Should N.J.’s Jon Stewart moderate a presidential debate?
Well, one thing's certain. If Jon Stewart moderates a presidential debate, there's very little chance Donald Trump will imply he was menstruating.
Scratch that. Maybe he will. The Donald is nothing if not unpredictable.
It may be a pie-in-the-sky idea, but it's one Mariel Waters of Clifton has been throwing her energy behind for the last few weeks days. A bit of necessary disclosure: Waters is friendly with your post-writer, Lou Hochman. He became aware of her effort when she posted about it on his Facebook wall.
Waters has started a Change.com petition trying to get the just-barely-ex-Daily Show host and Lawrenceville native to take on the task, directing her plea to several media companies and the Commission on Presidential Debates. It's collected more than 1,500 signatures so far (an associated Facebook group is lagging behind a bit, with just 63 members).
New Jersey 101.5 asked Waters to explain the initiative. The interview below, conducted electronically, has been edited for length and the occasional typo.
NJ 101.5: How did you decide to get this thing started?
Waters: I can't take credit for the idea. Back in 2012 there were two Change.org petitions calling on Stewart to moderate a presidential debate. I had stumbled upon these back in 2012 and made a Facebook page promoting one of them in an effort to support the cause. With Jon retiring from the Daily Show and a presidential election a little over a year away, I though this would be a great opportunity to get the ball rolling again on this great idea.
NJ 101.5: How well did those earlier ones do?
Waters: One had 317 signatures and the other 1,285. In two weeks this new one has surpassed 1,500. Timing is everything, it seems!
NJ 101.5: What are you doing to get the word out (besides hitting up my FB page)?
Waters: Well, there's a "We want Jon Stewart to moderate a 2016 presidential debate" FB page and I'm trying to incorporate #WeWantJon into the messaging so that it can get some traction on Twitter. I've also tweeted about it. And I've been pestering my friends a lot. :)
NJ 101.5: So how big do you think this might get? B/C 1,500 is nice, but not enough to grab the New York Times' or debate commission's attention. Optimistic it'll go viral?
Waters: I have to be! When I read the comments on the petition and see that people from around the country are excited about this idea, it gives me hope. I believe in Mr. Stewart's ability to deliver an quality debate and that is the strength of this petition and it's potential to go viral.
NJ 101.5: And if it does, how do you hope to get it in front of the commission + JS?
Waters: The Change.org petition is addressed to the Commission on Presidential Debates and asks them to approach Stewart. I understand that Mr. Stewart just retired and probably his only wish in this world is to spend time with his family on his animal sanctuary farm, but I hope that he sees this petition as an extension of our democracy, and that there is a serious demographic of people who still need his voice in our political process.
So what do you think? Would Jon Stewart make a good debate moderator? Take our poll below: