NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Jon Stewart illustration

Illustration by CHARLES WALTMIRE



When asked about how he reacted to learning that one of his Daily Show satires was used as evidence to torture a journalist in Iran, Jon Stewart says, “I might have uttered the phrase: ‘Are you — with some profane adjective — are you kidding me?’ ” “It’s so surreal and it’s so absurd that it’s hard to imagine it as not farce,” Stewart tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. That discovery led to Stewart making his first film, Rosewater, adapted from a memoir by journalist Maziar Bahari. Bahari was born and raised in Iran. In 2009, he was back in Iran covering the presidential election and the subsequent protests challenging the results that kept President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power. After Bahari shot news video of the protests, he was arrested. During his 118 days in solitary confinement, he was beaten, tortured and accused of being a spy. The evidence Bahari’s torturer presented to prove he was a spy included a satirical report about Iran that Bahari had appeared in on the Daily Show. In the clip, Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones went to Iran to ask Iranians what makes them so evil. Jones was dressed like a spy in a B movie when he interviewed Bahari in a cafe. “I always assumed that somewhere one of our bits would be used like that — I just didn’t think it would be this one,” Stewart says. “I think it just affirms that sense that you always have that you cannot outsmart crazy. You can’t ever imagine how someone might weaponize idiocy.” MORE