Jon Stewart Hits Back at Paul Krugman on Coin

ca. 1928 --- Herbert Hoover Campaigning in New York.
ca. 1928 --- Herbert Hoover Campaigning in New 1928 --- Herbert Hoover Campaigning in New York --- Image by © CORBISPhoto: null/© Corbis. All Rights Reserved.

Last week, Jon Stewart mocked the platinum coin concept as a silly way to pay off the national debt, which was a dumb joke because it was never thought of as a way to pay off the national debt at all, but as a financial mechanism to avoid the damage of default if Republicans don’t lift the debt ceiling. Paul Krugman, in particular, went off on Stewart. Last night, Stewart defended himself:

He’s totally missing the point here. The platinum coin is obviously a ridiculous-sounding idea that is natural fodder for The Daily Show. There are lots of ways to do it. You could try to educate the audience about why people are advocating this ridiculous-sounding idea. Or you could do bits about how the coin is a terrible idea.

But the issue is the premise. Pretending that the plan is to mint a coin and pay off the national debt is just flat out false. The premise is the true part of the story, before the punch line. And when the premise is wrong, you’re just cheating. That’s what Jon Stewart did. It’s easy to make jokes if you can pretend the butt of the joke said something ridiculous even if he didn’t. You could make fun of Gretchen Carlson every single day if you’re willing to doctor her quotes to make them sound more absurd than they are.