When the email first arrived, something immediately felt a little off: Jon Stewart, writing off behalf of the liberal agitators CodePink, was urging the U.S. Senate to release classified memos justifying the use of pilotless drones in taking out terrorists. Stewart had recently done a segment on drones on "The Daily Show," so it didn’t seem totally implausible he was publicly urging their release. Still, as Stewart loves to remind us, he’s a comedian, not a newsman — let alone a political activist, let alone an activist allied with a group so far to the left.
Still, there it was, in our Inbox:
I like the president, but if he’s going to claim the right to kill me with a flying robot, don’t I at least deserve to know why?
Last week, we did a segment on The Daily Show about President Obama’s refusal to release the classified memos justifying his use of killer drones. Now, I’ve always said that I’m a comedian, even after my role in Big Daddy. But this story got me thinking a little more seriously.
Then I got a call from my friend Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK. She saw that my correspondent Aasif Mandvi had the memos and wanted us to release them. But ever since he read them, Aasif’s been too scared to come out from under his desk. So Medea asked me to join her in demanding that Congress do something.
Naturally, I said no. I’m a comedian, not an activist. But then she said I could have one of the giant vaginas she sometimes wears and I said “absolutely.” As a virile man, I’d do anything for a vagina.
CodePink got its start protesting the Iraq war but has since expanded its advocacy to the Palestinians, drones and other issues. They made their biggest splash in the Jewish world when CodePink activist Rae Abileah interrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the JFNA’s General Assembly in New Orleans. She pulled a similar stunt a year later, when Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress.
We mulled what to do with this. Is it fundamentally illegitimate to associate with CodePink? Is it a scandal that Stewart referred to the group’s founder, Medea Benjamin — a self-described "nice Jewish girl" from Long Island — as "my friend?" Were we engaging in guilt-by-association by assuming that just because Stewart was endorsing the group’s drone campaign he necessarily supported everything they stand for? And could we pull a Daily Show maneuver on the man himself, showing that Stewart was guilty of something he’d skewered others for: consorting with the loony fringe?
Fortunately, we were soon relieved of having to make any of these calls. Turns out, the email was a fake. A Comedy Central spokesperson confirmed Stewart had nothing to do with the email. Contacted by JTA, CodePink declined to comment.
In retrospect, we should have known, as Stewart has made clear he doesn’t believe CodePink is helping.