Comedian Jon Stewart apparently ran amok this week as the $100,000–paid host of a roundtable at the recent Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) conference. Instead of tackling the evening’s official theme (“Laughing Matters: Magazines Celebrate Humor”), he decided instead to take on the advertising irrelevance of magazines, the, ahem, sexual orientation of Men’s Health, and so on.
As AdAge points out, it was a ballsy move by MPA to hire Stewart, but he hasn’t exactly demonstrated an ability to play nice at such things:
An Advertising Week event designed to promote magazine publishing ran off the rails last night, when chosen moderator — and magazine cover-boy favorite — Jon Stewart ended up roundly mocking the editors on his panel and telling the assembled burghers of print that the medium now sits at “the children’s table.”
From the start it seemed ominous. When Mr. Stewart turned to Rodale’s star editor, Dave Zinczenko of Men’s Health, his first question was, “Why is your magazine so gay?”
Most marketing events, from press conferences to presidential “town halls,” are tightly controlled to prevent anything interesting from breaking out. So the Magazine Publishers of America deserves credit for taking an expensive risk (rumored price: $100,000) on hiring the big-draw Mr. Stewart and hoping for the best.
How long until this sort of thing begins to bite back at Stewart? You only get to be the sniper-in-chief for so long, and then you end up in an awful lot of people’s rhetorical cross-hairs.