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Media Person
of the Year

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2004 Media Person of the Year:
Jon Stewart

The "fake news" anchor is voted as the year's
most influential figure in the media — beating out
Tom Brokaw, Bill O'Reilly, Dan Rather.

Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," was named 2004 Media Person of the Year in the annual online poll held by I WANT MEDIA. Stewart was announced as the "media icon" of the year on CNBC's "Topic A with Tina Brown" on Dec. 19, 2004.

The readers of I WANT MEDIA nominated 30 candidates and sent thousands of hits to the Internet poll held Nov. 15 - Dec. 12, 2004. Stewart received more votes than any other figure on the list, which included media CEOs, journalists, television news personalities, and bloggers. Among the candidates: Roger Ailes, Tom Brokaw, Rupert Murdoch, Bill O'Reilly, Dan Rather.







In 2004, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," the popular Comedy Central program that lampoons news broadcasts, beat out traditional news shows to win the Television Critics Association's honor for outstanding news and information programming. "The Daily Show" has been cited as an alternative source of news for a growing number of young people. In October, Stewart engaged in a widely discussed on-air verbal sparring match with the hosts of CNN's "Crossfire" over journalism ethics.

Many readers submitted comments for posting on I WANT MEDIA. Eric Alterman, the media columnist for The Nation, said of Stewart: "Literally no one upheld the honor better of what remains of the media than did this 'fake news' comedian. He is our leader. How pathetic is that?"

Bonnie Fuller, the editorial director of American Media (and the 2003 Media Person of the Year) observed that Stewart has "done the virtually impossible -- skewer the political process and the politicians and yet make it intensely important and relevant."

Mark LaPointe, an assistant professor of media studies at Allegheny College, Meadville, Penn., wrote: "As a college professor, I can attest to the belief that [Jon Stewart] has energized young people to care about social and political issues and has fostered a growing belief in them that they matter and can impact change."

Following Stewart, the figures who earned the most votes in the poll were, in order:

  • Howard Stern, the shock jock who could help launch a new medium with his planned move to satellite radio in 2006;

  • Karl Rove, the Republican strategist and so-called "news manipulator" behind President Bush's re-election campaign;

  • Ana Marie Cox, the editor of the popular and influential political gossip blog Wonkette;

  • Janet Jackson, the performer who sparked the FCC indecency crackdown with her Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction."

The 30 candidates for 2004, in alphabetical order:

Roger Ailes · Tom Brokaw · George W. Bush · Graydon Carter · Ana Marie Cox · Desperate Housewives · Maureen Dowd · Matt Drudge · Michael Eisner · Clay Felker · Al Franken · Seymour Hersh · Paris Hilton · Janet Jackson · Steve Jobs · John Kerry · Larry King · Michael Moore · Rupert Murdoch · Daniel Okrent · Bill O'Reilly · Michael Powell · Power Line bloggers · Dan Rather · Frank Rich · Karl Rove · Joe Scarborough · Howard Stern · Jon Stewart · Martha Stewart

The 2003 Media Person of the Year was Bonnie Fuller, editorial director of American Media. The 2002 honor went to Martha Stewart, the media entrepreneur.


  • "Dan Rather. The blogs are enjoying the kind of celebrity they have now because of Dan and "60 Minutes." Dan had a very distinguished career and represented so many good things about what is viewed as mainstream media by the bloggers. He's also a cautionary tale for all of us in this business. Everything we do is scrutinized and analyzed carefully by many people who 20 years ago either didn't care, shrugged or wrote a letter to the editor."

    — Jim Kelly, managing editor, Time Magazine

  • "Jon Stewart. He helped those of us in the blue states untangle our hateful, conflicted emotions about the ugly American political landscape. He kept us sane by finding humor -- and great insight -- in political tragedy. In fact, he knows how much we all need him that he recently worked straight through an awful cold. He had such a sore throat, it was almost painful to listen to his scratchy voice and barely-suppressed cough. But he kept going night after night. I wanted to hug him."

    — Simon Dumenco, media critic

  • "Howard Stern. He speaks to an audience that few others are addressing -- the young and disenfranchised. He got millions of young voters to turn out for John Kerry. He definitely had the most influence in the media this year."

    — Joe Trippi, Howard Dean presidential campaign manager and MSNBC contributor

  • "Tom Brokaw and Steve Shepard. For at a time when it seems that every major personality is being 'pushed' -- from Colin Powell to Tyrone Willingham to Dan Rather -- Brokaw and Shepard are two who did their jobs brilliantly for 20-plus years, and were able to leave 'NBC Nightly News' and BusinessWeek 'his way.' "

    — Steve Cohn, editor in chief, Media Industry Newsletter

  • "Jon Stewart. His main target is the laziness and sensationalism of the news media. Could there be anything more worthy of ridicule than cable news election coverage?"

    — Jeff Bercovici, media reporter, Women's Wear Daily

  • "Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, a shared prize. This year's selection is a no-brainer. Honor them both for a salutary, 25-plus years of television journalism excellence."

    — Tom Woodall, Rockville, Md.

  • "Roger Ailes, because of the extraordinary performance of Fox News in 2004 in which they challenged the broadcast networks for audience for the first time."

    — Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report and chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News

  • "Rupert Murdoch, hands down. Think about it. His acquisition of DirecTV now enables him to seamlessly deliver his news and entertainment around the world. Who is a bigger global gatekeeper? And having DirecTV certainly spurred Comcast to make a big content play with its surprise bid for Walt Disney, an offer that, in turn, led to the historic no-confidence vote against Michael Eisner and ultimately his announcing his retirement. And with the ascendancy of the red states, who plays better to Middle America under four more years of Bush than Rupert’s agenda-packed Fox News?"

    — Tom Lowry, media editor, BusinessWeek

  • "Janet Jackson. Her Super Bowl 'wardrobe malfunction' empowered the FCC and made decency the hot button issue of the year in media, as well as an important part of the Republican moral values platform."

    — Lisa Granatstein, reporter, Mediaweek

  • "Jon Stewart, who is so brilliant it's scary."

    — Jason Calacanis, founder, Weblogs Inc.

  • "Karl Rove. Four more years of Bush -- you gotta hand it to the monster puppeteer."

    — Donny Deutsch, chairman and CEO, Deutsch Inc.

  • "Michael Powell, the FCC commissioner, for his prodigious efforts in banishing Howard Stern to satellite radio. First, we get to hear the very end of the 'king of all media' boasts, and second, it actually helps satellite radio, which I love."

    — John Gibson, host of Fox News Channel's "The Big Story"

  • "Janet Jackson. Her 'wardrobe malfunction' led to hysteria among those who believed a slightly exposed nipple at long range for a fraction of a second would bring down the empire. The imposition of fines by the FCC and the threat of more fines put the industry into panic mode. There is no question that Janet Jackson -- or, more precisely, a one-inch-square part of her body -- has had more influence than anything else in 2004."

    — Alan Colmes, co-host of Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes"

  • "Jon Stewart. At a moment where cant, disingenuousness, dissembling, intellectual dishonesty and ideological predictability are the default modes of the left and right, Jon Stewart's square-shooting candor is bracing and lovable. His appearance on 'Crossfire' was mind-bogglingly wonderful. And, of course, he is funny about complicated, serious subjects in complicated, pitch-perfect ways: The mass diffusion of what we now call snarkiness, not necessarily a good thing, has been single-handedly redeemed by his 'Daily Show.' "

    — Kurt Andersen, New York Magazine columnist and host of public radio's "Studio 360"

  • "Karl Rove. The media figure with the most impact in 2004 is not a journalist, or even a figure in the media. Most days, Karl Rove scorns the media. But President Bush's uber strategist made decisions that reverberate. While John Kerry's media advisors cautioned him to float above the fray, last spring Rove poured resources into attacking Kerry as a flip-flopper, freezing an impression that subverted Kerry's candidacy. Similarly, Rove enforced iron discipline on Bush's media message, refusing to admit mistakes and repeating, like a mantra, that this election was about fighting terrorism. A candidate who might have been perceived as ineffective was hailed as resolute. Now that we enter Bush II, Rove and the administration will make fateful media regulatory decisions. They will decide about Big Media, about keeping public documents secret, about prosecuting journalists who don't divulge confidential sources. And an administration that rejects the assumption that journalists serve the public interest will be more emboldened to assert that reporters are biased and arrogant, and therefore less deserving of attention.

    — Ken Auletta, media columnist, The New Yorker

  • "Jon Stewart. He's effectively used his position on 'The Daily Show' to elevate discourse through the use of humor and critique. As a college professor, I can attest to the belief that he has energized young people to care about social and political issues and has fostered a growing belief in them that they matter and can impact change."

    — Mark LaPointe, assistant professor of media studies, Allegheny College

  • "Paris Hilton. She knows how to play the media better than any person alive. If Kerry had the same ability, he would be president."

    — Mark Cuban, blogger, co-founder of HDNet and star of ABC's "The Benefactor"

  • "Tom Brokaw. For his well-done, swan-song work on "Campaign 2004" and especially on Election Night for both NBC and MSNBC."

    — Jim Forkan

  • "Howard Stern. He has the potential to establish satellite radio as a new, viable medium."

    — Andrew Gelman, VP of business affairs, Rodale

  • "Bill O'Reilly by a mile. He is a one-man franchise -- makes news, reports it, in a 'fair and balanced way.' And who knows, he might come through with some big dollars if he is named."

    — David Carr, media reporter, New York Times

  • "Bill O'Reilly. The Fox News star took a crippling hit from a scheming underling who set him up for an extortionate lawsuit by taping embarrassing phone conversations. But he survived the scandal with his dignity intact, and his ratings went even higher."

    — Richard Johnson, Page Six editor, New York Post

  • "Roger Ailes. His creation, the Fox News Channel, might or might not be fair and balanced, but suddenly it's giving the broadcast networks a run for their ratings. Also, Roger is the only communications executive I'm aware of who once hurled an advertiser off a loading dock into a snow bank."

    — Lloyd Grove, Lowdown columnist, New York Daily News

  • "Frank Rich. He penned a weekly must-read column in the New York Times that lacerated the media for its weak-kneed self-absorbtion, cynical entertainment fetish and ever-rightward tilt, while drawing precision connections between the war, politics and pop culture. Bravo."

    — Joe Hagan, columnist, New York Observer

  • "Jon Stewart. He's intelligent, he's independent, and he's and example of what has sorely been lacking in the media. He's a genius."

    — Jennifer M. Nelson, associate VP, Rubenstein Communications

  • "Maureen Dowd and Seymour Hersh. Over and over in 2004, Dowd, a witty and tough columnist for the New York Times, and Hersh, a relentless and tough investigative reporter for The New Yorker, wrote stories which made President Bush look bad. I applaud their talents -- and their courage to go against the flow. Too bad more of their colleagues didn't join them on the point."

    — Jon Friedman, media editor, CBSMarketWatch

  • "Jon Stewart. He is genuinely 'the most trusted name in news.' Oscar Wilde said something like: "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise, they'll kill you.' Stewart does a great job of that, deftly pointing out outright lies and scams from politicians that mainstream media won't touch. No one else approaches his integrity."

    — Craig Newmark, founder, Craigslist

  • "Steve Jobs. With iPod, he nailed digital music and pushed the radio business a step closer to the edge. With Pixar, he's transformed Hollywood story-telling, broken the rules (again) and all the records along with them."

    — Scott Donaton, editor, Advertising Age

  • "Karl Rove. The Republican Party has been really effective in getting the exact message that it wants out to the American people. If you look at a lot of the indicators, you would assume that things would be tough for the president. But Bush's approval ratings have stayed pretty positive. He obviously won reelection. And I think that Karl Rove gets a lot of credit for that."

    — Seth Mnookin, author, "Hard News"

  • "Howard Stern. He has done more for free speech than anyone else in the industry, and he ASKS questions instead of just buying everything the politicians say. What happened to the days when reporters asked questions? Now they just wave the flag."

    — Steven Jacobs

  • "Joe Scarborough. Joe is kind of unique, a self-deprecating ex-Congressman, Joe is insightful as well as thought-provoking and a very fair news talk host on MSNBC."

    — Scott Orlins

  • "Larry King. He is such a force on CNN that it is hard not to tune in just to see who he has on."

    — Beverly Riley

  • "Jon Stewart. For his attempts at raising the bar on debate and making intelligent discourse fun."

    — Ramzi Zakharia, media and acquisition manager, Digital Impact

  • "Clay Felker. Yes, this is a shamelessly self-promotional plug for the 'new' New York Magazine, but it also a heartfelt nod to the man who made the magazine I love, that I edit, and of which I'm especially proud. Clay Felker created New York Magazine in 1968. From the day I started here through the nine months we've spent preparing to re-introduce New York Magazine, I've looked constantly to Clay's vault of devices and designs in order to offer up a magazine that is again both timeless and timely, useful and elegant, smart and able to give pleasure in equal measure. Clay's are impossible shoes to fill, and I could never re-create his magazine; but his legacy will be in evidence on every page of New York Magazine going forward."

    — Adam Moss, editor in chief, New York Magazine

  • "Karl Rove. He won the election for Bush by manipulating the media better than anyone ever has, at least in the political realm."

    — John P. McCarthy, editor, Cineman Syndicate

  • "Bush and Kerry. Because they waged tough campaigns that ignited a million talk shows, fueled the blogs, tapped the limitless power of the Internet (to organize and raise bucks), helped inspire an unprecedented logjam of political best-sellers, and on and on."

    — Paul Colford, media columnist, New York Daily News

  • "Daniel Okrent. Not only has he brought credibility back to the New York Times as its public editor, he has addressed issues of importance to the online community, namely blogs. He pushed for a corrections policy for the Times op-ed page and has excoriated the Times for relying on anonymous sources. While popular outside the Times, inside he is a pariah, yet he has managed to maintain grace under fire. He continues to push for higher standards of ethical reporting and editing, even when some of his colleagues resent him for it. He's a brave man and deserves more credit than he gets."

    — Adam Penenberg, media columnist, Wired News

  • "Jon Stewart. Although agreeing with Bonnie Fuller is bad for my self-respect as well as my reputation. (I toyed with picking Stephen Colbert or Rob Corddry, but would that be fair to Samantha Bee?) The "Crossfire" appearance makes it impossible however. Literally no one upheld the honor better of what remains of the media than did this 'fake news' comedian, both on his own, invaluable program and in his citizen's intervention in which he figuratively smacked the smirk of Tucker Carlson's face? As I've said before, he is our leader. How pathetic is that?"

    — Eric Alterman, media columnist for The Nation and MSNBC.com blogger

  • "Jon Stewart. His show is the new must-see TV. He's done the virtually impossible -- skewer the political process and the politicians and yet make it intensely important and relevant."

    — Bonnie Fuller, American Media editorial director and 2003's Media Person of the Year



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