Sexism at the 'Daily Show' -- The Saga Continues

Suzanne Murray
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women of daily showLast month, we all heard about The Daily Show's Women Problem, courtesy of a blogger at Jezebel. The writer alleged that the nightly fake news show is really "a boys' club where women's contributions are often ignored and dismissed," and she chronicled the stories of former female employees there.

Today, the "Women of the Daily Show" responded in an open message on the show's website.

Here, an excerpt from the letter.

Dear People Who Don’t Work Here,

Recently, certain media outlets have attempted to tell us what it's like to be a woman at The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. We must admit it is entertaining to be the subjects of such a vivid and dramatic narrative. However, while rampant sexism at a well-respected show makes for a great story, we want to make something very clear: the place you may have read about is not our office.

The Daily Show isn't a place where women quietly suffer on the sidelines as barely tolerated tokens. On the contrary: just like the men here, we're indispensable. We generate a significant portion of the show's creative content and the fact is, it wouldn't be the show that you love without us ...

The truth is, when it comes down to it, The Daily Show isn't a boy's club or a girl's club, it's a family -- a highly functioning if sometimes dysfunctional family. And we're not thinking about how to maximize our gender roles in the workplace on a daily basis. We're thinking about how to punch up a joke about Glenn Beck's latest diatribe, where to find a Michael Steele puppet on an hour's notice, which chocolate looks most like an oil spill, and how to get a gospel choir to sing the immortal words, 'Go f@#k yourself!'"
The letter is signed by more than 30 female employees. But at least one blogger isn't buying it. Alex Leo of The Huffington Post writes,
"When you scroll to the bottom of the page to see the women's names and what they do there, you see only two female writers and one full-time female correspondent (Samantha Bee). Hallie Haglund, the longest-serving female writer, has '5 years' written next to her name and title, but as recently as two years ago when I asked Hallie to blog for us she was a receptionist there, putting in her dues. The other female writer, Jo Miller, has been there under a year. Excluding the two women who founded the show, 'DS' has only had two other female writers in its long history."

According to The New York Times, even though more women than men watch TV, very few women ever make it inside the writing rooms for late-night comedy hosts. Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, and David Letterman had no female writers.

As Leo points out, if there really were a hostile work environment at The Daily Show, women would likely be hesitant to speak up. And I agree. While the letter is nice and overboard lovey-dovey toward Jon Stewart ("He's also generous, humble, genuine, compassionate, fair, supportive, exacting, stubborn, goofy, hands-on, driven, occasionally infuriating, ethical, down-to-earth ..." ) it says everything you'd expect. Did anyone really think they'd pen an open letter saying they felt discriminated against?

The Daily Show was created by two women, Lizz Winstead and Madeleine Smithberg, in 1996 for Comedy Central. Too bad they didn't have the brilliant idea of having a woman host it.



Image via The Daily Show
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