Comedy Central's "Daily Show" visited the Times headquarters for a five-minute segment that aired Wednesday night, "End Times," featuring some ironic mockery of the staid old paper and print news in general. The five-minute segment featured interviews with Executive Editor Bill Keller, smiling tightly but trying to be a good sport, and normally affable Managing Editor Rick Berke, looking surprisingly defensive and clueless and not in on the joke when Daily Show's Jason Jones challenged him facetiously on why anyone would want to read "aged news" (the print edition) as opposed to "real news" (stuff that happened today, not "24 hours after it happened").
Jones provided some counterpoint to the on-screen mockery in an interview with the Times' David Itzkoff posted on the paper's Arts Beat blog. Amid the self-deprecation, Jones praised Keller's brains and called the paper invaluable and a must-read among the "Daily Show" staff.
Itzkoff: What were your impressions of him?
Jones: Talking to Bill, I realized how dumb I was. He's a very well-spoken, cogent man. With no time for my juvenile fraternity humor.
Itzkoff: You understand, he covered the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of apartheid in South Africa?
Jones: Yes, but I can make [flatulence] noises.
Itzkoff: Given that "The Daily Show" is dependent on other news media to provide you with your fodder, is it counterproductive to help bring down an organization that supplies your content?
Jones: I think the point of the piece is, really, if I could be serious for one moment, that without institutions like yours, the news would not exist. I think everyone has a genuine love of your institution here, because it's the first paper that almost everybody reads here in the morning. You guys aren't doing a bad enough job for us to make fun of on a constant basis. Every once in a while you slip up, and then you're lambs to the slaughter. But you should really be more [terrible]. You're doing too good of a job.