constantly in these shows, whether it`s conscious or subconscious. But what`s your reaction to the big news tonight. HARRY ENTEN, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: I mean, all of my friends watch Jon Stewart. O`DONNELL: Yes. ENTEN: Forty percent of Jon Stewart`s audience are 18 to 29-year- olds. That`s amazing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) The median age for most television programs are right in their 60 percent. O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. ENTEN: And, also, younger people tend to be more liberal, more democratic. Jon Stewart`s is one of the few shows on television right now, or one of the few news programs right now in which the plurality of people are liberal, identify as liberal. Most people in this country identify as conservative, or a plurality do. So, the fact of the matter is, this is much bigger news than, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- say, Brian Williams being suspended for six months. This is huge news for my generation. O`DONNELL: Beth Fouhy, but I -- do you have conservative friends. I have Republican friends who tell me about great Jon Stewart bits all the time. They watch that show and get a huge kick out of it. FOUHY: Yes. I mean, he does do a fox on all your houses. I mean, let`s face it, he does have an audience that skews more liberal. One would imagine, he`s probably fairly liberal. But the fact that he goes right after the media, he`ll make fun of the president when the president deserves to be made fun of. Let`s not forget, he was the roommate of Anthony Weiner when the Anthony Weiner scandal went down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And he was right there in the mix of it. He said -- he would say, "Look, I know the guy. I`m friends with the guy but the guy really, you know, kind of creeps me out." I mean, he calls truth. And that`s what people like. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: David Axelrod was apparently the guest on the show tonight. Because he does so many book interviews, it`s David Axelrod`s turn. David Axelrod tweeted -- TEXT: "Just had the honor of being the Great Jon Stewart`s guest on "The Daily Show," where he announced he`s leaving. Emotional night." Kevin, I can imagine what an emotional night it is over there after that kind of run. And there are still -- they`ve got, maybe six months to go. He said, "I`m going to leave later this year," so that`s several months. How do you think will change the working atmosphere there, knowing this is going to end. AVERY: I mean, you know, I would imagine it`s going to slowly hit -- the reality of it is it`s going to slowly hit people, hit the writers, hit the production staff. But I also think it`s going to make people -- you know, these guys are going to -- want to sort of crank out the best shows that they can on the last -- you know, in these last sort of months that they have Jon Stewart with them. I would imagine -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- it would really kind of galvanize and really energize the staff and make them, you know, "Hey, let`s -- better, funnier show. Let`s just keep doing what we`re doing." Because it`s going to -- when it`s gone, it`s going to be, you know, it`s just going to be weird. It`s going to be -- I`m a writer. I want to write the best that I`ve ever written for him. O`DONNELL: Yes, I would think so. (END VIDEO CLIP) Within seconds of this being announced, there was a report by a reporter on "The Hill" saying, everyone on the floor -- the House is talking about Jon Stewart leaving. We`re going to get some congressional reaction and come back quickly. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted tonight -- TEXT: "Washington is rigged for the big guys and no person has more consistently called them out for it than Jon Stewart. Good luck, Jon." We`ll be right back with more about Jon Stewart leaving "The Daily Show." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Here is Jon Stewart`s first show after 9/11 -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEWART: Good evening, and welcome to "The Daily Show." We are back. This is our first show since the tragedy in New York City. And there`s no other way really to start the show than to ask you at home the question that we asked the audience here tonight. And that we`ve asked everybody that we know here in New York since September 11th, and that is, "Are you OK?" And we pray that you are and that your family is. They said to get back to work. And there were no jobs available for a man in the fetal position under his desk crying, -- (LAUGHTER) -- which I gladly would have taken. (LAUGHTER) We`ve had an unenduring pain here, an unendurable pain. And I just -- I wanted to tell you why I grieve. But why I don`t despair. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Kevin, I`m not sure who could have handled that better, someone who grew up in the region, living and working in New York at the time. AVERY: Yes. I mean, he was sort of a guy we are all looking to to help bring us back from that, you know. It`s like, what`s he going to say. What`s he going to do. And it`s also the mark of a great comedian who can -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- sort of be as real as that and still -- you know, and still keep his audience with him, you know, still not weird out the audience, like, "Oh, is this is going to be awkward?" You know, we`re OK with him taking a moment to be very honest and sort of open himself up like that. O`DONNELL: Lizz Winstead, the show you created is now in, what, its 17th, 18th year, "The Daily Show." And it looks like once they get that new host in place, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- maybe another 17 years. (LAUGHTER) WINSTEAD: Yes. And I think that -- I just feel really happy that -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- I could build (ph) some bones that Jon could prevalently (ph) carry to where it is. And John Oliver showed that, you know, you can -- you can put a new voice and a new host in. And with talented writers, you know, audiences, always, they`re a little uncomfortable and have to get used to a new person. But I think that the trajectory that the show took with the -- with Jon at the helm, has even opened it up to be a vehicle that, with the right person, can just carry on and create its own new chapter. And I`m actually really excited about it. O`DONNELL: Hunter Walker, this may be one of -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- those moments where we thought we knew how much we needed Jon Stewart and how much we`re kind of addicted to what he does. And then, he says, "I`m leaving." And, oh, boy. It`s worse than I thought. WALKER: Well, I definitely think we haven`t seen the last of him. I mean, he just -- O`DONNELL: Oh, no. WALKER: -- he just did a movie. There`s something else in the works. But, I think, the big question I have right now, you know, Colbert set the bar really -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- high with his finale. He had this like supernova -- O`DONNELL: Oh, right, there`s a finale coming. WALKER: Yes. What is Jon Stewart going to do to -- O`DONNELL: That`s the perfect note to end on. Thank you very much to the whole gang here -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- Beth Fouhy, Lizz Winstead on the phone. Harry Enten, thanks for coming in. Kevin Avery, thank you, Hunter Walker. That`s it. Chris Hayes is up next. END