'Daily Show' comedy turns into Iran spy drama

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'Daily Show' comedy turns into Iran spy drama

Mon Nov 23, 2009 @ 11:42AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Did Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" help cause a Newsweek reporter to be detained by Iranian police for 118 days?

On June 21, Newsweek's Maziar Bahari was taken from his bed and accused of being a spy. In October, Bahari was released. In this week's issue of the magazine, he writes about his ordeal, including an interesting exchange between him and his interrogator ("Mr. Rosewater") during his detention. Bahari writes:

"Well," said Mr. Rosewater, who had been fairly quiet up to this point, "we have interesting video footage of you. That may persuade you to be more cooperative." I could not imagine what that might be. Something personal? Something that might compromise my friends? But…I reminded myself I had done nothing wrong.

I saw the flicker of a laptop monitor under my blindfold. Then I heard someone speaking. It was a recording of another prisoner's confession. "It's not that one," said the second interrogator. "It's the one marked 'Spy in coffee shop.' " Mr. Rosewater fumbled with the computer. The other man stepped in to change the DVD. And then I heard the voice of Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show."

Iran's official wanted to know why Bahari was giving an interview with a "Daily Show" correspondent "dressed like a spy" and why Bahari told the interviewer that Iran and America had a lot in common.

Watch the clip below to see what irked the Iranians; obviously humor doesn't translate very well. Should "The Daily Show" have shown more sensitivity to the hot situation in Iran?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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